How did you get interested in publishing?
Writing was the first great love of my life and I’ve always been a voracious reader, so everything fell into place when I came to OWU and took English and Journalism classes. I aimed toward publishing because I really wanted to be a literary agent; it excited me to think about being a champion for books! As I’ve moved through my career, though, I’ve widened my circle of what is considered storytelling and how content is produced. I’ve now been involved with newspapers, magazines, and research journals. There are a lot more job opportunities out there if you’re willing to be open to what comes your way.
What was your first publishing job and how did you get it?
For my first job out of college, I worked as a copy editor and page designer for a newspaper hub in Michigan. As for getting the job, I was diligent in checking job boards and applied to anything I thought would be interesting anywhere I was remotely interested in moving. For me, it took a ton of patience and persistence to land my first job in a field that was related to my degree. I also had some knowledge of InDesign from my Journalism courses, and page layout isn’t a frequently taught skill in the journalism world anymore, so that was a benefit. (Having a touch of design experience has been something that has benefited me well in almost all of my editing jobs.) When I worked there, we put out six newspapers each day. That meant collaborating with the editors to place local stories written by our own reporters and to pick state/national/international stories off the Associated Press wire. It was a great way to hone my copyediting skills and to also pay attention to editors who had been there much longer to see how they approached and thought about things. One of the most important lessons I learned was to always have a reason as to why you’ve made a change or suggestion as an editor.
What do you do for your current job and how did you get it?
I currently work for the Cleveland Clinic and manage, edit, and submit all research publications produced by the orthopedics team. The majority of my job is centered around scientific journals but I also have done some work on book chapters and grants while here. It’s very different from what I’m used to, because I’ve always been on a writing/editing/production team and I’m now I’m the sole editor in a sea of science and research folks. At the time I was applying for jobs this round, I was moving back to Cleveland, so again I was applying for anything that seemed remotely interesting and relevant to my skill sets. This position was interesting to me, actually, because I had a lot of friends from OWU who wound up doing scientific research and we often discuss how there’s a divide between the communications world and the science world and how damaging that could be. I was pretty excited at the chance to get to bridge some of that gap by improving the writing skills of orthopedic scientists. I think my enthusiasm and the fact that I had some knowledge of how research was conducted because of Psychology classes I had taken at OWU helped me in being their final choice.
What’s your favorite part about your job or the industry in general?
For me, one of my favorite parts of the industry is just how much you learn all the time. Before I came to the Cleveland Clinic, I worked at the University of St. Thomas as a writer and editor for their magazines. I met people all over campus in all fields who were doing the most incredible, cutting-edge work. I couldn’t always understand some of it (hello, advanced robotics), but that enthusiasm you pick up from another person talking about their passion project is utterly contagious. As a writer or editor, it’s thrilling to be the person who gets to share that story and help craft it into the best it could possibly be. I love being an advocate for the voices behind the story by making the text as good as it can be. This might not be specific to publishing, but I also love working on a team where I can constantly bounce ideas off of others and get feedback from people who have had different experiences than mine.
Would you recommend going to grad school for someone who wants to go into publishing?
One of the best pieces of advice I got from an OWU professor was to not go to graduate school unless you knew exactly why you were going and how it was going to benefit your career in your selected field. I think that’s particularly true for humanities majors in this time and age because of how oversaturated the job market is with over-educated folks and because of how expensive graduate school and beyond is right now. I absolutely do not want to discourage anyone from continuing their education, but I think, particularly for editing, there’s a huge amount of benefit to practical experience. Degrees are an important stamp of education in our current world but they’re not the only way to learn.
I attended the Denver Publishing Institute because I was dead set on going into traditional publishing when I graduated from OWU. DPI is a about a month-long intensive look into different facets of publishing. It’s really good for (1) getting a realistic view of what all publishing entails; (2) getting some hands-on experience; and (3) networking! The program affirmed that I had picked up some great writing skills from OWU, and I had a good support network from that program while I was working in Minnesota.
Are there particular classes or experiences from your time at OWU that have proven especially helpful in your work or that you would recommend to others?
It’s hard for me to pick just one. Being that we’re a small, close community, I really value the relationships I developed with my professors. They were (and still are) great people to use as resources — they’ve given me advice through my career and have always been happy to step up to bat when I need an advocate. In the community vein, I think the friendships I developed with my classmates have been equally important. My best friends are still the people I met at OWU and it’s great to learn through their experiences because we wound up all over the country doing different things. (And while I was job-searching once, I couch surfed between three different OWU friends’ apartments.) I’m also really grateful I went to a liberal arts college.
Being well-rounded and having a little bit of knowledge about everything has also been a huge help to me personally. My English major in particular made me a strong critical thinker so I’m good at problem-solving in my jobs. I suppose I would recommend keeping in mind that just forming friendships at OWU creates a network of sorts that will support you into the future; for writers and editors, any activity or club that gets you practical experience is always going to be priceless (I loved writing and editing for the Transcript); and use your experience at a liberal arts college to cultivate and grow a curiosity about the world.
What advice would you give someone who is looking for a job in publishing?
If you’re looking at going into traditional book publishing, physical location will be more important than you might think. It’s going to be much easier to get internships if you’re in a city that has a high concentration of presses. It’s such a highly competitive field that it can be difficult to get hired from a distance. Networking is crucially important. Be open to whatever opportunities come your way in your field. The topic you’re working on might not always interest you, but you’ll always have something to learn about process.