A Career in Publishing: Is Grad School the Right Option?

Students from across the country, some seniors in college, others recent grads, are wondering if they can turn their love of books into a career with an undergraduate degree or is graduate school necessary to move forward?

While virtually all entry-level positions in the publishing industry do not require an advanced degree, it is nearly impossible for students with only an undergraduate degree to get publishing jobs. Last year, I sat on a Publisher’s Weekly panel at Random House on the job market. There were a number of undergrad students in the audience who asked the same question. These were not English majors who were nearing graduation and hadn’t thought about jobs; many of them had several publishing internships on their resumes.

So what do I tell students? I tell them that a graduate degree will be beneficial in two ways: it opens doors (practical knowledge learned & networking) and, from my experience, students get promoted sooner.

If you’re still reading, you are likely wondering about choosing a school. The simple response – there aren’t but a handful, so you won’t have to whittle down a list of 50. So how to choose the right school for you? Grad school isn’t quite like undergrad. I think there are different criteria that come into play when choosing the right program. Let’s start with the word “program” – the program is more important than the school, .so focus on the program and what it offers versus what the college or university as a whole offers. While the general focus of each program is similar, there are differences. There are some clear and rather obvious criteria perspective students should explore: location, size, availability to internships, professors, course offerings, cost, etc., but I think the not-so-obvious criteria are equally as important.

I tell perspective students that grad school is a gift to themselves and it is the opportunity to forge life-long friendships and connections that will one day be beneficial in their career. These types of relationships are forged out of the community built around the program. Thus, it is important to ask about the community: is it an active community, who is involved, is it welcoming, how do people know about it, get involved, etc. Students excel when they are part of a greater community.

Community is just one of the not-so-common criteria. There are a host of others such as where do the other graduate students come from, are there related graduate programs on campus, how involved is the program in the greater community, what type of support is available to graduate students (this could include the counseling center, academic support, etc.), how accessible is the director, are there opportunities to mentor undergraduates, are their volunteer opportunities, and how active is the program in regional and national conferences.

I wish any of you who choose to pursue grad school the very best as you embark upon your journey. I challenge you to think about the standard questions, but also think about how the program will shape you as an editor, designer, content developer, marketer, etc. Who will help you achieve your goals – certainly your professors, but what about your peers? Think about the not-so-common questions as you progress in your search and no doubt – you will make the right decision for you!

Good luck!

Anne Converse Willkomm MFA ’10
Director of the Graduate Publishing Programs
Rosemont College

Student Post: Embracing the Golden Age of Publishing

by Rosalba Ugliuzza 

We are currently in the “Golden Age” of publishing. With the inventions and popular sales of tablets, apps, and mobile devices, this “Golden Age” is more than just holding the power of a red pen in your hand. It’s more than just the text in a book or magazine.

I grasped this knowledge after attending the “Trends in Digital Publishing” panel discussion on Monday, March 24. Moderated by director Anne Converse Willkomm, the featured panelists were some of the most extraordinary intellectuals in today’s publishing industry: digital content producer and Rosemont graduate faculty Thomas Hartmann, digital publishing consultant Scott Chappell, writer and Wild River Review social media director Don Lafferty, and Publisher’s Weekly senior news editor Calvin Reid.

I enjoyed the panel discussion so much that halfway through the seminar, I stopped taking notes so that I could absorb the words of wisdom. Their background and experiences are different yet extraordinary. They provided very insightful, informative, and thought-provoking opinions about the digital content and the future of the entire publishing industry. They took turns defining content and who owns it. On a social media outlet, you are a partial owner of what you write. Content is all around us. It’s a delivery vehicle. A book can be a combination of many things, not just a solid object.

The panelists were profoundly optimistic that change in the publishing industry is a good thing. Traditional publishers are joining the bandwagon of applying the digital aspect to their business model. Not only will digital publishing help the consumer masses grasp up-to-the-minute information with one easy touch, it will also encourage the well-rounded producers – such as authors – to come up with more than one way to publish their latest work. For example, if an author opts not to use or gets rejected by a traditional publisher, he or she can still publish work through Amazon, social media outlets, or blogs.

With the latest changes and upgrades, we must not be preoccupied or scared. Curiosity is the key to educating ourselves in order to stay on top of the publishing game.

Director’s Post: eBooks on the Move

by Anne Converse Willkomm

While on Twitter today I came across an article on Digital Book World on the top selling ebooks of 2013.  As I scanned the list, it brought me back to one of my first Push-to-Publish conferences about 5 years ago. Self-published authors were scarcely considered human. They kept to themselves, and the traditionallypublished authors made little effort to engage. The boundary between these two camps was not nearly as defined a year later, and even less loosely defined the following year. In 2012 and again last fall, no real line existed in the sand.

According to Digital Book World’s article, numbers 7, 10, and 17 in the top 20 of the 2013 bestselling ebook list were self-published. That’s 15% of the list – pretty impressive, given there were no self-published titles on the 2012 list. According to an article written by Jeremy Greenfield on Digital Book World, self-published books took the No. 1 spot on the Amazon ebook list four times in the first quarter of 2013. As the first quarter of 2014 winds down, it will be interesting to see if this pattern holds true. It appears that it will, as Amazon reports an increase in self-published ebook titles. However, it is important to note that from self-published titles in Amazon’s eBook genre best-sellers list, the self-published titles represent only 3% of the total daily revenue.

What does this mean?

Self-published authors are forces to be reckoned with, and the E.L. James and Hugh Howeys of the world are not merely statistical exceptions. It might indicate that self-published authors are putting in the time and effort they were once accused of bypassing, i.e. to write and create the best book possible versus writing and uploading with little to no editing. It also means that self-published authors are becoming savvy. They are learning how to market themselves and their books. Self-published authors are taking advantage of price shifting and manipulation to get their books into the hands of readers and reviewers. During 48-hour ebook giveaways, self-published authors can get their books onto readers’ phones, tablets, and ereaders. Some of those readers will write reviews, which will further promote the book. Traditional publishers do not practice this. They release a book and maintain a consistently higher price than most self-published authors. But are the traditional publishers making lots of money on ebook sales? Not yet.

 

Event: Panel Discussion on Digital Publishing

trendsdigipost

Trends in Digital Publishing, a panel discussion with Thomas Hartman, Scott Chappell, Don Lafferty, and Calvin Reid, will be help in Rosemont College’s Lawrence Auditorium at 6:00pm on Monday, March 24. The event is free and open to the public! To register your RSVP, please click here. For any questions or concerns, contact Anne Willkomm at awillkomm@rosemont.edu.

Event: Talk with David Chemidlin

blog conde nast

Condé Nast is home to some of the world’s most celebrated media brands. In the United States, Condé Nast publishes 18 consumer magazines, four business-to-business publications, 27 websites, and more than 50 apps for mobile and tablet devices, all of which define excellence in their categories.

David Chemidlin is Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller of Condé Nast and General Manager of the company’s shared services center in Wilmington, Delaware.

Chemidlin is coming to campus to talk about the business side of magazine publishing. The event will be in Main Building, Tuesday, November 12 and it begins at 6:00. For those in class on Tuesday evening, please begin your class in Main and then return to your classroom after the discussion. The event is open to the public!