Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Publishing Career, Part I

I was having lunch with a couple of new hires the other day and they were talking about what they'd done before they came here.  Inevitably, the question came right along back to me.

"What about you?  What did you do before?"

If only that were a question I could answer concisely!  My journey in the publishing biz has been a little backwards, if you want to know the truth.  You see, there are two kinds of people in publishing: Those who struggled to get in and those who were lucky to fall into it.  I straddle both categories.  Impossible, you say?  Allow me to explain.

I graduated from college in 2005 with no clear idea of what I wanted to do.  I'd thought about it for the longest, honest!  I'd gone through the doctor stage, the lawyer stage, the businesswoman stage, the broadcast journalist stage and, eventually, the psychologist stage before coming up with...bupkis.

Go, Big Red!

It was over lunch with an alum who'd graduated some years back that the idea of book publishing came up.  I loved to read, she said, so that might be a place to start.  My friend then connected me to a human resources person she'd met.  The HR lady got in touch with me and I submitted my resume for an editorial opening (the most sought after) which didn't pan out.  The HR lady then asked if I might be interested in a job in reprints, and though I had no idea what that was, I said I was.  I went in for an interview and was thrilled to get the offer as soon as I reached my doorstep.

Yay, me!  I'd landed my first job.  I was on my way.

I hated my job.

I loved Penguin, don't get me wrong.  My boss was great, the company was great.  But we were understaffed in my department and due to an insane amount of work, were barely making sensitive deadlines on even twelve hour days.  If it weren't for the insane pace, I'd have stuck around.  Between that and the fact that it was my first job had me wondering if maybe I was supposed to be doing something else with my life.

My supervisor, who'd been there since she'd graduated from college, mused aloud every now and again how she'd always been interested in law school herself.  If she didn't have a family, she'd say, she'd have gone to law school or travelled.  Done something else entirely.

I was shelving books one day when Susan Estrich's How to Get into Law School fell on my head.  A sign, I thought.  I read the book from cover to cover and nine months into my first job, handed in my resignation.

I hadn't applied or anything, but those were minor details.  I was going to law school!

That's when things began to get complicated.

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