Who’s Down With OUP?

Pace University’s MS in Publishing alumni and students are taking over Oxford University Press. Hear from four who range from editorial assistant and intern to ebook manager.

Oxford University Press (OUP) has an incredibly diverse publishing program and is the largest University Press in the world. Several Pace MS in Publishing alumnae and students are currently working and interning at OUP and they all talked about their experiences in publishing, their academic studies at Pace, and their work at OUP with MS in Publishing’s Professor Denning. Here are some snippets from the interviews:

Margaret Harrison ’12
Ebook Global Supply Chain Manager

Professor Denning: It is very exciting to have such a strong contingent of Pace graduates at OUP and we are especially proud of your accomplishments. Could you tell us a bit about what is you do at Oxford University Press?

Margaret: I was hired in June 2011 to found the Ebook Global Supply Chain office, and we are now a transatlantic team of three overseeing ebook operations for the global academic business, including conversion, distribution and process. (Rachel Menth, another alumna of the MS in Publishing Program, actually works on my team!) Currently I do a fair bit of project management and lead business process improvement for ebook work. Every day I have at least three to five problems that require solving. And I work with colleagues across numerous departments, US and UK. I love visiting our Oxford office and collaborating with my UK colleagues. Since I started at OUP, we have launched the UK’s ebook business, converted more than 4,000 US and UK EPUBs, distributed more than 10,000 ebooks, launched international partnerships with Kobo, Google, and others, documented for the first time global ebook processes for the press, and led an ebook data reconciliation project to clean up more than 30,000 ebook records in our systems. I have an amazing team that’s worked very hard to achieve these milestones.

Professor Denning: What advice would you give to a Pace student hoping to begin a career in publishing? What advice would you offer someone who is interested in working at Oxford?

Margaret: Networking has literally led to every job I’ve ever had, from the time I was 16. It is so important to “build it before you need it” as the saying goes. Spend some time on your LinkedIn profile and think about how to optimize your profile for your audience so you stand out. Include a link to a copy of your Pace thesis. Ask your professors to post a recommendation. Then network with everyone you can think of: your dentist, your grandma’s neighbor, the local barkeep. You just never know when you might make that meaningful connection.

Professor Denning:  Are you involved in the MS in Publishing program in any way today?

Margaret:  Yes! Earlier this year I gave several guest lectures in the Pace University China-U.S. Publishing Program. This was a great opportunity to share recent successes in our ebook program at OUP as part of a continuing education initiative. One day I hope to teach in the MS in Publishing Program, teaching students about digital workflows (and especially encouraging young women to pursue technology tracks in publishing).

Melanie Mitzman ’12 
Assistant Marketing Manager for Economics, Finance, and Business

Professor Denning:  How would you describe the work environment at Oxford?

Melanie: It’s a truly global working experience. Everyone is very friendly and helpful, especially when it comes to finding the right person to reach out to in each unique situation. It’s a nice combination of individual and teamwork, and working in such an expansive company has been a great way to improve my skills at working with lots of different people.

Professor Denning:  What advice would you give to a Pace student hoping to begin a career in book or magazine publishing? What advice would you offer someone who is interested in working at Oxford?

Melanie: You have to truly love publishing in order to commit yourself to it, due to the difficult work and often low pay. Being at the right company and/or finding a mentor (or two) at a job can vastly improve that experience and make a huge difference in how you view your work. And always pay it forward. After a few years in the business, it can be easy to forget what it was like when you first started, but it’s always good to remember those roots by helping the newest members of the publishing world.

Professor Denning:  Anything else or any advice you would like to give to current students and alumni?

Melanie: I would really recommend meeting, making friends with, and working with as many people as possible in your classes. These are the people you will continue to run into throughout your career, either in the office or social networking events, and you will almost certainly grow together and possibly look to each other for references or job opportunities. These are your friends, but they are also great assets for your career development.

Brianna Marron ’11 
Editorial Assistant

Professor Denning:  Please describe a bit about what your job entails.

Brianna:  My job requires me to have four arms, and an increased tolerance for caffeine, but I wouldn’t trade it. My day-to-day tasks include constant contact with authors to ensure they are writing their manuscripts, and to help shepherd the entire process for them.  Some of the basic tasks I perform include identifying and evaluating print and online publishing and distribution opportunities, analyzing competition, conducting market research, and basically being the liaison between the author and all departments: production, marketing, publicity, sales, design, and so forth. Some of the more creative and fun tasks I get to do are creating concepts for covers and researching images, writing cover copy, and writing book descriptions that feed onto our website and other booksellers’ websites, like Amazon.

Professor Denning:  How do you feel that the MS in Publishing program prepared you for a career in the publishing industry?

Brianna:  From the get-go, the instructors were all helpful and really wanted to know why I was in their class, and they really listened and helped me strengthen the skills I already had, and combine them with the skills I needed to work in the type of publishing environment I wanted; they really tried to cater their classes to the reasons each student had for being there.  And the program is also designed for those students who don’t really know what area in publishing they want to pursue, as you will learn about all the various aspects of publishing.  Again, I wouldn’t trade my job, but the publishing industry is changing so rapidly, that some days, I really just want to go back to Pace to learn it all again, because the moment you think you understand publishing is the moment the industry transmutes to the changing century.

Professor Denning:  Anything else or any advice you would like to give to current students and alumni?

Brianna: Stay informed. Read the news, read everything, attend different types of lectures, take advantage of being in NYC where culture thrives all around; this is where ideas for books generate.  To grow in a publishing career, it is not enough to come to work, type in data, read manuscripts, and go through the general motions.  You need to have a genuine interest in your surroundings—the people around you, the community around you, the problems, the luxuries—take time to notice the undetected world around you; this is where books are born, and this is the foundation of your career.

Maria Garguilo ’13 
Editorial Intern

Professor Denning:  How do you feel that the MS in Publishing program has been working to prepare you for a career in the publishing industry?

Maria:  Pace has helped to prepare me for a career in the publishing industry by making the industry tangible in many ways, including having professors who have first-hand publishing experience. In many of the classes I’ve taken, the industry stories that professors sometimes share with us are just as interesting and useful as the course material they’re teaching. Another way Pace makes the industry tangible is by making internship opportunities readily available and really encouraging students to take those opportunities. Lastly, Pace offers students the opportunity to take part in industry meetings, conferences, etc. My first month at Pace, I attended the Book Industry Study Group Annual Meeting. I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, but just being there, and being surrounded by industry professionals was inspiring. And I know that many students took advantage of going to BEA this summer (I was traveling and couldn’t attend). These are events that I would not have access to without Pace, and I feel grateful that I’m a part of a program where the faculty cares about giving students all the tools they need to succeed in the future.

Professor Denning: What was the topic of your Graduate Thesis paper and can you tell us about what you think the value of writing it is for students?

Maria: The topic of my Graduate Thesis paper was how the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon came to be. It wasn’t an analysis of the books’ content, but the process of how an unknown author who wrote fan fiction ended up becoming Publishers Weekly Person of the Year in 2012. I wrote a thesis as an undergraduate at University at Albany, too, and I think in both cases the value of writing a thesis is feeling like you are a bit of an expert on a certain topic. Although the research and writing can feel overwhelming at times, when it is complete, it is a great source of pride, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Maybe more importantly, your thesis is a great writing sample that you can show to future employers to show that you can not only write, but also conduct research and organize it in a coherent way.

Read the full interviews on the MS in Publishing blog.

Pace in Publishing: The Write Stuff

Pace alumna and Associate Director of Publicity at Rizzoli New York Jessica Napp is working with huge names: from the interior designer for the Obama White House to Tommy Hilfiger to Rihanna. Find out how she went from a publishing student to a publicity professional.

MS in Publishing Professor and Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach Jane Kinney-Denning chatted with Publishing alumna Jessica Napp ’00 in their latest alumni spotlight.

Pace MS in Publishing—Alumni in the Spotlight

Jessica Napp, a 2000 graduate of the MS in Publishing program, is currently Associate Director of Publicity at Rizzoli New York (www.rizzoliusa.com), an integral part of its parent company, the Italian communications giant RCS Media Group.

Rizzoli New York is a leader in the fields of art and architecture, interior design, photography, haute couture, gastronomy, performing arts, and gay and alternative lifestyles. In this interview, Napp will share some of her thoughts on the book publishing industry today and on the role of the publicist in an industry that is constantly impacted and adapting to new technological innovations.

Professor Jane Kinney-Denning: Hi Jessica and thank you for agreeing to do this interview. It has been 12 years since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program. Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?

Jessica Napp: Hi Jane, thank you for asking me! I can hardly believe it has been 12 years, but during that time I have had the opportunity to work for a variety of publishers and PR firms, and I can honestly say that my career is pretty well-rounded. I have had the opportunity to work for 2 of the large trade houses (Little, Brown and Simon & Schuster), I have done stints at PR agencies specializing in book publicity (Planned TV Arts (PTA), now called Media-Connect, and McAllRow Communications), but have found my home in the illustrated world having worked for Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Welcome Books, Harry N. Abrams, and for the past 5 years, Rizzoli New York.

Every job in this industry has taught me another piece of the publishing and publicity puzzle. The successes I have had would not have been possible, in my mind, without this rich and diverse background and I am grateful for every opportunity that has come my way over the years.

Prof. Denning: What does your job as an Associate Director of Publicity entail? How has the job changed since you first began working at Rizzoli?

JN: My job is multi-faceted and certainly extends beyond the realm of publicity. The biggest change from when I started is the volume of work. As we grow and become more successful, as we continue to publish the books of cultural heavy-weights, there is always more to do. As Associate Director, my primary job is to assist the Executive Director of Publicity in all aspects of running the department.

I work on many of the company’s high profiles books and authors, handling roughly 20 books a season. I have had the honor of working with Michael S. Smith (interior designer for the Obama White House); designers Martyn Lawrence-Bullard and Mary McDonald of Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators; New York Times food columnist Florence Fabricant and the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger; Rihanna; Paula Deen’s former food stylist and culinary editor, Libbie Summers; legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman; and artist Will Cotton, the creative vision behind Katy Perry’s California Gurls video. This upcoming fall I will be working with actress Diane Keaton and music sensation M.I.A. My list could go on and on.

But what I do on a daily basis varies. I design press campaigns, craft press materials, research press contacts, organize author events and tours, and pitch a wide variety of features, stories, and interviews. My publicity team and I also supply our Social Media Manager with a great deal of content for all social media platforms including Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Rizzoli website and blog. I also write tip sheets/fact sheets for the marketing department to use at sales conference; assist in setting the budget for the department on an annual basis, as well as track all expenses; I mentor junior staff and interns; I negotiate serial rights agreements; clear photo permissions; book advertising space; submit all Rizzoli titles for awards; and oversee all reporting for the publicity department. I also liaise with our foreign press representatives around the world to make sure they have all of the tools they need to promote Rizzoli books in their markets.

Prof Denning: What are some of your favorite parts of the job?

JN: I still get a thrill from securing a fabulous media placement! Flipping through a magazine or a newspaper, reading a blog or turning on the TV and seeing a review/feature that I negotiated is a natural high. I still catch myself grinning from ear-to-ear, eager to share with my friends and colleagues. I love the fact that each season offers something new to learn and on which to become a mini-expert.

Prof. Denning: Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace prepared you for your publishing career.

JN: The best part of my experience at Pace was being able to learn the basics at night in class, and then apply those lessons to the real world job experience. Conversely, when a subject matter in school was troublesome, I had great resources in the office to rely on for additional guidance and advice. The book production class was the best example of this. Early on, I never really understood printing schedules, 4 or 5 color printing and color corrections, or how some pages got bound inversely in the finished book. After seeing a book on press over at Watchtower, I had a much clearer understanding of the whole process, which led to a better understanding at the office as to why files are prepped the way that they are, why schedules are set with the buffer dates, etc. Truly a full-circle experience!

Prof. Denning: Have you always been interested publishing? Where did that passion come from?

JN: My love of books started with my parents. My mom was an English major in college and made it a point to surround me with books growing up. She enrolled me in the summer reading program at our local library year in and year out, she took me to our local Barnes & Noble at least once a week and never said no to a book purchase, and always indulged my reading habit, from Sweet Valley High to Garfield comics to the infamous school reading lists. No book was off-limits, even those that caused some other parents to panic. We played Scrabble and Mad-Libs together and as I grew older I read books dear to her, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, and the great Bard.

My father is an avid stamp collector and in the 1980’s decided to self-publish a book on his collection, going so far as to even create his own publishing company called Grounds for Divorce Publications (family joke – my parents are still together, 38 years and counting). He made me “publisher” and I got to sign all of the checks that came in as he sold them one at a time out of our basement. He was on the self-publishing bandwagon before it was even popular! All of this on the home front led to my participation in high school and college yearbook where I was a photo editor.

But I didn’t know I really wanted a career in publishing until I had an internship in college at Greenwood Press, an academic publisher, in their marketing department. My job was to read through all of the reviews that came in for the hardcover, highlight them, and type them up for the editors to use on the paperback reprints. After that, I was to go online and research organizations in which to promote the books, and in 1996, this was not as easy as it is today. The office had 1 internet connection, a dial-up modem, and each department had access to that one machine for one hour each day. I found the process fascinating and began looking into graduate programs that would allow me to learn more about the business and help me get a job. And I found Pace.

Prof Denning: What do you think the future holds for book publishers? Specifically the Publicist…how has technology changed the role of the publicist?

JN: The publicist has always done more than the job title suggests, but in this social media age, I think a publicist needs to be a web marketer and a voice for those unsure of how to navigate the ever-changing media landscape. A Facebook review by an influencer is just as key as a review in the New York Times these days. With so many competing outlets, the big hit is no longer all it takes to make a book, you need critical mass. The web makes niche marketing and publicity that much easier than in years past, and having a specialty, while always appreciated and valuable, is even more critical in my mind.

Prof. Denning: What do you think are the essential skills our students need to leave the program with in order to succeed in the industry? For those looking to survive and thrive in this industry?

JN: Be a professional student, and I do not mean that with its usual negative connotations. The more you are willing to learn and practice new things, the better the publishing professional you will become. Take a professional development class, offer to work on a project outside of your comfort zone–the more you are willing to understand the bigger picture and help with all aspects of the creative and selling process, the more in demand you will be. But, do have a concentration, an area of expertise will never fail you, as long as you admit it may have to be modified in 2, 5, or 10 years.

Prof. Denning: What were some of the highlights of your graduate experience?

JN: My internship while at Pace was in the special sales department of Oxford University Press. Back in 1998, Amazon was a special sales account…oh, how times have changed! It was my first corporate job, complete with workplace politics, expectations. Being a sales rep for 8 months was an invaluable experience; I had to work closely with the warehouse and customer service, all valuable skills that I still use today. But I wasn’t a fan of chasing the purchase order and when I realized that a sales rep basically has the same conversation as a publicist, but asks for time and talent instead, I knew I needed to change my focus and get a job in publicity!

Prof. Denning: What advice would you give to students who still have to write their graduate thesis papers?

JN: This could be the very last paper you ever write in an academic setting, so go out with a bang! You have chosen a career in publishing, so in many ways this should be the easiest paper you have ever written. Hopefully you will have had some real world experience to bring to the pages, and let your voice be heard. Since the invention of moveable type, the world has been shaped by those with a voice and the willingness to use that voice. While the landscape may continue to migrate from paper to screen, people still want a voice educating them, entertaining them, and informing them. The world may be smaller and faster these days, but human nature is still the same. We are curious and the written word, in whatever format, is still the great equalizer. Be eager, be willing to learn, be willing to go the extra step, be willing to make a mistake, but always be yourself.

Prof Denning: What can students entering the field do to set themselves apart from other applicants? Do you look for anything specific on a resume or in an interview?

JN: As for what I look for in potential intern candidates and new hires, I like to see well-roundedness, natural curiosity, a love of books, and someone who is not afraid to put in their dues.

Prof. Denning: How have you been involved in the program since graduating?

JN: In 2005 I had the opportunity to be a guest lecturer in Melissa Rosati’s marketing class. Dating back to my days at Abrams, I have always been in charge of hiring interns and since then have always reached out to Pace, my way of giving back to the program that gave me my start. Over the years I think I have had 6-8 Pace interns.

This interview has been condensed. To read the full interview, click here.

For more interviews with alumni, faculty, and staff of Pace’s MS in Publishing Program, information on job and internship opportunities, and events, visit the MS in Publishing blog at http://mspub.blogs.pace.edu/.

Pace in Publishing: The Write Stuff

Michelle Richter was a Mutual Fund Accounting Specialist before trading in banking for book publishing and joining Pace’s MS in Publishing program. Now the alumna is working with bestselling authors and even the Kardashian sisters, who called her “blazingly efficient” in the acknowledgments for their Kardashian Konfidential.

MS in Publishing Professor and Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach Jane Kinney-Denning sat down with Publishing alumna Michelle Richter ’06 to talk about Pace’s program and the publishing industry.

Pace MS in Publishing—Alumni in the Spotlight

Michelle Richter left a career in finance and banking to attend Pace’s Publishing program, from which she graduated in 2006. She joined St. Martin’s Press the same year, as an editorial assistant, and just celebrated her sixth anniversary there. In addition to assisting a very busy executive editor with a diverse and large list, she has edited and continues to seek her own book projects. She’s worked with bestselling authors including Gene Wilder and Ian K. Smith, MD; with authors well-known in other media such as Janice Lieberman and the Kardashian sisters; and with experts in their fields on fiction and on nonfiction topics including diet, cookbooks and food writing, relationships, memoir/biography, pop culture, humor, pets, and parenting. She has a particular interest in book club fiction and mysteries, memoir, and economics, business, and sociology. In this interview, Michelle will share her thoughts and insights on the challenges and opportunities for aspiring editors in today’s dynamic and competitive trade book market.

Professor Denning: Hi Michelle, and thank you for agreeing to do this interview. It has been 6 years since you graduated from the M.S. in Publishing program and you have been at St. Martin’s Press since then. Can you tell us a bit about St. Martin’s and some of the work you have done there?

Michelle Richter: You’re very welcome! St. Martin’s Press is part of Macmillan Publishers; while we’re one of the big publishers, we’re privately held by a German family so it’s not as corporate as some. And I’m very lucky to get to work in the historic Flatiron building! People tend to stay here a long time, and we work on a diverse array of projects. I’ve acquired and edited my own projects, and work closely with my boss on her list. She works with a lot of big personalities, and writers with strong points of view. So I’ve worked on fiction, memoir, diet/cooking/food writing, pop culture, relationships, pets, and humor. I worked with the Kardashian sisters on Kardashian Confidential and with Albert Brooks on his first novel 2030, among others. I’ve worked on some books published originally in the UK, a few of them by rock journalist Mick Wall, and on some books with a packager, like Animals with Hangovers. Two of the books I’ve edited are a book on Springsteen’s music called Magic in the Night and a dog training book called Imagine Life with a Well-Behaved Dog.

Prof. Denning: How has the industry changed since you began your career? You have been at the same company since graduating which can have many benefits. Can you tell us a bit about the changes you have seen at the company and/or in the industry since starting there?

MR: It’s an invaluable experience to have colleagues—editors, publicity directors, publishers—who’ve been here 10, 20, 30 years. Our editor in chief started his career here. So I’m surrounded by a lot of experienced, smart people who I can learn a lot from, and I try to do that every day. And I have been able to be a resource for some colleagues too. Working with the same editor for so long, we anticipate each other’s thoughts and can be collaborative, but also allows me some autonomy.

The industry has suffered some setbacks, certainly, but also some advances. A lot of companies, including ours, had layoffs a few years back. We were lucky not to be harder hit, but it was a little scary. Borders is gone, HB Fenn in Canada is gone, a lot of independent booksellers have closed. But ebooks and digital marketing have exploded, and that’s definitely something we think about and talk about all the time, even as we all still love the physical book.

Prof. Denning: Tell us a bit about what your job entails.

MR: I read submissions (both my own and my boss’s), edit, shepherd books through the production process, do photo research, write copy, create P&Ls, submit check requests, make restaurant reservations, order books, send out galleys for blurbs, reach out to agents so they know I’m here and what I’m looking to acquire. I go to writers conferences every so often. I’m on the phone all the time with authors, agents, colleagues in sales, marketing, publicity, design, art, royalties, contracts, and so on.

Prof. Denning: How do you think technology/social media fit into/impact the role of those on the editorial side of things in trade book publishing?

MR: We all got e-readers, so we no longer have to copy and distribute huge manuscripts when we want reads from colleagues. That’s one of the best things that happened to us. And was also a big part of our CEO’s green initiative. We always ask authors about their social media presence and have guidelines to help them (even dedicated social media staff that we’ll ask to come to meetings with authors sometimes). A lot of the social media boom is more relevant to our marketing process than editorial, but an author’s Facebook or Twitter followers, or high-traffic website or blog, can also be a selling point for us at editorial meeting or launch.

Prof. Denning: What do you think the future holds for book publishers? Do you think the launch of designated eBook readers and the iPad (and subsequent tablets) forever changed publishing as we know it?

MR: They definitely have. Most of us are here because we love books, physical books, but eBooks can’t be ignored. There’s a team at Macmillan who’s creating eBooks of backlist titles, and we always try to secure electronic rights when we acquire. Someone’s always going to want a book printed on paper, particularly art books and gorgeous full-color books. But for romance and genre fiction, where mass markets were huge, eBooks are taking over. It’s immediate gratification for readers who tear through books. I’ve seen a huge uptick in eBook sales for one fiction writer we work with, from his penultimate book to his most recent one. At one point, eBooks surpassed physical books. But he also sold more physical books than ever before, and appeared higher on the bestseller list than ever before, so we think his audience expanded rather than just shifting formats. And that’s fabulous.

Prof. Denning: What do you think the biggest trends in book publishing are today? The biggest challenges that Publishers face?

MR: Anglophilia is riding high, with remakes of LeCarre and Downton Abbey fever coming on the heels of Prince William’s wedding. Reality TV is here to stay, and so all the “stars” keep trying to sell us books. Vampires and zombies are still kicking, and of course, political books are huge this year. The biggest challenge is not riding a trend past its expiration date, and trying to keep ahead of the curve.

Prof. Denning: Would you like to speculate on the future eBooks? Books in general? What areas to you think will be the most impacted (textbooks, children’s, trade, graphic novels, romance etc.)?

MR: I think romance is going to continue to grow in eBooks, and that we’ll see a strong online presence for them, with lots of free or low cost eBooks to entice readers to try a new author. Sci-fi/fantasy and mystery titles (traditionally mass market) will likely grow with them. And we really strive to create eBook editions of every title we acquire, from commercial fiction to diet books to memoir, and so on. We are doing more and more eBooks that are highly illustrated as advances occur with the devices they can be read on (like the iPad and the color Nook); this is something we couldn’t do a couple of years ago. And eBooks will make it even easier to customize textbooks to meet the needs of individual colleges and professors.

Prof. Denning: Have you always been interested in publishing? Where did that passion come from? What do you see yourself doing in the next ten years?

MR: Honestly, until right before I applied to Pace, it never even occurred to me as a career. I’d always loved books and reading, and thought about majoring in English. But I didn’t want to teach or be a lawyer, so what would I do with that degree? So I majored in Economics, worked in finance for a number of years and then burnt out. I started trying to figure out what to do next, wanted to do something with books, and then a friend tipped me off to the Publishing program at Pace. So I quit my job, moved to NYC, and enrolled.

I’d like to continue working at a publisher, whether this one or another, for at least a few more years, and want to acquire more titles. Maybe at some point, I’ll want to try to move to the agenting side, but for now, I’m pretty content.

Prof. Denning: Please tell me a bit about your educational experience at Pace and how it prepared you for your publishing career.

MR: Professors Soares and Carroll (and you!) taught me some practical skills that I was able to put into practice right away, with some adaptations, of course. So did Professor Rabinowitz. At my interview for the job I have now, I was given homework: I had to write readers reports for a novel and a nonfiction proposal and then send them back to my now boss. Fortunately, we’d done that in your class, so it was a snap. The knowledge I gained in the production class has been a godsend. I learned how all the departments at a publisher work together. Reading PW and the WSJ while at Pace and listening to NPR helped me know what was going on the industry, so I could present myself well at interviews.

Prof. Denning: What was the topic of your thesis paper? What advice would you give to students who still have to write their papers?

MR: My topic was literary awards and whether they actually sell books (except for the National Book Award, the answer is usually no, BTW.) I’d suggest that they choose a topic they can be passionate about, and that they do their research early so they can take their time writing it.

Prof. Denning: What were some of the highlights of your graduate experience?

MR: I had a great internship in the Tor publicity department, and learned so much there. I worked really hard, but it was so valuable for showing me the kind of environment I’d love to work in, what I wanted to do, and what I didn’t. I took a few courses with Professor Soares, and I think she’s such a force, and a wealth of knowledge. She brought in great guest speakers, like Michael Denneny, who’d been an editor at SMP, and a publicist from Abrams, to share their experiences. We created marketing plans and talked about bookstore placement and jackets and publicity. Professor Carroll’s copyediting class still helps me today, and her magazine writing and editing course took me out of my comfort zone and made me a better writer. She introduced me to Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings, and I still hear her voice in my head saying “The readiness is all.”

Prof. Denning: What do you think are the essential skills our students need to leave the program with in order to succeed in the industry today?

MR: Adaptability; ability to read quickly; an ability to write a readers report, launch copy/flap copy/galley letter to entice readers, reviewers and sales reps; public speaking skills and relative ease in speaking to a room full of potentially bored or hostile listeners; knowledge of Excel and Word and no fear of learning new technology; knowledge of the industry.

Prof. Denning: Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students?

MR: Choose carefully the first job you take in the industry, as it can be hard to switch departments once you’re hired. It’s not impossible, but it can take a long time. Do your research before your interview if you can, so you know what kind of books they publish and what kind of books the editor acquires. When someone asks who your favorite writers are, try to have at least some who are alive and still writing.

Prof. Denning: To those looking to survive and thrive in this industry?

MR: Realize that you’re always selling, no matter which department you’re in—selling yourself, your authors, your employer, your work to potential employers, agents, colleagues, booksellers, reviewers. Never stop learning.

For more interviews with alumni, faculty, and staff of Pace’s MS in Publishing Program, information on job and internship opportunities, and events, visit the MS in Publishing blog at http://mspub.blogs.pace.edu/.