Erin Galloway is a May 2007 graduate of the MS in Publishing program. Erin began her career as an editorial assistant at Dorchester Publishing and was promoted to Marketing & Publicity Coordinator and then Manager of Marketing. In these capacities, Erin coordinated marketing and publicity campaigns for all of Dorchester’s titles, as well as managed Dorchester’s consumer advertising. Erin is currently a Senior Publicist for Berkley/NAL, a division of Penguin Group (USA), managing publicity campaigns for New York Times Bestselling authors, such as Nora Roberts, Sylvia Day, Maya Banks, and Nalini Singh.
Prof. Denning: Hi Erin and thank you for agreeing to do this interview. It has been 5 years since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2007. Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?
Erin: Thank you for having me, Professor Denning! It’s been an exciting five years since I graduated from Pace. Like many people interested in making a career in publishing, I initially thought I wanted to work in editorial and began my career as an editorial assistant. It was a wise supervisor who told me I was better suited for marketing and publicity and then promoted me into an available position. It has absolutely been the right fit for me. I am able to share my passion for books with others and parlay that into great media coverage and events for the authors I work with.
Prof. Denning: What does your job as a Senior Publicist at Berkley/NAL Penguin Group entail? How do you interact with the other members of the publishing team? How has the position changed since you first began working at Berkley/NAL Penguin Group?
Erin: The wonderful thing about publicity is that no day is the same, but some of the things I do on a regular basis are write press materials (galley letters, press releases, author Q&As, etc.), do mailings, plan author tours and events, and pitch media contacts.
Personally, I have found that one of the advantages of coming from a small publishing house to a larger one is that I have a good understanding of how interdependent the various departments in a publishing house are. That has been immeasurably helpful in my time at Penguin because even when I didn’t know exactly who to contact about a particular question or problem I had, I usually knew where to bErinin looking. I work most closely with our editorial and marketing departments on planning author publicity and promotion. I’m also regularly in touch with managing editorial physical and electronic galleys and in touch with sales to update them on event and tour plans and to get their feedback on book sales and promotion.
My position has evolved most over the last year as I’ve taken on more responsibility and been promoted to Senior Publicist. I attend more interdepartmental strategy meetings, which are not only interesting but have also helped me to better understand the entire publishing process and the logic behind various decisions and strategies. I also work closely with and mentor our publicity assistant that works on our romance titles.
Prof Denning: What are some of your favorite parts of your job? What do you love about it? What are the perks and highlights of being part of the publishing industry?
Erin: The top perk of being in the publishing industry is a bottomless well of reading material! I will never grow tired of being able to read a manuscript months before a book is on the shelf or being a part of the buzz building for a special book. I love books so being able to read and promote them for a living is really the best of all worlds. I’m a people person, so I also really enjoy working with authors and developing relationships with key media contacts and booksellers. Developing those relationships is key for a publicist because when you tell them you have a really special book they just have to pay attention to, they listen.
Prof. Denning: How does technology/social media fit into/impact a publicists’ role in the industry?
Erin: The internet and social media have affected huge change in book publicity. The important thing is for a publicist is to be able to connect with readers in the manner the reader desires. Today that’s truly via the internet. So we work with blogs, maintain various company Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, and assist authors in developing and improving their online presence and social media channels.
Prof. Denning: Tell us a bit about Berkley/NAL Penguin Group and some of the initiatives they have taken in response to new technological developments. What makes differentiates it as a publishing house?
Erin: Berkley/NAL is an exciting place to work and we’ve worked hard to keep apace or ahead of trends and satisfy readers’ desire for books in multiple formats. Berkley/NAL launched InterMix, our e-initial imprint, in January 2011. InterMix published Beth Kery’s wildly successful eight-part serialized erotic romance novel this summer. Six of the eight parts in the series hit the New York Times e-book fiction bestseller list and we sold over 400,000 total e-book units.
I believe that what truly sets Berkley/NAL and Penguin as a whole apart from other publishing houses is the culture and character of the company. People truly love working here; it’s a very supportive environment, and innovation is appreciated and encouraged.
Prof Denning: During your time at Dorchester Publishing, you held different positions ranging from Marketing Coordinator to Editorial Assistant. Was this an easy transition between different aspects of publishing and what prompted you to make the switch? What advice would you give to a young publishing professional hoping to transition between different industry concentrations?
Erin: I found the switch to be quite natural, but I believe a great deal of that was due to my personality and a natural aptitude for promotion and an honest passion for books, particularly romance fiction. My enthusiasm is genuine and the people I work with know that. Of course, there was a learning curve and there were a lot of nuts and bolts I had to figure out but my determination to improve and excitement for my work were huge assets.
If you are looking to transition, I would first recommend meeting with someone who works in the area of the industry you hope to move into. It’s important for you to understand what a position in that field will entail and if it may be a good fit for you. Many of the larger publishing houses also offer mentoring programs where you can be placed with a mentor in another of the business. I think it’s easiest to switch “tracks” in the first few years of your career. It becomes much more challenging after that.
Prof. Denning: Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace prepared you for your publishing career.
Erin: Pace gave me a fantastic foundation for a career in the publishing industry. I saw the “big picture” much more clearly because I had a better understanding of all of the different departments in a publishing house and the roles they play. Many of the insights various professors shared have also been helpful. Even if something didn’t seem relevant at the time, I often find myself remembering a particular point a professor made and how relevant it is to what I’m doing today. Pace also made me feel much more confident about putting my skills to practical use in the work environment. I also formed a nice network of contacts through the Pace program.
Erin: Two of the big highlights of my time at Pace were my internship and my classes with Professor Soares. My internship in editorial and publicity for Dorchester was a very rewarding hands-on experience. I learned so much about the business of publishing and it proved to me that this was the right career path for me. By proving myself during my internship, I made a positive impression upon the staff at Dorchester and they hired me several months later when a full time position when one became available.
Professor Soares is a very knowledgeable industry veteran and I really appreciated her classes because the information she conveyed was practical and easy to apply. She also took the time to help me prepare for my job interview at Dorchester and to give me “real world” advice about accepting a job in publishing and what my expectations should be.
Of course, the friendships I formed with other classmates were also an important part of my experience and have been very helpful in my career.
Prof. Denning: What advice would you give to students who still have to write their graduate thesis papers? What were the most important points you learned from your own thesis, titled “Maintaining and Increasing Romance Readership Through Reinvention and Innovation?”
Erin: Choose a topic that really interests you and is relevant to your career path. Writing a thesis is hard work, but it means so much more when the subject matter truly affects your career path. I also recommend interviewing a number of people from different companies in the industry. I met a number of interesting people during the course of my thesis and their insights helped me gain a better perspective on the publishing industry.
Prof. Denning: What advice would you give 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?
Erin: First, be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses and what your real skills are. Like many people, I wanted to work in editorial because I knew I wanted to work with authors and editorial is the most well-known area of the publishing industry. Once I bErinan working in publishing and was offered the opportunity to move into marketing and publicity, I discovered that is where I could make the greatest contribution and really put my skill set to use.
Also, think really hard about what you are passionate about and how that may serve you in publishing. As an exercise Professor Soares once asked each person in my class to share what they read in their spare time and what area of publishing they hoped to work in. It didn’t take us long to realize that the books we’re passionate were often a direct indicator of where we wanted to end up. While I’m sure you’ve heard it before, it’s also vital that your resume contain no errors and that you make a concerted effort to personalize your cover letter to the job you are applying for.
Prof. Denning: How have you been involved in the program since graduating?
Erin: While I can’t say I’ve specifically been involved in the program since graduating, the connections I formed while in the program have proven long-lasting. I’ve maintained close friendships with a number of my fellow graduates, hired a number of Pace students as interns and have helped several grads find their first job in the industry.
Prof. Denning: How has the industry changed since you began your career? (What was the work environment like then (in terms of job opportunities) then as opposed to now?)
Erin: It’s incredible how much the industry has changed in the last five years. Electronic only publishers have grown in size and profit and most of the major traditional publishers have launched e-initial imprints. I came into the industry not long before the economy took a huge hit and job opportunities were scare. Thankfully, since then the industry has evened out to a great dErinree and changing technology has provided many new job opportunities across a number of fields—production, digital workflow, publicity, marketing, etc.
Prof. Denning: Have you always been interested publishing? Where did that passion come from?
Erin: I have always been passionate about books and the written word. I knew I would have a job that involved writing, but I wasn’t sure exactly what shape it would take. I ran my college newspaper and for a time I believed I would write for a newspaper or a magazine. My mother was the first person to say that I should look into the publishing industry because I’m most passionate about books. Not long after that an undergraduate professor of mine suggested the Pace program and that’s when I really began to believe I could have a career in the book industry. My experience at Pace only cemented that belief.
Prof Denning: What do you think the future holds for book publishers, specifically for publicists and graduates hoping to become publicists?
Erin: If only I had a crystal ball! I think we’re in for many more changes in the upcoming years with ever-evolving technology. Publicity is going to continue changing and I think it will be important for all of us to have wide ranging skills. At the end of the day one thing remains the same. No matter how books are published, there will always need to be people whose job it is to promote those books.
Prof: Denning: What do you think the biggest trends in book publishing are today? The biggest challenges that Publishers face?
Erin: Publishing is not known for being the most nimble and easy going when it comes to accepting change. Our business model is an old one and I think one of the major challenges we face is putting ourselves in a position where we can react to trends and opportunities as quickly as possible. We’re certainly working hard toward that goal as the recent crop of books that were originally self-published and then acquired by major houses and published with extraordinarily rapid schedules has shown.
Prof. Denning: What initiatives has Berkley/NAL Penguin Group taken in terms of eBooks? Would you like to speculate on the future of e-books and books in general? What areas to you think will be the most impacted (textbooks, children’s, trade, graphic novels, romance etc.)?
Erin: Among other things, Berkley/NAL is very well known for its genre fiction. Genre fiction and genre fiction readers have always been at the forefront of technological advances because genre readers are the most voracious. So genre publishers must meet the challenge by being at the forefront as well. We’ve had incredible success with our InterMix e-book imprint and I believe we will continue to. The print book certainly isn’t going away any time soon but the entire industry, particularly on the fiction side has seen a dramatic rise in e-book sales. I think based on its very nature, romance, and other genre fiction, will continue to be the trendsetters in terms of taking advantage of new technology and leading the way when it comes to digital sales.
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?
Erin: With today’s technology it seems that various aspects of publishing are changing every day. It’s more important than ever to understand the broad picture of the industry and how all of the puzzle pieces fit together. It’s also vital to have skills that can be used across multiple areas of the business. Five years ago it certainly wasn’t necessary for a publicist and marketer to be a Facebook whiz, whereas today it’s vital. Be mindful of emerging technology and improve your skills across all areas. I promise this will help you throughout your career.
Prof. Denning: Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students and to those looking to survive and thrive in this industry?
Erin: I heard over and over again while I was at Pace that the book publishing industry was meant for people who are passionate about books and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. After working in it for five years I have to say that is true. You won’t become rich or famous by working in book publishing, but if books are your passion you can find an incredibly exciting and fulfilling career in publishing. I joke that if I could get a job as a professional chocolate taster, I’d take it in a heartbeat, but I genuinely love what I do. Meeting authors who write the books that capture my imagination and keep me turning the page until 2 a.m. is amazing. The excitement I feel about getting my hands on a manuscript or the knowledge that my publicity campaign played a role in putting a book on the New York Times list is a feeling I can’t quite describe. So my final advice is to determine if this is truly the field for you and if it is follow your passion and don’t look back.
Thank you very much for your time!