On Tuesday, March 20, twenty-one Pace undergraduate and M.S. in Publishing students walked through a set of glass doors into Hachette Book Group’s New York city office. The event was coordinated by Maria Pesantez, Pace University’s Assistant Director of Employer Relations (Career Services) and Jane Kinney-Denning, the M.S. in Publishing program’s Executive Director of Internships and Corporate Outreach.
Glancing excitedly at employee photos and a huge neon “H” that illuminates dozens of HBG titles, the group was welcomed to the “Big 5” publisher by Human Resources Recruiter Ashley Orlando. In a conference room off the main lobby, students were introduced to HBG’s intern recruiting process, encouraged to pursue a career in book marketing by M.S. in Publishing alumnus Miguel Cervantes (now the Marketing Coordinator of Hachette’s PublicAffairs and Nation Books imprints), and treated to a panel discussion with HBG’s Senior Management team, where publishers and editors discussed their greatest achievements, their biggest fears, and the jobs they would have chosen had they not gone into publishing (how else does “training sea otters” come up in casual conversation?).
H H H
Hachette Book Group (HBG) is a leading trade publisher in the U.S. home to a number of big-name imprints like Little, Brown and Company, Grand Central Publishing, and Perseus Books. A division of the third largest trade and educational book publisher in the world, Hachette Livre, HBG publishes 2,000 books for adults and young readers each year and employs 500 people in the city alone. The publisher also has a recording studio in-house, as audiobooks are now the “fastest growing segment” of the digital publishing industry.
When it comes to recruiting, Orlando looks for specific, well-written cover letters, creatively-formatted resumes, thank-you notes after interviews, and, of course, enthusiasm for the industry.
“The number one thing I look for is passion,” says Orlando. “Anytime I’m looking at a resume, anytime I’m looking at a cover letter, anytime I’m having a conversation with a student, I’m really looking to see that this person really wants to be here – that this person has spent their whole life reading and is like me, where if they saw their whole desk covered in books every day, they’d feel like they’d made it.”
H H H
Miguel Cervantes has been a Marketing Coordinator within Perseus Books since 2016. His primary responsibilities include writing and executing marketing plans, creating sales conference presentations, coordinating marketing timelines, and managing seasonal catalogs.
Cervantes is no stranger to Pace University. In addition to graduating from the publishing program in 2014, he was a frequent guest-lecturer in Professor Lian’s Marketing Principles and Practices class last fall. His main challenge is making books more compelling than TV.
“How much does a hardcover book cost? $26 to $28 dollars, depending on page count. A paperback book is going to be anywhere from $16.99 to $22-ish dollars. And you have to entertain the book with your time. Netflix is how much? $10. And it’s going to entertain you all day,” said Cervantes. “Publishers are not in competition with each other anymore. I’m in competition for your discretionary time.”
Cervantes recommends students look into marketing when applying for publishing internships, as marketing is a less competitive field than editorial. Knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite is a definite plus, and while coding experience is definite plus, it’s generally not required.
“The value proposition of a book is hard to pitch, but it’s really exciting if you believe in it. And I believe in my books.”
H H H
To the delight of everyone in attendance, HBG invited members of its senior management team to speak at the event. Panelists included Lara Heimert, Publisher of Basic Books; Alvina Ling, VP, Editor-in-Chief of Little, Brown Young Readers; Rena Kornbluh, Vice President, Executive Managing Editor of HBG; Susan Weinberg, Senior Vice President and Publisher for Perseus Books; Josh Kendall, Executive Editor, VP, Editorial Director of Mulholland Books; Ned Rust, Vice President and Publisher for James Patterson; and Nancy Wiese, VP, Subsidiary Rights at Hachette Book Group. Clive Priddle, Publisher of Public Affairs, moderated the discussion.
Panelists were resolute in their belief that mainstream publishing will remain a tour de force in the industry despite Amazon, Google Translate, machine learning, and the ever-looming prospect of Barnes & Noble going out of business. They recommended that publishing students:
- Work hard, be detail-oriented, and train themselves to make decisions quickly
- Learn to multitask and prioritize information
- Be simultaneously patient and driven
- Use clear language in all forms of written communication
- Don’t wait for the perfect position – get in and get started
- Learn how to communicate honest, earnest enthusiasm for books
- Educate themselves as to who is publishing what
- Consider subscribing to Literary Hub, Electric Literature, The Millions, and The New York Times Book Review
- Find their niche (i.e. look beyond editorial)
- Foster relationships with colleagues and supervisors
Thank you for having us, Hachette Book Group!