In this alumni interview, Prof. Denning speaks with Amanda Millin, an MS in Publishing graduate who has furthered her publishing career as the associate managing editor of RobbReport.com.
As the associate managing editor of RobbReport.com, Amanda Millin helps oversee all the content that is published on the website, editing and writing across all categories. She also spearheads Robb Report’s eNewsletters and works closely with the magazine’s social media outlets. Millin began her career with an M.S. in book and magazine publishing from Pace University, New York in 2009, and has worked at Angeleno, a regional celebrity and luxury-lifestyle magazine in Los Angeles. Before entering the magazine world, she worked at the Santa Barbara Daily Sound, a daily newspaper on California’s central coast, and at the publisher W.W. Norton & Company, where she focused on titles in the architecture and psychology categories. Outside of her professional endeavors, Millin is an avid adventure traveler and athlete.
Professor Denning: Hi Amanda! Could you tell me where you currently work and what is your title?
Amanda: I am currently the associate managing editor of RobbReport.com. I have been with Robb Report for five years, and have spent the vast majority of my time on print. This August, I made the jump to digital publishing, which is both exciting and challenging. Robb Report is a 40-year-old luxury lifestyle publication with magazines in 15 countries and counting. In addition to an ever-growing digital presence, we also have three sister print magazines in the United States: Health & Wellness, Home & Style, and Collection.
Professor Denning: Can you describe what your job entails and how you interact with the other members of the company?
Amanda: A lot of my current position is assigning and trafficking stories. We are publishing 50 online stories a week with a digital staff of only six full-time editors and writers, so things are busy, and stories can easily fall through the cracks. I maintain our roster of assignments, make sure our freelancers are paid, and help coordinate with the art department so that images are sourced and ready at the same time as final text. I also help with story development whenever possible and work directly with writers, performing first edits or top edits on their work. Being solely on the web has also given me the opportunity to work directly with our programmers—to help make our site beautiful and easy to read—and with our web analytics team to better understand what our audience likes to read. To me, it is a great combination of creativity, business management, and digital skills, which are becoming increasingly important.
Professor Denning: Why did you choose the particular field or aspect of publishing and how did you get this job?
Amanda: I moved to New York and started Pace’s graduate program in Fall 2007, convinced I wanted to work in book publishing. After my time at Pace and a great internship at W.W. Norton & Company, which turned into a full-time position, I realized I wanted faster deadlines and my home (and warmer) state of California. Magazine work is more prevalent in Los Angeles than books, which worked in my favor, and I interned at a regional, celebrity publication entitled Angeleno before landing a paid internship at Robb Report. Out of a team of approximately 10 interns, an editor at Angeleno noticed my work, knew of an paid internship at Robb Report, and she recommended me for the position. I have worked my way up from there. Never underestimate the power of networking, hard work, and dedication. The right people will notice, and it will always pay off!
Professor Denning: What are some of your favorite parts of your job? What are the perks and highlights of being part of the publishing industry?
Amanda: My passion has always been reading and writing, so the publishing industry is a natural fit for me. But what I love about editing is that it combines many facets of my personality. I get to be creative and exercise my journalistic skills when I want, taking on stories and assignments that I find interesting and compelling. Making these stories come to life often requires traveling to exciting places and meeting new and innovative people who challenge you to open your mind and switch your perspectives. But I also am able to combine the creativity with daily managerial tasks, which I equally enjoy. Managing writers and being able to collaborate with art directors, ad sales people, web programmers, and production and circulation teams is a huge part of why I love my job, and it is a balance that I could not get from writing alone.
Professor Denning: How do you think that technology has impacted/continues to impact the Publishing Industry? In particular, sales?
Amanda: I truly don’t believe print is dying, although I do believe the way people digest content is evolving. The average modern-day reader has some print magazines they flip through, some hard book copies, possibly an e-book of some kind, and also reads articles online, on their phone, and on their tablet. It varies from person to person, but I think the key is that it is a combination of mediums. Social media and aggregate news sites now drive traffic to online stories, but online stories can drive traffic to print stories and visa versa. I don’t see them as competing mediums, but rather ways that when combined, can build the sales of each.
Professor Denning: Do you have any thoughts about what the future might hold for bookselling? If so, what do you think are the biggest challenges in the Publishing Industry today?
Amanda: For now, I think the publishing industry will continue to be a combination of print and online mediums, but technology is changing so quickly, it is difficult to predict. It will be exciting to see how things have changed in a few short years.
Professor Denning: Where do you see yourself in the future — 5 to 10 years into your career?
Amanda: I really want to make the leap from covering luxury lifestyle products to science, conservation, and environmental issues. I am not quite sure what that look like yet. Maybe a startup website or maybe switching mediums altogether and working in podcasts.
Professor Denning: Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace prepared you for your publishing career.
Amanda: As I mentioned above, I like that being an editor allows me to be well rounded, and the M.S. in Publishing program, I felt, taught me to be just that. Yes, I was able to strengthen my writing skills, but it offered me much more. There are so many talented writers and journalists out there, but not everyone knows the ins and out of the Adobe Suite, or how to draft a writer’s contract, or how to make a production schedule that will work for an entire company. In my eyes, Pace is like combining a master’s in journalism with an MBA, and therefore, provides a unique competitive edge that helps you standout from all the bloggers and tastemakers.
Professor Denning: What were some of the highlights of your graduate experience?
Amanda: Pace has some of the most successful, interesting professors in the publishing industry. Sitting in class and listening to Professor Soares talk about her time working on the “Harry Potter” books is something I will never forget. She helped shape a cultural phenomenon. That’s incredible!
Professor Denning: Did you do an internship(s) while getting you degree? Can you tell us a bit about your experience(s)?
Amanda: I interviewed for an internship at W.W. Norton & Company to fulfill my internship requirement, and much to shock and amazement, they offered me a full-time position instead. So during my actual time at Pace, I technically never had an internship, but it was the internship program at Pace that directly placed me in my job.
Professor Denning: What was your topic for your thesis paper? Do you have any advice or tips for students currently writing theirs?
Amanda: My thesis was about book censorship in school libraries. I love to tell stories, but I also strongly believe in the power of the written word and everyone’s right to be educated. Controlling messages, to me, is a huge disservice and can be potentially dangerous to society. (Naturally, Fahrenheit 451 is one of my all time favorites.) So when writing a thesis, no matter how niche it is, I think it needs to be something that you’re passionate about. It’s a big undertaking, and you spend an incredible amount of time with it, so the topic needs to be something that ignites a fire within you.
Professor 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?
Amanda: Find ways to let your passion shine through. Most of us are not in this career for the money. We are here because something drives us to be, and that is unique for everyone. Tap into what that is and don’t be afraid to show it. As for resumes, be sure your text is as clean as possible. Have someone else edit it for you. It is hard to apply for a position as an editor or a writer when there are mistakes. The editor will notice!
Thank you for doing this interview with us!