Alumni in the Spotlight: Drucilla Shultz

Alum_Spotlight3In this alumni interview, Prof. Denning speaks with Drucilla Shultz, an MS in Publishing graduate who has furthered her publishing career as Bookroom Editor at Publishers Weekly (also known as PW).

Before her publishing dreams took her to New York City, Drucilla Shultz was born and raised in a small town in southern Arkansas. After graduating with a degree in English from Hendrix College in 2011, Drucilla got a double shock: the Pace Publishing program (graduating in 2013) and New York City. Despite her mother calling every time something in NY makes the news and sending her vials of pepper spray with alarming frequency, Drucilla has settled into her life of reading and video games quite well and looks forward to her one year anniversary as Bookroom editor at Publishers Weekly.

Professor Denning: Hello Drucilla! Please tell us where you currently work and what is your job title? Also tell us a little about your company and what they do.

Drucilla: Hi! I currently work at Publishers Weekly as the Bookroom Editor. Publishers Weekly is a weekly magazine featuring industry news and pre-publication reviews. I’m also an editorial assistant at BookLife, which is our site that’s geared towards self-publishing news and helping self-published authors achieve their goals. Indie authors can submit their books for PW review consideration there as well.

Professor Denning: What does your job as a Bookroom Editor entail? Can you describe some of the work you do?

Drucilla: Well, I oversee the PW bookroom (and the interns that work there) and, consequently, deal with any non-technical issues with GalleyTracker, our online reviews submission system. In addition, I assist the Reviews editors in whatever they need, including taking on their role when they’re on vacation/leave. That’s one of my favorite parts of the job! As a BookLife editorial assistant, I answer customer service emails for BookLife and our PW Select marking program as well as conduct author interviews for the site.

Alumni pic
Drucilla Shultz

Professor Denning: How is it different working for your company (Publishers Weekly) than other publishing companies in the industry?

Drucilla: Technically this is my first “real” job in the publishing industry and the internships I’ve had have been very different from one another and from what I’m doing now. I’ve interned at the Children’s Book Council, Macmillan Children’s Publishing, and at PW (before they hired me, of course). I think two things set PW apart from other companies: the fact that we work on a weekly schedule (much faster than the 1-2+ year turnaround that publishing companies work with!) and that I get to see such a wide variety of books. Smaller publishers don’t have this problem, but when I talk to friends at bigger houses, they usually complain that they have tunnel vision in regards to their imprint. I love that I get to see all of the different books that come in.

Professor Denning: Why did you choose the particular field or aspect of publishing you are currently in? How did you get this job?

Drucilla: I’ve always wanted to do editorial work, but I kind of just lucked into the PW position. The previous Bookroom editor was promoted to a Reviews editor position and they knew I was looking for a job so they offered it to me. I had always heard about people being hired on after their internships ended and I’d think, “Those lucky dogs!” Now I guess I’m the lucky one.

Professor Denning: What do you love about of your job and what are some of your favorite parts? What are the perks and highlights of being part of the publishing industry?

Drucilla: The perks are definitely the books! I think everyone in the industry will agree with that (it certainly isn’t the paycheck!) I’ve been a huge reader all of my life so getting to learn the nuts and bolts behind my favorite pastime is always eye-opening. And I love that my job is so varied. I do so many different things in a day. If I get bored or frustrated, I can move onto something else for a short while.

Professor Denning: How do you think that technology has impacted and continues to impact the Publishing Industry? In particular, editing? Are there any traditional methods that you see staying the same despite technological advances?

Drucilla: Being able to get immediate feedback from an editor or literary agent or the printer or author or readers is the single most important thing to happen to the publishing industry. Being able to writing clear, precise comments on a manuscript and immediately send it to an author has definitely helped the editing process.

Professor Denning: Do you have any thoughts about what the future might hold for bookselling? What do you think are the biggest challenges in the Publishing Industry today?

Drucilla: I think we can safely assume at this point that print books aren’t going anywhere so I think the biggest challenge on the horizon is Amazon. Industry people have talked about Amazon’s business practices for years but Amazon still managed to stay in the background. It wasn’t until the Amazon-Hachette battle shoved them into the limelight that people outside the industry started to pay attention. I’m going to be very interested in what happens the next few years.

Professor Denning: Where do you see yourself in the future — 5 to 10 years into your career?

Drucilla: I’m not sure. I’m still absorbing the fact that this is the first time that my job doesn’t come with an hourly salary! I had never considered working at a magazine before (in fact I actively avoided magazines courses at Pace), but I really enjoy working at PW. I said this before, but I just love seeing all of the different genres that come in every day and unless I went to work at a smaller house (or managed to snag the right imprint at a bigger house), I wouldn’t get to see that.

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

Drucilla: Learning from people who were working in the industry was a big help because it gave me a better understanding of publishing. I had no idea what the industry was like before I started classes and my professors gave me a basic overview which my internships could expand.

Professor Denning: What were some of the highlights of your graduate experience? Are there any  teachers, courses or just fond classroom memories here?

Drucilla: Well, I’ve already mentioned how much I love children’s books so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I took the Children’s course with Professor Soares. It was my first taste of children’s publishing and I loved it. The guest speakers we had were fantastic. In fact, just about all of the guest speakers I had in my classes turned out to be wonderful. I was also surprised at how much I liked Supply Chain Management with Professor DiMascio. I didn’t really know what to expect and I learned a lot. Book Production and Design with Professor Delano was another favorite.

Professor Denning: Did you do an internship(s) while getting you degree? Can you tell us a bit about your experience(s)?

Drucilla: I took the Internship course and did my internship with the Children’s Book Council. I was the Library and Special Projects intern. It didn’t have much to do with the publishing industry per se, but it was a fun little internship. I love organizing and keeping track of things and that was basically what the internship was. And again, it was fascinating to see the wide variety of books come in.

Professor Denning: What was your topic for your thesis paper? Do you have any advice or tips for students currently writing theirs?

Drucilla: My topic was Crowdfunding in Publishing and, by extension, I included self-publishing. At the time, there wasn’t much information so I had to make it work. I recommend setting a schedule for yourself: a section/paragraph every couple of days. This way you won’t get burned out writing or put it off for too long. I also found index cards to be extremely helpful. I would write each of my sections on a different notecard so I could get a clearer view of what the paper would be before I had actually written it. Finally, don’t worry too much. I agonized over my graduate thesis and it turned out that the whole process was easier than what I had to do for my undergraduate thesis!

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?

Drucilla: Be extremely well read and not just in your genre. When I interview, I like to ask about favorite books or the last book that they read. I think it’s a good way to evaluate not just an applicant, but any person. I just discover “reading challenges” on the internet and I highly recommend them. There are many different kinds and they’re a good way to cover a wide variety of books that you otherwise may not have picked up.

Professor Denning: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Drucilla: Lots of really clichéd advice comes to mind, but other than that, make friends in the industry. Not networking, but actual friends. It’s such a stress reliever to be able to talk to someone who understands your job. And you never know when they’ll be able to pass along that book you’ve been dying to read!

Thank you for doing this interview with us!

Alumni in the Spotlight

Alum_Spotlight3In this alumni interview, Prof. Denning speaks with Dan Shao and Mengqi Li, two recent MS in Publishing graduates who have returned to China to continue their publishing careers.

Dan Shao graduated from Pace in May 2013 after working at Open Road Integrated Media for two years. Now she is the Deputy Director of Platform Operation Department at CNPIEC (China National Publications Import and Export Company). She started her path to publishing in childhood. Growing up in her family’s printing factory, she loved the smell of paper and ink and started to study all the different ways of binding. Dan received her bachelor’s degree from Zhejiang Gongshan University in editing and publishing and worked for her university’s press as an editor for a year. She then attended Pace University’s MS in Publishing program to start her fantastic digital publishing journey.

Prof. Denning:  Hi, Dan. Could you tell me a little about the progression of your career since graduating from Pace? How has the adjustment been, from school to work?

Dan: My path was quite simple. I started my internship at Open Road Integrated Media in my third semester, which turned into full-time employment after I graduated in 2013. The next year, I went back to China to work for CNPIEC, which stands for China National Publication Import and Export (Group) Company.

Working for a company and doing a master’s degree at school are quite different. There are lots of new things to learn and adapt to…little things like how to book a meeting room, get familiar with the kitchen (haha, just kidding), everything is brand new to me. I think the internship helped me a lot—helped me transition from school to work smoothly. Also, I am doing something that’s real; the books I created will be sold in Apple Store and Amazon straight to the readers’ hands. That makes me really excited be involved in this industry.

Please tell us about your experience at Pace studying for your MS in Publishing degree.

Dan: I entered Pace after one year working as an editor in China because I thought the world was turning to digital, and I need to learn something new. Pace offered me all the good resources, the professors, the wonderful lab (I learned all publishing-related software here, did lots of my homework here, talked with my lovely classmates here… wonderful memories!), and of course networking.

The thing I love most about Pace is that lots of our professors come from the industry and know the industry very well. We learned things both from the textbook and the professors’ rich experience. They taught us comprehensive knowledge an provided  hands-on training. I really want to thank Professor Raskin, Professor Denning, Professor Lian, Professor Soares, Professor Delano, Professor Baron, Barbara Egidi…I just want to thank everyone I met at Pace!

Could you tell me about your current job? What is it that you enjoy most? What’s the hardest thing you’ve encountered in your career?

Dan ShaoDan: I am the Deputy Director of Platform Operation Department in the Digital Development Center at CNPIEC now. My work is to lead the production team; all our content will be sold on our digital platform, which is called CNPeReading. CNPeReading has aggregated millions of digital content files, including magazines, journals, ebooks, audio, video, and all other digital materials. CNPeReading sells this content to libraries and institutional users directly, and will cover individuals in the near future. If anyone is interested in our platform, feel free to e-mail me (shaodan@cnpiec.com.cn).

I love the way everyone is connected in our daily job and people work together to solve problems and conquer challenges.

The hardest thing I have encountered in my career… hmm, I think it might be at my previous job at Open Road. I was a digital production editorial assistant when it turned into full-time position. But two months later, my manager left the company and they were not able to find someone to fill her position. I took over all her responsibility for half a year, creating ebooks, talking to production-related software providers, working with marketing and editorial teams, and managing interns. That was a really fast growing process for me, but the experience enriched me; I learned to manage people, arrange tasks, and communicate with people well. Over time, it made me more confident.

You worked for Open Road Media, which is a heavily digital company. Have you always been interested in the digital aspects of publishing? How did working there influence you?

Dan: Yes, I can always learn new things in digital publishing, which is why I’ll always love it. The experience with Open Road helped me to understand the trends, technologies, standards, and business models in digital publishing.

What are some digital trends that you’ve been noticing in the publishing industry, specifically those in your area of work?

Dan: From my point of view, mobile reading is absolutely the trend in China. You can see people reading on their mobile phones everywhere, especially on the subway. Last year publishers got billions of dollars in revenue from mobile reading. I believe this will be the trend, and the market has huge potential.

What would you tell students who are beginning to look for work in publishing? Were there any pieces of wisdom that you employed to help you in your search?

Dan: I would say use the network you have at developed at Pace. Recommendations from people in the industry help a lot. I really want to thank you, Professor Denning, for recommending me to Open Road.

Also, you will need one skill that others do not have, or others are not doing well as you do. Open Road still hired me as their consultant after I went back to China, because I know how to create interactive eBooks, which is a more comprehensive epub format.

How has your education at Pace and elsewhere affected you in your pursuit of a career in publishing? Have you always been interested in publishing?

Dan: Yes! I love publishing, and I love the way publishing affects our life and society.  I studied publishing during my undergraduate schooling, learned basic knowledge of the publishing industry, went to Pace after one year’s working experience as a proof editor, worked for Open Road for two years, and then came to CNPIEC. I am happy that I am always doing something digital, and I will continue my digital path all the way.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you think publishing is facing now?

Dan: Amazon is definitely one of the biggest challenges for publishers in America. In China, I would say the piracy, because there is still tons of free content online that a lot of people are downloading. It is still the biggest issue in the industry. Government, publishers, readers should all put forth effort to change the situation.

What advice do you have for students who aren’t sure about where they want to land in publishing?

Dan: Find internships and try different positions. I saw some interns work for Open Road and they figured out if they loved a certain job or not after trying different departments. We had an intern who worked in our production department first, then interned for the marketing team, and found herself liking the marketing position better.

What are some valuable lessons or skills that you’ve learned since starting work full-time?

Dan: Team work! I know everyone knows team work is essential, but I truly understand how important team work is in my work. Everyone in the team needs to communicate with each other to make the work process clear and efficient.

In China, the whole industry is quite different than it is in America. Every publisher claims they are going digital, and everyone does their own thing using their own standards. We got all kinds of original digital files from publishers, resulting in a lot of extra work for our production team. Our team did a lot of work together to deal with these files and build our own standards for both the original files and our e-products.  That’s all team work; no one can do his job by himself.

What are your thoughts on the current discussion of digital rights?

Dan: Digital rights are always the issue in the industry. Open Road had dealt with issue before, but I didn’t quite understand the judgement. I think the judgement was a misunderstanding and misreading. In my opinion Digital publishers owns the digital rights so long as they received permission from the authors.

 How do you think students ought to approach their brand new careers in publishing?

Dan: Be brave and see yourself as a blank slate to learn things in the tough and wonderful publishing world.  A publishing career is a good life.

 

 

 

Mengqi LiMengqi Li is the Digital Project Manager at Penguin Random House China and a May 2014 graduate of Pace’s MS in Publishing program. Mengqi is from China where she received her bachelor’s degree from Nanjing Normal University, majoring in Theatre, Television, and Films. During her time at Pace, she interned at Open Road Integrated Media and became a part-time editor for a year.

Professor Denning:  Hello, Mengqi. Could you tell me a little about the progression of your career since graduating from Pace? How has the adjustment been, from school to work?

Mengqi: Hi Prof. Denning, thank you for asking me to do this interview! I miss my Pace Publishing classmates a lot now that I am in China! When I graduated from Pace, I had already been working at Open Road Integrated Media as a part-time digital production editor for over 6 months. I was extremely fortunate last September. I had the chance to be the special authorized liaison for The First World Digital Conference (Beijing, 2014). I invited international guest speakers from the US, Spain, and Brazil. For example, Open Road CEO Jane Friedman and PublishNews CEO Carlo Carrenho came. After attending that conference as an interpreter for Open Road, I was recommended for Penguin Random House China and luckily got my current full-time job as a Digital Project Manager in Beijing.

The knowledge I learned at Pace helped me a lot in the real world. The publishing industry in China is different, from government policy to consumer behavior. Although I had hands-on experience in publishing, I still feel new to this industry and I am learning every day.

Please tell us about your experience at Pace studying for your MS in Publishing degree.

Mengqi: I wasn’t from a publishing-related major when I was accepted to Pace. I worked for a provincial TV station in China as a hostess, editor, and video maker. I knew that I wanted to change my field, so when I found the Pace Publishing program, I thought about Digital Publishing— “Ha! That would be interesting and still in the media area (this is totally not true for books!)”. My first semester at Pace was extremely hard. I didn’t know the NYTimes Bestseller authors and had no idea about Marketing Principles, Finance, or Electronic Publishing. My daydream about publishing was too naïve. Nevertheless, Pace Publishing has very good, kind, and professional teachers and amazing, talented students! I received encouragement from them and learned quickly from the well-prepared courses.

My experience at Pace taught me that publishing is a small industry, but reflects the changes in every aspect of modern society. To survive in the current tide, you have to think smart, work hard, and keep learning.

Could you tell me about your current job? What is it that you enjoy most? What’s the hardest thing you’ve encountered in your job?

Mengqi: My current job is Digital Project Manager at Penguin Random House China. I am handling digital-related projects and assisting my colleagues in providing digital solutions. The merging of Penguin and Random House finally completed in China, and 2015 marks the 80th anniversary of Penguin and its 10th year in China. So, I am doing some special cases for the celebration and branding.

Working at PRH China, I am able to communicate with PRH staffs around the world. Penguin is a very creative publishing house. I am intrigued by their amazing ideas every week! Our parent company Bertelsmann organizes seminars about the hot topics frequently within the group, so I feel even though I am in publishing, I can get to know other industries as well.

PRH is a foreign company in China. We can’t publish books independently due to censorship. We have to co-publish with a local publishing house. Feeling confined is hard, but on the other hand, it gives me opportunity to learn the reality in Beijing efficiently. China has quickly developed in the past 4 years and Beijing is a new home to me; I am still in the exploratory stage.

You interned for Open Road Media, which is a heavily digital company. Have you always been interested in the digital aspects of publishing? How did interning there/working there influence you?

Mengqi: Yes! I like digital publishing. I was interning in the digital production team. My primary responsibility was to assist in creating eBooks. I practiced my skills there and gained hands-on experience in digital publishing. Working as a part-time editor later gave me the opportunity to handle some titles independently and corrected my opinions about digital publishing. For example, I wrote my thesis about metadata, because I believed that data was power enough to lead the trend of publishing. However, with help from the metadata coordinator, I did research and read several papers/books about big data and metadata, and I realized the reality is much more complicated.

Working at Open Road was a precious experience for me. Although it was a temporary job, I learned how to be professional, strong, and enhance myself. Also, it was my honor to work with Jane Friedman. When I left Open Road, I got her hand-written recommendation letter. The words she wrote about me and the greetings from my colleagues encouraged me to pursue the career I dreamed of.

What are some digital trends that you’ve been noticing in the publishing industry, specifically those in your area of work?

Mengqi: I strongly feel that integrated media is the trend and the inevitable. Books are not only in the physical bookstores or online (such as Amazon, iBooks); they also appear on the FM mobile platforms. For instance, audio books are getting more and more popular in China. You can also find ebooks on airplanes or read on Uber (Uber X Kindle). They say people don’t read, but the demand for contents is increasing. TV shows and movies are hunting for good content. Mobile games are based on books. Digital publishing is no longer just digitalizing print books and creating databases. Publishing is expanding in different industries and you have to be more creative.

What would you tell students who are beginning to look for work in publishing? Were there any pieces of wisdom that you employed to help you in your search?

Mengqi: Keep your eyes on this blog! Networking is vital! I got the position in Open Road because of the Pace blog and the help from Dan (my classmate)! She passed my resume along to my former supervisor. All the opportunities I had at Pace—for example, being the interpreter for 2014 BEA US-China Rights section and other seminars—were from the benefits of networking. It helps you get to know people, make friends, and offers you the chance to see the wonderful world!

How has your education at Pace and elsewhere affected you in your pursuit of a career in publishing? Have you always been interested in publishing?

Mengqi: Making things fascinates me. I liked video making when I was in undergraduate. Coding (Prof. Lian’s class) and desktop publishing skills helped me find jobs in the digital publishing area. My background and experience assisted me in understanding today’s rich media phenomenon. The papers and homework I wrote in Pace Publishing taught me to think deeply. I am not the same as some classmates that liked to read from childhood, but the day I stepped into this program, I knew I would like to develop my future career path in this industry. Working in an office that has books and book-related products is wonderful!

What are some of the biggest challenges that you think publishing is facing now?

Mengqi: I think the impact of the Internet is a big challenge. Internet-based products are rising fast in China. Publishers have to compete with mobile platforms, find solutions to partner with new media, and keep eyes on their regular competitors. Woo, that is really hard.

What advice do you have for students who aren’t sure about where they want to land in publishing?

Mengqi: I would say keep learning and don’t miss any opportunity in this industry. Pace is a great resource. Try an internship first. Even if you don’t like or know the job, at least you have the chance to know the real world. Then, figuring out what you want to do won’t be a problem.

Do you see yourself continuing in your current field long-term?

Mengqi: Yes! I think there are plenty of things I could do and experiment with in this field. Technology is changing fast, but it’s fun! Books could have more functions and no limits to their physical format!

What are some valuable lessons or skills that you’ve learned since starting work full-time?

Mengqi: First, different countries and companies have diverse working environments and policies. Study them first! Second, be creative and always think outside the box. Last but not the least, no pain, no gain. All the efforts you made in the past will benefit you eventually.

What are your thoughts on the current discussion of digital rights?

Mengqi: In China, the legal system of digital rights is not fully operational. Parents worry that devices will harm children’s eyes, so not many publishers acquire digital rights on kids’ titles. The majority of people here like to read on mobile, and they are more intrigued by web articles. However, the rights in this area are still up for discussion. I feel digital rights are not only about eBooks; they are appearing more and more comprehensive. When you look at a book, eBook rights are just a start. You will have to think about video, audio, and other digital-related subsidiary rights. I am looking forward to seeing how this system will be established eventually.

How do you think students ought to approach their brand new careers in publishing?

Mengqi: Networking! Don’t be afraid of talking to people. I was extremely shy because I didn’t have the confidence in speaking English and I was lacking publishing knowledge. Thanks to our kind teachers and classmates, I started by making friends from 551 5th Ave to forcing myself to participate in different events. Finally, I realized people in publishing like to share their opinions and experiences, and they want to know you as well! It is fun!!!

Alumni in the Spotlight

Alumni in the SpotlightRakesh Suresh is a 2012 graduate from the MS in Publishing program. He is currently employed with HCL’s Media Services vertical as an Assistant Manager. Rakesh’s role is to develop and offer focused solutions for media, publishing, and entertainment companies across the globe. His focus and desire is to take the conventional publishing world to the next level.

 

 

Professor Denning: What have you been up to since graduating from the program in 2012?

Rakesh: It’s been a great journey. I returned back to India after my graduation with a vision to take India’s publishing service sector to the next level. However, it was a little difficult to convince Indian executives to change and expand their organization’s portfolio (typical example of an innovator’s dilemma). So, I did a little introspective reflection and changed my game plan a bit. I joined Newgen Knowledgeworks as an Operations Manager, where my role was to handle a business worth about $1 million a year. As handling day-to-day operations is not my cup of tea, I had a very brief stint over there. I then joined HCL Technologies as a Presales Consultant where my role is to provide media/publishing related solutions (from both IT and business perspectives) to organizations across the globe.

Professor Denning: How do you think the program helped you towards your career, however unconventional?

Rakesh: This program changed my perspective on publishing altogether. If we limit the term ‘publishing’ to just books and magazines, we are simply missing the bigger picture here. The size of the pie is always greater than what we think! My humble opinion is, publishing isn’t limited to big corporate houses anymore. Publishing defines the dissemination of content, and it can be carried out by anyone in the world. Even a layman, who is publishing his content/views on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or a blog is a publisher today.

On that note, this program helped me to understand industry trends and the impact of the west coast (i.e. technology companies like Facebook, Twitter, Scribd, etc.) on the east coast (i.e. conventional publishing industry).

Rakesh_Suresh (2)Professor Denning: Seeing as you work in the technical end of publishing, what do you think is the up and coming trend in regards to digitization?

Rakesh: There are so many new developments: big data analytics (predictive marketing), semantic publishing, localized content owing to higher internet penetration in developing countries, XHTML or digital-first workflow, affordable CMS, CRM and DRM, customized content in e-learning and magazine industries, dynamic newsstand, technologies enabling content discoverability, value added to services through QR codes, augmented reality, near-field communication (NFC) etc., consolidation of niche products with bigger players e.g. Adobe CQ5, Adobe Experience Manager etc., the dominance of Google and Amazon in terms of advertising/display ads, content aggregation, device and distribution channels.  These are just a few trends that I can think of immediately.

The others, which are hugely discussed in almost all content related conferences, are apps, responsive websites, social media content aggregation and analytics.  I think most of the organizations have to get a better grip on these disruptive technologies.

Professor Denning: When did you discover that this path was the right path for you?

Rakesh: I did my Bachelors of Engineering in printing technology. During my undergraduate years, I felt that print books’ market share was slowly dying and hence I was curious about the role of technology in publishing. At that time, I happened to meet India’s national newspaper editor-in-chief and he advised me to pursue my career in new media, which was nascent and a hot topic seven years back. Hence, my game plan was to know/understand hardcore software development before I ventured myself into the business aspect of publishing.

The Publishing program really helped me understand the intricacies of the publishing business. My internship with Hachette Book Group and the many guest lectures I heard steered me in the right direction and paved the way for my growth.

Professor Denning: What advice do you have for other students who want to stray away from the traditional publishing path?

Rakesh: My input (not advice) to the future achievers/aspirants is not to negate the impact of technology in our daily lives. As I mentioned earlier, publishing isn’t limited to books and magazines. It’s all about content, content, and content. Content is and will be in ‘bits’ going forward! If you can have a strong foundation in technology and business, success is not far away.

The world is in dire need of content experts who not only understand the business but also enable organizations to reach their audiences at the right time and the right place through the right channel.

HCL-TechnologiesProfessor Denning: What did you write your thesis on? And what advice do you have for those about to write their thesis?

Rakesh: My thesis was entitled ‘Searching for the Perfect Methods to Forecast Recurring Demand in Trade and Academic Publishing Supply Chain.’ I think the industry is still in search of a perfect method and, I think it will always be a combination of few methods.

My advice to students: stay focused on what you are passionate about. It is great if you can challenge the status quo. Never hesitate to talk to professors about your topic and objective. In my case, they were so kind and helped me to connect with industry people like Thomas Di Mascio, Linda Bathgate, and Jason Epstein, who not only gave clarity on the topic but also shared valuable industry insights.

Professor Denning: How important is it to network, even on the digital side of publishing?

Rakesh: It helps us to understand:

  • The current reality of the industry, and test the waters before you make a decision about your career
  • Your skill gaps or your areas that need improvement
  • Redefine your game plan/strategies at the right time
  • Envision the future of the industry/business units
  • Understand how the micro-level implementation impacts the macro-level objective
  • Thinking on our own feet – It gives an opportunity to examine our own mental models
  • Learn how to land in a job, if you are interested.

Professor Denning: What kind of skills do you need to enter your line of work?

Rakesh: A blend of IT and business knowledge. Analytical thinking. A love for new technologies and an interest to learn new things around the clock. More importantly, be willing to agree that the known is a little drop, the unknown is an ocean.

Professor Denning: Considering you have a unique view of the industry, what is something important for our students to know about publishing that they may not know otherwise?

Rakesh: Most of the processes are getting automated, and they are challenging and demanding (both in terms of development and usability). Several small software applications created with a well-defined focus can bring a paradigm shift to the organization. For example: subscription and distribution of eBooks, implementation of workflow management software, a seamless editorial management system, etc.—these not only change an organization’s capability matrix but also test employees’ skills and talent.

Every organization is looking out for innovative ways to monetize its content, for which technology is acting as their sole partner. To put it in a nutshell, publishing companies are becoming more of a content service provider backed by technology.

Publishing is evolving into a newer form, which embraces faster, personalized, user-generated content, new ways of digital storytelling and content sharing etc., and seamless integration with all sorts of devices.

Professor Denning: Where do you see the publishing industry headed in the next 5, 10, 15 years?

Rakesh: I wish I could!! It is really difficult to predict the future of the publishing industry over the long term at this juncture. That said, we can be sure of one thing: publishing is going to be more dynamic than ever before.

Technology is playing a key role in defining an organization’s strategy and the rate at which it should grow. Every aspect of publishing like format definition, distribution, editing, production, monetizing the backlist, the role of print and eBooks, etc. is changing faster than we ever dreamt of. It is an optimistic sign, and I personally envision many innovative business models evolving by collaborating with technology companies in the imminent future.

Publishing companies will have their own indigenous product development and R&D team, which will bring out innovative deliverables in conjunction with the latest technologies in real time. For example, recent research indicates that Augmented Reality (AR) apps currently generate $300 million in revenue. These apps could potentially earn $5.2 billion by 2017. In terms of print, it is going to be specialty products that can support smelling, tasting, augment reality, and offer innovative packaging to name a few. To sum it up, the focus would usher in a strategy fueled by technology, innovation, global markets, and strong ties with end users.

Thank you, Rakesh!

Alumni in the Spotlight- July 2013

Dior Vargas is a 26 year old Latina activist who works full time as a Production Manager at Barnes & Noble/NOOK Media. She is a steering committee member of the New York Chapter of National Women’s Liberation. Dior is also a board member at the Third Wave Foundation. In 2012, she organized the first Feminist General Assembly in New York City with Women Occupying Wall Street.  She has interned for The Feminist Press and for Gloria Feldt, former CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  She has a B.A. in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College and an M.S. in Publishing from Pace University.  Dior is a native New Yorker and currently lives in Brooklyn.

 

Prof. Denning:  Hi Dior and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  It has been two years since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2011.  Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?

Dior:  It’s been quite busy since I graduated from Pace. I was already working at Random House at the time but only as a temp. Later that year (2011) I was offered a full time job as a eBook Production Assistant Manager. I gladly accepted and worked on many interesting books such as American Grown by Michelle Obama and Beyond Outrage by Robert R. Reich.

Then in March 2013, I started a new position as a Production Manager of International Digital Operations at Barnes & Noble/NOOK Media. It has been extremely busy and intense since I started working here but it’s great and I have learned so much in a short amount of time!

Other than my career in publishing, I have been strengthening my activist work. I became a board member of an amazing organization and became more involved in my passion which is feminism.

Prof. Denning:  As a Production Manager for International Digital Operations at Barnes & Noble, what does your job entail?  How do you interact with the other members of this international bookselling company? 

Dior: I work with the Nook Digital Newsstand so I work with publishers around the globe so we can get their magazines and newspapers on the Nook platform. Then I manage production of those publications. I talk with publishers over the phone and through email. It gets a bit challenging at times but overall it’s a great learning experience.

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

Dior: My favorite parts are learning about the culture of the publishers that I work with. Also seeing the similarities and differences between U.S. and foreign publications.

Prof Denning: Tell us a bit about new technical developments and initiatives that Barnes & Noble has taken in recent years?  Will they be implementing anything new? 

Dior: From my work in the NOOK newsstand, I can say that Barnes & Noble has really paved the way for reading digital magazines and newspapers. You get the magazines before it even goes on sale in print. We also have catalogues where you can shop directly from them. It’s a great interactive experience. In addition, we are growing our international newsstand where you can get magazines and newspapers from around the world.

Prof Denning:  During your time at Random House, you worked as an eBook Production Assistant Manager.  What was the transition into the arena of international digital operations like after spending time in eBook productions?

Dior: Going from books which I focused on during my years at Pace to magazines which I didn’t have a background on was a bit daunting. I don’t look at magazines and newspapers the same way I did before. Once you’re finished on production for a book there are not many times where you have to go back and continue work on the book. With magazines and newspapers it is an ongoing process that involves daily involvement.  Also, working with publishers from multiple countries is challenging but extremely rewarding.

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give to a young publishing professional looking for their first “real” job?

Dior: I would tell them to learn as much as they can and make connections with people in the business. My position now is based not only on hard work but on the people I met along the way. Also, you need to be passionate. This goes for any industry. If you have passion and drive for what you do then that’s about 50% of the work!

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

Dior: There were many times when people would mention terms like wholesale model versus agency model and I knew exactly what they were talking about. It gave me the confidence and the knowledge to perform better at my jobs. I think having an educational background in this industry helps no matter what people might say otherwise. It gives you an edge and it sets you apart from other candidates. It shows how invested you are in this industry.

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 “The Feminist Press, 1970-Present: Telling a Different Story?”

Dior: I would tell them to seriously think about what they would enjoy writing about. It’s a long arduous process so you might as well have fun while working on it! The important points that I learned from my own thesis was that no matter what publishing is still alive and running. It might take different turns but people are still interested in reading and learning more. It might be a different format but it’s still the same business: ensuring that your customers have something to read and immerse themselves in. Publishing is a daily part of people’s lives. The industry will adapt to what it needs to so it can keep on going.

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give students entering the field do to set themselves apart from other job applicants?  What specific details should they include on their resumes or in an interview?

Dior: I think students entering the field should be open to the changing landscape of publishing. They should show that they are adapting to the changes and that being part of digital is something that they’re not afraid of. Having knowledge in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and other programs that work with HTML, XML is extremely valuable and important.

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

Dior: I wasn’t always interested in the publishing business. I loved writing and reading but in terms of the business aspect I didn’t spend too much time on it. Then I became an editorial intern for Meridians, an interdisciplinary journal at Smith College about race, feminism, and transnationalism. That was what changed things for me. I learned more about what was involved when publishing a journal and I knew that I wanted to know more about it. I wanted to be part of what educates people, what gives people a break from their day to day lives, and what makes people rethink the world they live in.

Prof. Denning:  You have held many different internship positions, including a Social Media internship at Endangered Bodies, a PR, Marketing and Social Media internship at Gloria Feldt, and an Editorial and Developmental internship at the Feminist Press.  What have you learned from these positions and what advice would you give to students looking for or currently in internships?

Dior: I have learned so much from my past internships. I was able to work and develop skills on things that I knew would help me in the long run. These internships have given me connections that I am certain will last me for a lifetime. I’ve learned that content is important but also how you present it is important as well. You need to be able to market your brand, product, whatever it is that you’re selling. I’ve learned about helpful programs and tips to make the work of social media a lot easier. You have to put yourself in the mindset of the consumer. What would garner their attention? I think you have to keep that in mind when you’re in media in general. I think that students should definitely take advantage of internships to develop their skills and try out things that they otherwise wouldn’t. It can lead to many open doors and something that you didn’t think you’d love. Find a mentor within these internships. I’ve gained so much from mine. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are people out there who are willing to help you navigate your career.

Prof Denning:  What do you think the future holds for companies like Barnes & Noble, and their competitors? What should graduates expect as they enter digital media and the publishing world?

Dior: I think that content is the most important part about publishing. It doesn’t matter what format it’s in. There will always be a demand for things to read. Digital media is challenging but very rewarding so don’t worry. Just make sure you’re on your toes for the next big development!

Prof: Denning:  What do you think the biggest trends in magazine publishing are today?  What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?

Dior: I think that publishers have to remember that reading is no longer a static experience. It needs to be interactive. Having an app that connected to the publication gives more value and leverages its importance and worth.

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?

Dior: Just hang in there. You might think that things are hard in this industry but with the passion and investment in your education it will work out in the end.

 

Thank you Dior for your insightful and informative interview!

Alumni in the Spotlight: June 2013

Alum_Spotlight3Don Schmidt graduated from Pace University’s MS in Publishing program in 2012 and currently works as the Publishing Industry Pundit and Blogger at The Book Kahuna where he writes about various facets of publishing, from electronic and digital developments to the traditional, print format. Schmidt was previously the Manager of Production and Manufacturing at ABC-CLIO for over 8 years, a history reference publisher that specializes in school educational materials.  Other companies he has worked for include Skootersdad Publishing Services, Interweave Press, Perseus Books Group, Random House, Thieme Medical, McGraw-Hill, Van Nostrand-Reinhold, Springer-Verlag, Gordon & Breach, Inc., and Macmillan Publishing, Inc.   Schmidt has also guest lectured on the topic of publishing at the Denver Publishing Institute at University of Denver, PubWest Conferences in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.

 

Prof. Denning:  Hi Don and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.   It has a year 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?

Don: Hi Professor Denning.  Thank you for asking me to be part of the Alumni in a Spotlight series.  I haven’t been an alumnus very long, but let me see if I can fill you in on what has been happening since May of 2012.

I started the blog while I was still working on my degree at Pace.  First, I thought about using my own name, but that seemed to be something that would not make a great brand.  I just happened to see something while I was surfing the web on a book called “Kahuna”.  Lightning struck, and I thought The Book Kahuna!  A great play on words, and something that sticks with you after you have had a time to reflect.  In November, I started to blog on a regular basis.  I also started to expand my LinkedIn connections and joined a multitude of publishing related groups.  I knew this would be a great way to start discussions and get traffic flowing to my blog-site.

In February, 2013, I was laid off from my position at ABC-CLIO after almost 9 years as Production Manager.  I thought about sugar-coating this part for the write-up, but this is publishing, and I don’t want to give any of my MS in Publishing classmates and fellow alums a false sense of security.  Click here to read a post from The Book Kahuna blog.

Also, it could not have come at a better time.  I was ready for a change, and my degree work at Pace had prepared me for the demands of working with all types of Social Media to get my word out.  I’m blogging, networking, and building the next phase of my career which will be something that I structure on my terms.  I would also love to teach now that I have my degree in my career field.  My lecture at Denver University whetted my appetite for that aspect of career change as well.  Consulting gigs would be welcomed enthusiastically though…

Prof. Denning:  What does your job as the Publishing Industry Pundit and Blogger at The Book Kahuna entail?  What made you want to create this blog?

Don:   I am a fervent devotee of Brendon Burchard and Robert Skrob.  The way to enhance publishing is by marketing information to all of the people who need to be in the know.  The blog is a sales portal to the next phase of The Book Kahuna as a corporate structure.  I have the rights to the domain www.thebookkahuna.com, and I am launching products that will help to fill information voids that currently exist in the mainstream publishing environment.  The WordPress blog will eventually cease, and all updates and future blog-posts will go through the .com site.

There will be subscription levels to be part of the information network, and the information will be disseminated as webinars, podcasts, videos, workbooks and DVD sets.  There will be coaching and consulting in groups and one-on-one sessions as well.  We’ve used Camtasia software and combined the MP3 recording that I made of my lecture at the Denver Publishing Institute, with the animated Powerpoint presentation that was the basis for the entire lecture.  This is one of the first products that will be available through the sales portal.  I’ve recently re-edited and self-published my Pace Master’s Thesis as an e-book available for Kindle download and this will be another product on the portal sometime in the future.  Click here to read Schmidt’s Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing!

As part of this process I have rejoined CIPA (Colorado Independent Publishers Association) because many of the ideas in the products are potentially relevant for self-publishers as well.  I was elected to the Board of Directors of CIPA in early May, 2013, and this position along with my Board of Directors position with PubWest will give me ample opportunities to craft products that will fill information niches within the industry as a whole.

Prof Denning:  What are some of your favorite parts of being the “blog world,” as this area has become increasingly important in publishing?

Don:  I use my blogging as a way to get visibility.  I took a good many creative writing courses when I was an undergrad at SUNY Potsdam, and I have never forgotten my love for writing.  There is always an edge and humor in my blogging.  I try to integrate YouTube music videos and commercials for entertainment, but also because they connect with the story I have told or written about in the previous paragraphs.  Also, the camaraderie in the blog world is great.  I have been asked to guest blog for one of my fellow CIPA members, and I have a request for Michael Weinstein, the Production Director for Teachers College Press and a Pace MS in Publishing Advisory Board member, to do a guest blog post on my blog at some time in the future.  Graciously, Michael has agreed and I am looking forward to working out the details with him!

Writing and blogging are forms of artwork.  Instead of brush and canvas, the blogger is painting pictures to drive emotions with words, sentences and paragraphs.  All of my posts have a connection to books, but not all of my posts are about the book industry.  Two of the posts I am most proud of have to do with a book that I worked on when I was at Perseus Books Group (Darnton: Divided We Stand), and the other is a Memorial Day tribute to my father that I wrote last week:

1. http://thebookkahuna.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/books-with-impact-divided-we-stand/

2. http://thebookkahuna.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/reflections-on-memorial-day-a-personal-tribute/

Prof Denning:  Tell us a bit about your position as Manager of Production and Manufacturing at ABC-CLIO? Did you notice that this reference publisher was taking any steps into the digital area of publishing?

Don:   I joined ABC-CLIO in 2004 as Production Manager.  Over the course of the next 8 + years, I took a Production/Manufacturing department that would regularly slip pub dates by 120 days and turned it into a department that met publication goals on time and at or under budget, with the quality being a major consideration at all times.  In 2008, ABC-CLIO purchased the licensing rights to publish Greenwood/Praeger/Libraries Unlimited and with a further acquisition, Linworth Press books.  We went from a publisher that produced sixty to seventy titles a year in 2008, to one that produced 542 titles in 2009.

I was tasked with making this integration work successfully.  We had to switch from a domestic-based freelance model for our production functions, to an offshore “Total Concept” model.  We did this with very aggressive negotiations for our prepress and printing costs.  Over the course of the next 3 years, my department continually met or surpassed the goals that were set in terms of on-time publication, simultaneous print and e-book publication, and continued negotiations to keep costs within a framework that was beneficial to the corporate structure and fair to our vendors overall.

From 2005-2011, I spearheaded a team that produced the largest single project in the history of ABC-CLIO, The World History Encyclopedia.  This title had been in development for 8 years and travelled through the production process in waves.  This set comprised 21 volumes, 4000 articles, and four million words.  It published in March, 2011 as a print title and simultaneously as an e-product.  We pulled this set together without the aid of a database to structure all the articles through the process as they were finalized, only Excel spreadsheets were used (a database would have been oh so nice for this project!).  As the old commercial said, “We did things the “Old Fashion” way, we earned it.”

In terms of e-books and digital, even before the Greenwood integration, ABC-CLIO was producing an e-book of every print book published.  Once we integrated and went with the offshore model, we were having our vendors layout the books using HTML based design programs and this made the conversion process much more streamlined.  At the end of 2010 our e-books became simultaneous publications with our print titles.  By 2011, the e-books were hitting our sales portal weeks before the print publications would hit the warehouse.  Also, in 2010-11, we were one of 5% of publishers that had close to 50% of titles, backlist and frontlist, in the Amazon portal for Kindle download.

We also had 20-40K titles set up for POD, and we were continually getting backlist titles into the program at many of the different POD distributors we were using.

The Production/Manufacturing team accomplished all of this under my tutelage, but unfortunately, I had no input on the content we produced or how that content was to be sold or distributed.  Thus the change in work venues… it’s a story told many times in this industry, and will be told many times in the future as well.  To quote the phrase, “it’s not personal; it’s just the publishing business.”

Prof. Denning:  How does new technology and social media impacted your view of the publishing industry and what do you think will develop from its growing presence?

Don:   In terms of what I see in the industry today, publishers need to adapt or die.  If you are not pushing the envelopeDSchmidt of Social Media to get the word out about your products (blogging, Tweeting, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube) you are not utilizing the tools that could be putting dollars into the company coffers.  I also see Social Media as a two-way street.  If you are not getting feedback from your customers and utilizing that feedback into workable process and content changes, then you are also heading in the same direction that the Brontosaurus trekked many millennia ago.  I have always been someone who thinks that technology is our friend.  It can also come back to bite you if you do not infuse enough capital expenditures to maintain a viable presence on the playing field.

Self-publishing is going to be big, since now anyone can write a book and have it published as an e-book for very little out-of-pocket costs.  Also, a self-publisher can get a print version into the marketplace by working with a Lightning Source or any POD company that can deliver product overnight.  Where the rubber meets the road is the ability to Market the book into the mainstream, and that is where traditional publishing houses have the inside track.

Prof. Denning:  Were you always interested in publishing or did you initially see yourself working in a different industry?

Don:  Sorry to disappoint on this question, but I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I still don’t!  I love publishing, and cannot see myself in any other industry.  I followed in the footsteps of many people who “fell into” publishing as the accidental career.  My cousin once told me, “hey, isn’t it great that you followed in your dad’s footsteps and went into the media?”  Now, my dad was a film editor for NBC in Rockefeller Center for 30 years, but this question was posed to me six years into my publishing career.  I never gave it a thought until that time, but maybe my DNA was programmed to be in publishing, and I just never had a conscious knowledge of it.

Prof Denning:  Many students are unsure of which area of publishing they would like to begin careers in. What made you choose the production side of publishing when you first began working in this industry?

Don:  In a word, LUNCHES.  While working at the Macmillan College Division in the mid-1980s, I was the editorial assistant who prepared reprint corrections for our manufacturing team, and also handled paying the permissions fees for copyrighted material used in the works we were producing.  One day I noticed that one of the print salesmen was in the office.  Later that day I noticed that all the people in manufacturing were nowhere to be found.  It was at this time that Vendor Lunches held a strange fascination f or this entry level newbie to the publishing industry.

Now, I know lunches are no way to plan and structure your career, but in this case, it put me on the path that I was extremely successful following.  I switched over to Production/Manufacturing, and after many, many lunches, I know this was the correct way for me to go.  All kidding aside, once I made the transition I was able to utilize many talents that production/manufacturing people must have to be successful.  Strong organizational skills, negotiation skills, ability to prioritize, affinity for new technology, troubleshooting, the ability to keep one’s head while all around you are losing theirs and flexibility in thoughts and actions are paramount requirements in the production/manufacturing role.  My advice to my Pace brethren, choose your path, no matter how you get to it, but do it with everything you have.  Pour your heart and soul into it, because as Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% Inspiration, and 99% Perspiration!” Success can be substituted for genius in the preceding quote.

Prof. Denning:  Please tell me a bit about how your educational experience at Pace—in particular, why did you go back to get your degree after working in the industry?  What did you see as the benefits of getting an advanced degree in publishing?

Don:   I started taking courses back in the early 1990s.  I took a few courses at NYU, but never followed through to get my publishing certificate.  In looking at the book publishing industry in 2008 and 2009, I noticed that the contraction of companies and mergers were diminishing the number of possible avenues for career opportunity and advancement.  After working close to 30 years in the publishing industry, I speculated that even a veteran needs to take actions to set themselves apart.  Also, I wanted to challenge myself and see how I would do academically in this environment, while handling a full-time workload that was a handful on its own.  At this point, I would like to say that my classmates and my professors were top-notch and pushed me to the limit at all times.  Professors David Hetherington, Dave Delano, Melissa Rosati, Kathy Sandler, Manuela Soares, Jodylynn Bachiman, Veronica Wilson, and Elena Mauer were all experts who tested and challenged me throughout the process and I thank them all.  I would recommend this experience for anyone who wants to get a first look at publishing, or a grizzled veteran like myself who needed an upgrade of skills to stay competitive in this ever-changing business.

Prof. Denning:  You completed your degree completely online.  Can you tell us a bit about that experience?

Don:  Using technology to learn about new technology, that’s how I like to view my online experience.  There was one project that completely encapsulates this viewpoint.  In “Modern Tech” with Professor Jodylynn Bachiman, the complete class was tasked with working together as a team to put together our final project.  We had to build an archive for the fictitious French Institute of Technology that incorporated sharing of content materials between three separate campus complexes (Denver, Montreal and Washington, D.C.).  I was co-project manager with classmate Daye Brake being the other project manager.  Now Daye lives in Florida, and I live in Colorado, and the rest of the team lived in all geographic regions of the US.  We scheduled Skype meetings, taking into account various time zone differences, with the various functionaries of the team, and had weekly updates and teleconference meetings to make sure that the project stayed on schedule to final completion.  This is all relative to how a modern publishing operation works.  Our completed project was a self-narrated PowerPoint presentation that resides in the cloud to this day.  Click here to view the project.

I hope all my classmates will forgive me for plugging this project, but what we accomplished in six weeks is still amazing to me (my voice is the first voice you hear in the presentation).  Madame Dubois (Professor Bachiman) liked our approach to finalizing this project, and our grades reflected a successful team effort.

One drawback, I have never met any of my professors, except Dave Delano who was my print rep for RR Donnelley when I was working for Random House in NY.  It would be great if there could be a reception before graduation day for online students in the MS in Publishing Program and professors to meet and introduce themselves.

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 “Print Books:  Surviving and Thriving During the Electronic Revolution?”

Don:  Choose a topic that interests you and research, research, research.  Did I mention you need to do research?  I wanted to take the e-book revolution and see avenues that would lead to what we are currently seeing.  The sale of e-books is slowing down.  At the PubWest Conference in Keystone last October, Len Vlahos of BISG (Book Industry Study Group) showed that e-book sales industry-wide had hit a plateau and had leveled out from their meteoric rise in previous years.  He could not explain exactly whether this was a blip in the history of e-books and they would begin to climb steadily from this point, whether this was a seasonal drop off, or if this was a trend that would continue into the immediate future and possibly beyond.

My paper dealt with format deliverables being dictated by the consumer.  All formats should be available for purchase, so that the consumer will decide the final outcome.  With the advent of new technologies in printing, short-run, high-quality, cost effective books can now be quickly printed, bound and shipped faster than ever before.  I think the sale of tablets outpacing the sale of dedicated e-readers is a further harbinger that e-books will be another format that produces sales, but is not going to be replacing print as the dominant format for consumers to the massive degrees that were projected 1 and 2 years ago.

Prof. Denning:  Guest lecturers are an important part of many of our courses in the Publishing program. Can you share with us some of the topics of your lectures at the Denver Publishing Institute at University of Denver and PubWest Conferences?

Don:   I did some homework and noticed that the DPI (Denver Publishing Institute) did not have a dedicated Production/Manufacturing professional giving the overview on this very important area of product delivery.  I am all about giving back, so I pitched myself to Joyce Meskis, Jill Smith and Amy Hall, the executives running the DPI Summer Session.  I must have done a great job convincing them as I ended up giving a one hour and fifteen minute Powerpoint presentation on DAM and CMS systems to get manuscript through the process to bound book.  I mapped the process from start to finish.  I had schematics showing that the format delivery at the end was only dependent on the conversion process, and since we started with an HTML layout program, we could funnel the project into any format we wanted in a relatively easy and time-effective process.  I then did a comparison of a domestic based freelance system, in comparison to a “Total Concept” offshore process that we morphed into under my supervision at CLIO.

Prof: Denning:  What do you think are the biggest trends in book and eBook publishing today?  What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?

Don:   I just wrote a blog piece on a subject that is controversial in nature, but seems to be occurring as publishers try to save dollars and cut costs.  The experienced elder statesmen, who previously were the mentors for the new generations of publishing professionals, are being weeded out since their salary levels (and healthcare costs) are much higher than someone 25-35 years old.  I think this brain-drain will have repercussions throughout the publishing industry if the trend does not abate.  Companies need to balance future cost considerations based on not having the experience levels necessary to drive a publishing program to higher profits.  Many sales people at printers and prepress houses have confided that they are spending more and more time teaching aspects of the publishing process to their client’s staffs.  This does not bode well for a healthy handoff of responsibilities going forward.

As the Nook fades into an App that Microsoft updates, I see Barnes & Noble staying around as the national bookstore that most of us use for print reading, but as Oren Teicher confided to me when I interviewed the CEO of the American Booksellers Association in 2011, independent book stores are filling a niche within their communities and will not give ground to any national company or entity.  Stores like The Tattered Cover here in Denver and The King’s English in Salt Lake City will be the beacons for community centered bookstores going forward into the future.  Independent bookstores saw an increase in sales of 12% in 2012.

Tablets will continue their assault on the dedicated e-readers, with the latter falling farther and farther behind in sales.  This increase in tablets in the marketplace will have consumers splitting their attention from e-books to everything else you can do with a tablet (I have the MLB package on my iPad and watched the Yankee/Red Sox game tonight!)  The trend in declining e-book sales will continue, but since print books are a format that is more of an impulse purchase while browsing at a Barnes & Noble or an independent bookstore, print book sales will remain at a plateau of sales for the foreseeable future.  Print on demand will be a viable alternative to e-books, and inkjet printing will begin to reduce the cost of larger printruns once companies have paid off the capital expenditures to install these new, high-quality printers.  As long as the warehousing costs can be kept at a very low level, the savings incorporated into a publishing program by using POD, inkjet, and web-press technology may well mean a modest resurgence in revenue streams from print products.  E-books will be part of the overall symbiotic marketing strategy that draws revenue from all format types.

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?

Don:   The first thing I would tell my Pace brethren:

  1.  Be prepared for the unexpected.  Technology and the industry itself are changing what we do and how we do it, but embrace the change and go along for the ride.

And then these come to mind as well:

  1. It’s part of the process, but getting laid-off happens in this industry.  Don’t be afraid when and if it happens.  Being in this program puts you in an entirely different realm and gives you a leg up on those who are in this business without the academic credentials.
  2. Seek out mentors.  The experience that they can impart will supplement everything you have learned from your professors at Pace.
  3. Have Fun.  Sometimes this business gets very close and stifling, but it is a fun endeavor and there are many incredible people out there in publishing-land.
  4. Do not be afraid to raise a dissenting voice at times.  As I always say, people who follow the herd only end up cleaning their shoes.
  5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail.  It isn’t called WD-40 because it worked the first time!  We learn from our mistakes, and they leave lasting and indelible stories for the future.  Use your stories to teach the next generations coming into this industry.

 

 Thank you Don for your insightful and informative interview!

Alumni in the Spotlight- May

Hannah Bennett is the Production and Distribution Associate at RosettaBooks, and a recent graduate of the MS in Publishing Program at Pace. Hannah hails from North Carolina, where she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an undergrad. Since moving to the city, she has worked with as an intern at Tor Books and as the Blog Editor for the NYC Chapter of The Women’s National Book Association, and as the Student Assistant in the Pace publishing office.

 

Prof. Denning:  Hi Hannah and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  It has been five months since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2012.  Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?

Hannah: Thank you for asking me to do this interview! I’m still relatively new to the industry, but I’ll try to give you my perspective as a recent grad, and I hope it will be helpful! I was extremely fortunate when I graduated, in that I got a job right away at RosettaBooks, a leading digital-only trade publisher. I began working with Rosetta as a Production Intern during my last semester at Pace. I found that position through this very blog, actually. When the semester ended, they offered me a full-time position with the company as a Production and Distribution Associate. The job is challenging and has taught me an incredible amount about digital publishing, which I think is vital in today’s industry.

Prof. Denning:  What does your job as a Production and Distribution Associate at RosettaBooks entail?  How do you interact and work with the other members of this worldwide eBook publisher?

Hannah: I’m basically a project manager for titles as they go through the production process. I coordinate with digitizers, proofreaders, and clients as the books move through each stage of production, keeping up with multiple projects at any one time. Another large part of my job is quality assurance of the ebooks, as each title goes through several rounds of error checking before publication. I’ve gotten pretty good at finding backwards apostrophes, let me tell you. I also assist with distribution to the major retailers, and with other odds and ends—everything from creating print-on-demand PDFs to training freelance proofreaders to offering feedback on cover designs.

As with any small company, there’s a range in the work that I do every day. Since the company is so collaborative, I also get to learn a lot about what the other departments are doing and how they function. Our rights and marketing teams send out regular reports on what they’ve accomplished (always impressive!), and they are always open to our ideas and feedback. That’s one of the things that drew me to working with Rosetta—knowing that I would get to learn about the entire process of ebook publication.

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

Hannah: By far, my favorite part of my job is the people I work with. I get to work with these brilliant, forward-thinking people who are invested in the expanding possibilities of the ebook industry. Not to mention, they are just excellent people to be around every day—supportive and helpful and fun. And sometimes they bring in snacks. J

I’ve also enjoyed the occasional editorial opportunities that I’ve had at Rosetta. For instance, I recently got to help with the creation of our new compilation of Kurt Vonnegut speeches, called If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

It’s exciting to be in on something from the ground up, working on the manuscripts and ebooks, watching the marketing and PR plans blossom. I love watching something that I’ve had a hand in become a success (or, in the case of production, just become a clean, finished product).

Also, now that it’s spring, it is certainly a perk to work right next to Central Park!

 

Prof Denning:  Tell us a bit about Rosetta Books and some of the initiatives they have taken in response to new technological developments. 

Hannah: RosettaBooks’ main business is the digital publication of backlist titles with strong, ongoing sales potential. A lot of older books are still under copyright, but their ebook rights are available because their contracts were drawn up before ebooks existed. For instance, Rosetta has acquired the ebook rights to classics like Brave New World, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Slaughterhouse-Five, as well as bestsellers like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We also publish some amazing collections, such as our Winston Churchill collection and our Arthur C. Clarke collection. We do publish some new titles, often in collaboration with clients, but the core of our business is in the backlist.

Rosetta is a small and flexible company, and this allows us to take initiatives that are sometimes experimental. For example, our CEO evaluates innovative ways to sell ebooks, as special sales avenues become available that don’t rely on the traditional distribution routes. Our marketing department evaluates new tools for web marketing, experimenting with contests, videos, and different campaign strategies. The company is committed to being on the cutting edge of the industry, which is one of the most exciting things about working there.

Prof. Denning:  How does new technology and social media fit into/impact your professional role?

Hannah: The company’s social media is primarily the domain of the marketing team, and I haven’t had a direct hand in it. As anyone who follows me on Twitter can attest, social media is not my personal forte (I guess it helps if you actually, well, tweet sometimes). But I think it’s clear to everyone in the industry that social media has changed the book marketing game, allowing for more interaction with our customers. Rosetta uses Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, and we’ve seen a lot of positive feedback about our books and beloved authors on these sites. Social media allows us to reach out to our audience at relatively low cost, and to gauge what our readers want most.

As for ebook technology, of course, this impacts me every day. An important aspect of my job is making sure that our books look good across the different e-reading devices, all of which have different screen sizes, capabilities, and limitations. Knowing HTML and CSS has been very valuable, but I still have so much to learn. My coworkers have been a big help in that regard.

Prof Denning:  What have you learned from your experience as a former Editorial Intern at Tor Books and as the Blog Editor for the Women’s National Book Association?   What was the transition from Editorial Intern to Production and Distribution Associate like?  What advice would you give to a young publishing professional looking for their first “real” job?

Hannah: I think the most important thing to say is that the skills I developed in each of these roles have assisted me in later positions. I absolutely loved working at Tor Books (not only because I am a SFF genre girl who had access to all the free fantasy novels I could carry). The position allowed me to get some basic editorial experience and an understanding of the submissions and acquisitions process. As the Blog Editor for the WNBA, I had to stay abreast of current industry news and events, and I also learned a lot about the challenges of creating a successful online presence. Through both of these positions, I got to meet many extraordinary people, helping me to build that network of contacts that is so vital in this small industry. While I’m now in a digital production role, I use the skills I developed in both of these positions in my daily work.

The more time I’ve spent in the industry, the more I’ve understood how the roles are all interconnected.  An editorial assistant might spend time doing work related to sales and marketing, such as editing marketing copy. A marketing assistant might spend time helping with operations or production. It all depends on the company and the employee. What you learn and who you meet can always be useful to you down the road.

That said, it was a difficult decision for me to take a job in digital production. Like many Pace students, my aspirations were all around editorial—fantasy/sci-fi/YA editorial to be precise. I feared that taking a job in production might pigeonhole me. Looking back, I can’t believe I even considered not taking the job, partly because I enjoy my job so much, and partly because the experience has been so valuable.

So my advice, if you can’t already tell, is to be open to a range of jobs in the industry. You never know what is going to be a good fit. I certainly worried, as an editorial person, how I would fit into a digital production department, but it ended up being a good fit. If you take a chance and it’s not the right move, at least you have more experience, a few more contacts, perhaps some new skills, and the ability to keep looking for something better.

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

Hannah: Well, for starters, Pace was instrumental in helping me land my current job. It was through the school’s networks that I heard about the internship, and partly through their recommendations (yours, in fact!) that I got the job. But more than that, Pace taught me where I ought to be looking. It taught me the organizations I should be a part of, the publications I should read to stay on top of industry news, the ways to reach out and network with people. It taught me how to be connected and engaged in the publishing industry.

The other benefit of the Pace education is how well-rounded it is. For instance, if I had never taken classes at Pace, I might never have learned very much about print production. But having a cursory understanding of print production has actually been quite helpful to me in my digital publishing role, especially when working on print-on-demand projects or style guides. As I said before, publishing is all interconnected. The broad education definitely helps.

I think I should say, too, that I have Professor Soares and Professor Rosati to thank for some of the most helpful, interesting, and enlightening courses during my time at Pace. So thank you!!

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 “The Power of Transmedia: How Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishers Can Use Transmedia to Engage Their Fans.”

Hannah: I have a couple pieces of advice. First of all, when you’re choosing a topic, choose something that genuinely interests you. You’re going to be with it for a while. I was fascinated by the idea of transmedia, which made doing my research quite interesting. I especially enjoyed sitting in the computer lab and telling people that yes, in fact, playing on Pottermore was doing research for my thesis (House: Ravenclaw, Wand: Laurel with Unicorn core, 14 ½ inches). I got to study these engaging, interactive, and experimental forms of storytelling, and then I just had to write it all down. So be creative, and make it enjoyable for yourself.

The next piece of advice is easier said than done, I know, but try and get as close to finished as possible by the time the first draft is due. Start early and finish early. That way you avoid the crazy crunch time at the end of the semester, when you already have other exams and holidays to worry about. Plus, you get more useful feedback during your evaluation of the first draft.

And interview people! This was probably the most helpful thing I did in the entire process. Thank you thank you Professor Levitz!

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give students entering the field to set themselves apart from other applicants?  What specific details should they include on their resumes or in an interview?

Hannah: I have found being a member of professional organizations, such as the Women’s National Book Association and the Young to Publishing Group, to be extremely helpful. You meet people, you gain confidence, and you prove to potential employers your commitment to the industry. If you don’t want to be a member, at least attend publishing events. Go to readings, conferences, panels, and festivals, and volunteer as much as you can. I know you’re busy, but they’re also a lot of fun!

I would say that technical skills are going to be important for anyone entering the industry in any department. Take the courses on ebooks and desktop publishing while you have those resources—it will always look good on a resume.

Obviously, a large part of whether you’re called in for an interview will depend on the experience you have and whether it fits with the position. So take advantage of the broad education you can get as a student, and widen your skill set as much as possible. Learn as much as you can about as much as you can. Especially if you’re undecided about where you want to work, your job search will be easier if you’ve gotten some experience in different departments.

And be patient. You want to seem passionate, not desperate.

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

Hannah: I’ve always been interested in books and storytelling. When I was a kid, my parents used to read to my siblings and me in the evenings—books like The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I remember devouring fantasy and sci-fi novels, especially series books. I was that kid that would sit alone at lunch on purpose in order to finish a good book. I read Ender’s Game at a NASCAR race one time. Yeah, I was that kid.

But I appreciate good storytelling in any medium, which is part of what inspired my thesis on transmedia. I’m fascinated by narrative, and I have always known I wanted to be involved in storytelling somehow. I graduated from undergrad with a BA in Dramatic Arts and Communications, and thought I might write—at the time I was interested in screenwriting. I didn’t think I would go into publishing, and I certainly didn’t imagine I would move to NY. But after I became a copyeditor to pay the bills, and had a chance to try my hand at a little editing, I realized I loved that creative process too. Publishing seemed like a natural fit with my interests and the skills I’d acquired.

I still love to write, and I have found that being involved in publishing is a great motivator and inspiration for my own writing. The pursuits feed each other nicely.

Prof Denning:  What do you think the future holds for companies like Rosetta Books and their competitors? What should graduates expect as they enter digital media and the publishing world?

Hannah: I think the future holds a lot of innovation, experimentation, and collaboration. On the technical end, you’ll see new ebook functionality being constantly developed. Companies will have to experiment to see which of these developments their readers respond to. Those students who heard Arthur Levine’s David Pecker Lecture last semester will recall him saying that he finds too many enhancements in an ebook to be distracting from a traditional narrative. Many readers will agree. But narrative structures can change, and if there are opportunities for expanding a story in multiple directions simultaneously, utilizing various media in the process, I think some writers will take advantage of this. Some already have! And there is certainly a place for enhancements in nonfiction.

I also think that collaboration is going to be important. RosettaBooks partners with groups like the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health Publications, for instance, to publish their resources digitally. And print-on-demand options allow companies like Rosetta to offer print copies of some of their books even without an in-house team dedicated to print publishing. Collaborating with digitizers, clients, agents, marketing teams, and many others allows Rosetta to remain a small and focused company with a large and varied business.

I guess what graduates should expect is change. Be ready to be in a constant state of trying to figure things out.

Prof: Denning:  What do you think are the biggest trends in book and ebook publishing today?  What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?

Hannah: I’m just glad we’re finally done with vampires! I’m joking of course. We’ll never be completely done with vampires…

Since Rosetta doesn’t do much frontlist business, I’m not necessarily in the know about the next big trends in publishing, at least as far as frontlist content goes. But those trends tend to be cyclical anyway. Fantasy gives way to science fiction, gives way to nonfiction, gives way to literary fiction, gives way to fantasy. Give it twenty years, and vampires might even be scary again.

I think the biggest challenge publishers face today is in defining their role. Their relationships with retailers and authors and agents are all being tested and renegotiated right now (sometimes in the courts). And I think that in many ways, the publishing industry as a whole is resistant to change. I want to see publishers embracing these changes instead of hanging on to old practices. Amazon is not going away. Ebooks are not going away. Self-publishing is not going away. How can we work with these facts instead of against them? Publishers have value, but they have to be clear about what they are offering in the digital world that’s going to make authors and retailers want to work with them.

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?

Hannah: When applying for jobs, proofread everything that you do. And then have someone else proofread it. And then proofread it again. You’re entering a business full of former English majors. (Thank you, Diana, for proofreading this interview!)

But look, in the end, the same qualities that are important in any business are important in publishing—integrity, hard work, passion. That’s really the point of all of these interviews and resumes and internships, isn’t it? Employers want proof that you do good work. So take some steps to get noticed. If you do great work as a student, your professors will look out for opportunities for you. Trust me, I know this for a fact—you have an excellent faculty at your disposal. If you do great work as an intern, your bosses will keep you in mind for future jobs. And if no one is noticing your great work, then volunteer, or start a blog, or seek out a mentor. I think it truly comes down to that more than anything. Work hard, be helpful, be pleasant, and opportunities will come along, because people will want to help you out.

 

 

Thank you Hannah for your insightful and informative interview!

Alumni Interview- April 2013

Simon Fong graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2012.  He is currently employed as a Digital Jr. Associate at MediaVest, one of the leading ad agencies in the industry.  At Media Vest, he works on the Procter and Gamble account and 14 brands within the Person Health Care and Wellness category of this account.  Fong was a Web Intern at both Condé Nast’s Details magazine and at Niche Media.

 

 

Prof. Denning:  Hi Simon and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  It has been one year since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2012.  Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?

Simon:  Hi Professor Denning!  It’s such a privilege to be selected to be part of the Alumni in the Spotlight Interview!  I remember reading many of these interviews when I was a student at Pace and taking a lot of valuable information from them, so I hope that I can give some great advice and useful information to some of the current students who are reading this interview.

It’s been a complete whirlwind experience after graduating from the Pace M.S. in Publishing Program last year.  Shortly after graduating, I accepted a job as a Digital Jr. Associate at MediaVest, one of the leading ad agencies in the industry, where I work on the Procter and Gamble account.  It is definitely an intense job, but it is very fulfilling and has given me so much first-hand experience with the advertising industry!

 

Prof. Denning:  What does your job at MediaVest entail?  How do you interact with the other members of dynamic, design, marketing, media and human experiences company? 

Simon: I am currently a junior media buyer on the Proctor and Gamble account, and work on 14 brands within the Personal Health Care and Wellness category in the P&G portfolio.  I am both client and vendor facing, so I interact with the brand team on a daily basis to work on display ad programs, social media programs, and also tactical broadband programs (video ads you see on websites like Youtube). 

I also work closely with the creative agency.  It’s very exciting because I get to preview ads before they are actually live.  Additionally, I work closely with the strategy team to come up with dynamic campaigns that focus on the human experience and reaching the right target consumer.  We have worked on many campaigns together, one of which is the recent Scope Bacon April Fools campaign, which was extremely fun to work on. 

I also love working with vendors, which are the websites we partner with to create these programs.  I am constantly in meetings!  I think 50% of my time is spent in meetings.  It’s a very social job, and you need to have a friendly and outgoing personality, since you are always meeting with vendors and have to also attend after work events and parties.  These events are amazing networking opportunities, since you get to meet so many professionals in the industry.  After awhile everyone just knows everyone, since it’s such a small industry.

 

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

Simon: Some of my favorite parts of the job are working with vendors and understanding what their websites can offer us and learning about their capabilities.  The digital space is constantly changing, so even though I’ve only been working for a year, I feel that so many things have already changed in the way we approach a campaign compared from when I started a year ago.

Working in media is great, especially for someone fresh out of college.  Everyone is young and fun and it’s definitely an environment where you can meet a lot of friends at work or outside of work.  There are always tons of industry parties to attend, and you get to go to some of the finest restaurants in the city.  Vendors also go out of their way to make their clients happy, so you can always expect fun perks like designer jeans, designer sunglasses, and going to concerts and spas.  We definitely work very hard and I am completely content with my job even without all of these perks, but it is an added bonus to the many hours you dedicate to your job.  Our company’s motto at MediaVest is “work hard and play hard,” which is definitely true!

 

Prof Denning:  Tell us a bit about P&G at MediaVest  and some of the initiatives they have taken in response to new technological developments. 

Simon: Procter and Gamble is the largest advertiser in the United States. They are in the forefront of innovation, and have taken many steps to make sure that they are the leaders in the digital space.  Our ads are some of the most technologically advanced in the industry.  We implement channel intelligence widgets in our ads, which helps users drive to different e-retailers to purchase our products. 

Additionally, we are always mindful of using all of the most sophisticated capabilities our partners can offer, such as search remessaging, purchase based targeting and demo-targeting.  For example, one of the 14 brands I work on is Tampax.  We can ensure that our ad is served (seen) by a female who is between the ages of 18-34, has purchased a Tampax product in the past, and has also searched for feminine hygiene on the web. 

 

Prof. Denning:  How does new technology and social media fit into/impact your professional role?

Simon: Procter and Gamble is on top of social media.  They want people to talk about their products in the social space.  We have been very successful with this with many of our products, especially Old Spice, which has been one of the most viral campaigns from any company in recent years.  Covergirl is also a brand that benefits a lot from social media, since we have celebrity endorsers that already have a huge social media following.

I personally work very closely with Facebook and Twitter.  Just a few weeks ago, I was on a call with Twitter to learn about their new interface and had a one-hour session with them to learn how to use their interface, which was extremely fun to use.  I also work with Facebook a lot, and I think I correspond with them either on the phone or via email at least once a day.

 

Prof Denning:  During your time at Condé Nast you worked as a Web Intern at Details magazine, and at Niche MediaWhat was the transition from Web Intern to Digital Jr. Associate like?  What advice would you give to a young publishing professional looking for their first “real” job?

Simon: Being an intern is one of the best experiences ever!  I believe everyone should at least have a few internships to test out what you like and what type of professional career path you want to take after you graduate.  I loved interning at Condé Nast!  During my time there I contributed to the Social Media edition of the September issue of Details Magazine, which was on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Flipboard.  It was very fulfilling interning for one of the premier magazine publishers in the industry.  I also worked on search optimization and affiliate marketing at both of my internships.

I continue to have a great working relationship with Condé Nast to this day.  I had actually worked with Details Magazine on a Crest White Strips campaign last summer, and have also worked with other Condé Nast properties, like Teen Vogue, Glamour, Epicurious.com and Style.com.

I must say that there is a vast difference between interning and having a “real” job.  As an intern, you go in at 10am and leave at 6pm every day.  You aren’t given the most important responsibilities, so if you do make a mistake, it’s not a huge liability.  You’re really there to learn and develop necessary skill for your first “real” job.  Now, as for working in the real world, people aren’t going to spoon feed you anymore or hold your hand.  You have to be tough and be prepared to deal with real situations.  If a multimillion dollar campaign is being delayed, there is a chance that the client is not going to be happy on the phone, or if a campaign did not perform well, there is a chance that the client will flip out.  These are the real responsibilities that employees have to deal with and interns don’t ever see.  Additionally, there are times when you are literally working 14 hours a day for the whole week.  I remember being at the office from 9AM to 12AM working on media reporting for Nielsen last summer.  Advertising is definitely not a career for everyone.  You need to be mentally tough and also truly love what you are doing, or you most likely won’t make it for long.

 

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

Simon: Pace was an amazing place to learn about the Publishing world.  The best thing about this program is that the faculty is made of professors who have worked in the industry or are currently working in the industry.  I think that it’s very helpful to get first-hand experience from professors who can share what they know about the industry and also impart their knowledge to their students.

One of my favorite professors from this program is Professor Baron.  She was fantastic at teaching what she knew best and always made her classes extremely enjoyable and engaging.  I always looked forward to attending her classes.  She was also the reason behind me getting my internship at Condé Nast.  She actually asked someone who she had known at Details to put in a good word for me, and the following day, I got an email from them asking me to interview with them.  So, it’s definitely important to make those great relationships with your professors, and also never be afraid to ask them to give you career advice, since that is what they are there for.

I also loved the more business oriented classes that I took during my time at Pace.  I loved the advertising sales class I took with Professor Wilson, since it had prepared me for some of the things that I deal with on a day to day basis, like CPMs and agency/publisher relationships.  I think it’s important for students at Pace to take a whole array of different classes to get a more holistic view of the publishing industry.

 

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 “The Future of Magazines in the Digital Age?”

Simon: Writing my graduate thesis was an extremely fun process.  I believe that you need to write a thesis about a topic that is interesting to you and the rest will be easy.  It was extremely easy to write my thesis, since it was really enjoyable reading about all the industry trends that was happening at the time and also incorporating what I had learned from my classes into the thesis.  So, I think it is imperative to start off with writing a thesis that you have an extreme passion and interest in.

Since I only work on digital and occasionally some mobile extensions in my campaigns, I never deal with print in my day to day job.  There is a separate team who does print in my agency.  That being said, I do work with publishers like Condé Nast, Time Inc, Meredith and Hearst on all of their online properties.  They offer a lot of great content and sometimes offer tablet extensions.  I do meet with account directors from these publishers, and there are definitely a lot of new things that are coming from these publishers.  Unfortunately, since a lot of what is shared in these meetings are confidential, I wouldn’t be able to share what is new and up and coming with these publishers.

 

Prof. Denning:  What advice would you give students entering the field do to set themselves apart from other applicants?  What specific details should they include on their resumes or in an interview?

Simon: I for one know that it was extremely hard to get an interview when I first graduated.  The key is to network, and I definitely took advantage of that.  I remember connecting with every guest speaker we had in class on LinkedIn.  After I graduated, I sent about a hundred resumes out and did not received any responses.  I then went on LinkedIn and started messaging all the professionals I had met in those two years and asked if they had 30 minutes to meet with me, or to help me out with connecting with the right people to get a job.  All of them were willing to help, and they were all extremely helpful in my job search.

I strongly believe that networking is the key to getting a job these days.  You can have the best resume, but no one is going to read it when you submit it online.  They have systems that electronically sort out thousands of resumes before it actually gets to a real person.  I think students should take advantage of every career fair event that Pace offers, make meaningful and lasting relationships with your supervisors and colleagues at your internships, and also make meaningful relationships with your professors.

You have to be hungry for a job, especially in the economy we are in now.  A job isn’t just going to fall on your lap from sitting in front of your computer screen.  You need to be persistent and connect with people to help guide you in the right direction.  Especially since I’ve been working for a year, I see that many people move from one company to another company based on the relationships they have built and from referrals from those relationships. 

As for resumes, I think it’s best if you have as many people look over it before you send them out.  You (Professor Denning) are great at refining resume but I would suggest that students also ask other professors that they respect to take a look at it too.  If you know people in the industry, have them take a look at it too, such as your supervisor who you are interning for.  Also, ask for a recommendation after your internship to show that you are a valuable asset. 

You should be prepared for your interview, and research background information on the company and really be passionate about why you want to work there.  You should also ask a lot of questions about the industry and how your interviewer feels about industry trends.  I remember when I interviewed for a digital sales position at Conde Nast, thanks to a referral from a class guest speaker; that the account director I interviewed with was so impressed by me that he was actually stumped by a question that I had asked him.  I wounded up accepting the position at MediaVest though.

 

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

Simon: I’ve always loved reading magazines.  As a child I loved the beautiful imagery in magazines.  I initially wanted to be a writer, because I thought it would be fun to write for a magazine.  Unfortunately, my writing skills just were not up to par, and to be honest, I think I would be surviving of off ramen noodles if I were to be a writer.

I always thought that media would be a fun place to work in, and it is.  My eldest sister works in media and my second oldest sister works in fashion at Alice + Olivia. I studied finance as an undergraduate, and couldn’t envision myself working in the financial industry.  When I started taking classes at Pace for publishing, I was taking them for fun, but then I decided to enroll in the program.  It was one of the best decisions I have made.  I took many different classes, and I naturally liked the digital classes I took.  So, I guess that’s how I ended up working at an ad agency being a media buyer for digital display ads.

 

Prof Denning:  What do you think the future holds for companies like MediaVest  and their competitors? What should graduates expect as they enter digital media and the publishing world?

Simon: MediaVest is a company that works on all media types.  We do media buying for digital, mobile, print, tv, radio and out of home (those big ads you see in Time Square).  Television is still the biggest in terms of expenditure, and it makes sense naturally, since they still have the largest reach out of all media. 

I believe that digital will continue to grow in the future and other more traditional medias like radio and print will continue to decline.  Within my company, there are many employees who are willing to start over as a junior again to be on a digital account.  There are people constantly moving from TV or print into digital, so that shows how things are shifting even within my own company. 

Students should expect to be bombarded with a lot of information all at once when they start their jobs.  You will feel overwhelmed at first, and maybe even cry at your job the first few months.  I didn’t know what I was doing for the first three months at my job, and it was a horrible feeling, but then it gets much better.  The learning curve is extremely steep for digital, so it’s not something that is as intuitive as print or tv.  You need to be prepared to give it your all and be dedicated to your work.  It’s definitely not child’s play when your client is entrusting you with a million dollars to work on a campaign!

Prof: Denning:  What do you think the biggest trends in website/magazine publishing are today?  What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?

Simon: The biggest trend for magazine websites is definitely custom sponsorships.  They offer 100% share of voice for our ads that run on their sites, similar to competitive separation in print magazine, 100% SOV means that your product has 100% ownership of the webpage, and no other similar products will appear on the same page.  They also offer a lot of call to action opportunities, such as giveaways and contests, which brings more awareness to our products.

The biggest challenge for magazine publishers is that it is continuing to decline.  There are many other websites that are giving magazines a run for their money.  The decline in magazines is more of a trend, and it’s something that is affected by consumer behavior, so it’s hard to say how they can turn it around. 

 

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?

Simon: My advice is to love what you are doing.  It is that simple.  If you love what you are doing and love the people you work with, then you’ll be able to survive and thrive in this industry.

 

Thank you Simon for your insightful and informative interview!

Alumni in the Spotlight- March 2013

 Jaclyn Stewart is a 2010 graduate of the MS in Publishing program.  She grew up outside of Atlantic City, NJ.  Jaclyn attended Rider University and graduated from The Richard Stockton College of NJ with a degree in Literature and a minor in Writing.  She began her career as in Digital Media Sales at Conde Nast, before becoming a Sales Planner at Shazam Entertainment.  Jaclyn now resides in Manhattan and works as Director of Client Services at StyleCaster, where she focuses on improving customer service at a high level, as well as producing custom and engaging content for advertising partners, including photo shoots and videos. 

 

 

Prof. Denning:  Hi Jaclyn and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  It has been 3 years since you graduated from the MS in Publishing program in 2010.  Can you tell us a bit about what you have been doing and how your career has developed since then?

Jaclyn: Since graduating, I took a job in digital media sales at Conde Nast.  It was a wonderful place to begin a career in digital media and I have learned a lot about the sales and marketing aspects of digital publishing. I then began working at a mobile technology company for a popular iPhone App called Shazam.  I was one of the first people to be hired into the US based sales team where I served as an account manager for the East Coast.  While I loved the start-up environment, I missed working in the fashion and beauty industry and wanted to pursue a position that leveraged my editorial experience, so I joined the StyleCaster team as Director of Client Services.

 

Prof. Denning:  What does your job as a Director of Client Services at StyleCaster entail?  How do you interact with the other members of this style-oriented, digital media company? 

Jaclyn: As employees do in many smaller publishing companies, I wear many hats.  When I first started, I was one of two people in charge of executing every advertising campaign that we sold to our partners. The responsibilities ranged from producing video content, maintaining relationships with bloggers, photographers and other talent used to produce content for our brand partners, serving as the day to day contact for agencies and clients, providing campaign updates and insights to our partners that they can leverage to further improve their messaging in the future etc.  We have since launched a luxury lifestyle site called The Vivant and have acquired a site called DailyMakeover.com that has an amazing proprietary technology that allows women to try on products, hair styles, jewelry and more.  I’ve also developed my own department of account managers, an ad operations team, and project managers so I can focus on improving our customer service at a high level, as well as producing custom, organic and engaging content for our advertising partners.

 

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

Jaclyn: I love producing photo shoots and videos for our partners.  Producing original, compelling content is always a challenge.  Integrating a brand’s message and objective into the content and still speaking to an audience in your site’s editorial tone adds an additional challenge that I welcome on a regular basis.

 

Prof Denning:  Tell us a bit about StyleCaster and some of the initiatives they have taken in response to new technological developments. 

Jaclyn: StyleCaster is a collection of fashion and beauty websites that speaks to (mainly) women across about how to look and feel good whether through beauty, lifestyle or, of course, fashion content. The acquisition of DailyMakeover.com was motivated by the changing landscape of digital and it will allow us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors because not only will we be able to produce engaging and relevant content, which we do now.  We also will be able to virtually put the information in the users’ hands to allow them to try-on the latest products and trends for themselves before they purchase. Our competitive set ranges from Hearst and Conde Nast to newer sites like Sugar and Refinery29, but we firmly believe that our mission of “Style to the People” and the acquisition of a very sophisticated try-on technology sets us completely apart from our competitiors.

 

Prof. Denning:  How does new technology and social media fit into/impact your professional role?

Jaclyn: Social media plays a huge role in my life at StyleCaster.  Brands are always trying to achieve engagement through their social channels, so we publicize any custom content we create for our advertisers via our social channels.  We also incorporate social media into our promotions and contests.

 

Prof Denning:  During your time at Shazam Entertainment, you worked as a Sales Planner, with experience in Digital Sales Planning from Condé Nast.  Was the transition from Sales Planner to Client Services difficult or a natural transition and why did you make the switch? What advice would you give to a young publishing professional hoping to transition between different industry concentrations?

Jaclyn: Sales planning is really an entry-level introduction to sales and marketing in the digital media world.  It’s a great way to find your footing in the industry and learn the inner workings of any company. Working at arguably one of the most prestigious publishing companies in the US was an amazing privilege and learning experience, but being part of building a sales team at a smaller company helped me hone in on my talents and assist positions aside from my role as sales planner.  My experience in the publishing business combined with my editorial background has really paved the way for me to take on my current, sales role at StyleCaster.  I also have the opportunity to oversee and produce content both our advertisers and our users love.

 

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

Jaclyn: My educational experience at Pace really laid the groundwork for me to enter a professional workplace and have a working knowledge of the roles and expectations of working in publishing. My internship at Fitness Magazine  was definitely the highlight of my experience as a graduate student at Pace.  I had the opportunity to research and write a great deal in the women’s lifestyle space, which has always been where my professional passion lived.

 

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 “Advertising Censorship in Print Media: Can Magazines Protect Their Editorial Integrity?”

Jaclyn: My advice would be to find a topic that’s relevant to the current landscape of the publishing industry. The irony of my own thesis paper is that what I learned in the process is extremely relevant to my day-to-day life here at StyleCaster. There has always been an age old struggle between the “church and state” of magazine publishing, but with social media and advertisers constantly pushing to make their message more organic and integrated into content, my job is walking a very fine line between serving my clients and our readers.

 

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?

Jaclyn: I always look for someone who speaks in specifics.  For example, I would look for someone who lists their specific skills with various software programs and lays out their exact skill set and experience over someone who “is a team player” or “is detail-oriented.”  Not to say these things aren’t extremely important, but it is better to highlight a tangible skillset over behaviors that cannot really be proven or determined through a resume. I think the most important skills students need when entering the workplace are the ability to actively listen, be willing to learn and the willingness to work hard. This isn’t an easy 9AM-5PM industry, but it is extremely rewarding and fun when you find the right job for you.

 

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?

Jaclyn: The industry was probably at its worst when I graduated. With the Kindle and iPad coming into the market, there was a big “print is dead” mentality compounded by the recession that made it extremely difficult to find work in the field. This is ultimately how I ended up working in sales but as happy accidents tend to go, I’ve found a place where I have the perfect marriage of my editorial skills, creativity and business acumen.

 

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

Jaclyn: I was a Literature major in under grad with a minor in writing so my passion for reading and writing has always been there.  I felt a publishing degree was a great way to tailor this passion into a skill set I could take into the market place and become successful.

 

Prof Denning:  What do you think the future holds for news websites like StyleCaster and or magazines that they compete with—specifically for graduates hoping to enter the digital media and publishing world?

Jaclyn: I think it’s a great big, wide world out there in the digital media publishing space and every time we think that we have predicted its trajectory, it changes again.  So I think that if you’re looking for a career that keeps you on your toes and constantly learning then this is a great place to be.

 

Prof: Denning:  What do you think the biggest trends in website/magazine publishing are today?  What are the biggest challenges that publishers face?

Jaclyn: The ability for anyone to create content was a huge problem that established publishers faced in the last few years.  However, I think the public still relies on trusted sources and this trend has fallen back in the favor of the “authorities” on specific topics.  For example, people still look to Allure magazine as the authority on beauty trends and product reviews, even though there are countless amounts of beauty bloggers posting daily about the same subjects.

 

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?

Jaclyn: Be tough and aggressive, but humble. Be a sponge. Stay late and show up early and never, ever think you are above a task that needs to be done.

Thank you Jaclyn for your thoughtful and informative interview!

Faculty in the Spotlight: Veronica Wilson

I always say to my students, “I wish I had found the publishing industry as soon as I graduated from undergraduate school at Temple University.” I came across the publishing industry when I met someone who sold advertising for Essence Magazine. At the time I was working within the corporate insurance sector at CIGNA Corporation and was just about to start my ninth year in the business. While it was an amazing experience, where I learned a great deal about the corporate world, traveled the country and worked with many Fortune 500 companies, I longed for something more dynamic, more interesting and more fun! When my friend told me what advertising sales was all about I said I knew my work experience would make me an ideal candidate for a job within this industry. She introduced me to the Associate Publisher of Essence and I was thrilled. However, the Associate Publisher did not think the transition from corporate insurance to publishing would be an easy one at first. I interviewed for a year, and was passed over twice, before I landed a job at Essence.

Once I made the transition in Ad Sales I knew that I had found an industry that I could work in for the rest of my life. I was given the business category since I came from corporate insurance, so I had accounts like Citibank, Solomon Smith Barney, New York Life, America Online, and more. Based on the success I had with this category they decided to give me more business within different categories, until I was promoted to manage the biggest accounts in the business, such as L’Oreal Paris, Lancome, Maybelline, Estee Lauder, Clinique and more. The business was ever changing and I was always moving around to meet with my accounts and talk about their new launches and how our audience would fit with their various brands. And the magazine editorial was also changing so we always had something new cooking to talk about.
Now I had been out of college a good ten years at this point. And I felt I would have been further ahead in my publishing career if I had started right after undergraduate school. I had this sense that I needed to catch up somehow with where I thought I should be at this point in my life, as if I had actually chosen this industry right out of college. That is when I started looking around at M.S. in Publishing Programs. I knew that this type of Masters would round my background out so that I would learn all the different disciplines that make up a magazine, from production, to editing, to marketing and more. I graduated from Pace in 2003 and knew that now I had the full knowledge to aspire to higher levels at Essence and in my career in general.

Essence was about to go into a joint venture with Time Inc. at the time and that made me very happy as now I would be inside one of the largest publishing houses in the world and would learn even more. I went from being a sales representative to being sales management, as I was promoted to Northeast Ad Director, where I had a sales staff that reported into me directly. Things continued to go well at Essence and within Time Inc. I was promoted again to National Ad Director, where I oversaw all advertising sales across the country at Essence and took part in strategic decision making alongside the Publisher and Associate Publisher of Marketing. I came into my ninth year at Essence, and decided that nine years was enough time at one magazine and now was the time to venture out to another publishing house to see what more I could learn. I moved on to Conde Nast where I was the Associate Publisher for two magazines, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride. The bridal category was a brand new experience and very different from working for a women’s beauty/fashion/lifestyle magazine. I found it to be too small of a niche market, so I made the decision to go back to the category that I loved most, beauty/fashion.

Opportunities within the magazine world were far and few at the time, as the print industry began to shrink and numerous titles were closing due to the emergence of digital. When they say knowing another language is an asset that is not an understatement in anyway. Growing up half Chilean, I always had the Spanish language in my home life, so my next move would turn out to be within the U.S. Hispanic category at Meredith Corporation. Meredith is known for some of the largest, and oldest, magazines in the country, such as Better Homes & Garden, Parents, Ladies Home Journal, More, Fitness and others, and the Hispanic population is booming, as we all know from the 2000 Census. Here I serve as the Associate Publisher of four titles, Siempre Mujer (Always a Woman) a beauty/fashion title, Ser Padres (the Spanish version of Parents Magazine), Espera (Expecting) and Bebe (Baby), all parenthood titles. These are some of the largest Spanish language magazines in the country and now I can say I have expanded my experience to include the parenthood category, as well as the women’s beauty/fashion category. I also have the privilege of overseeing their digital properties, which gives me great exposure to this ever growing sector of publishing.

I have been teaching at Pace as an Adjunct Lecturer since 2008. I teach Ad Sales and Business Communications, both on-line. When teaching Ad Sales, I ask my students to look at many different magazines and I ask them to pick the title they could see themselves working with the most and we discuss what we like and dislike about the magazine and the advertising. We also include the web in some of the class since digital is such a large part of the advertising sales world now (and in the future). We go through a lot of exercises in which we review the ad sales discipline from many different angles including the salesperson, the publisher, the client and the ad agency. We also look at research, circulation, marketing, editorial and production, as ad sales touches each one of these areas in different ways.


In my Business Communications course I have to take a different approach. Because business communication is a tool used daily across all industries, I work with a textbook that addresses the generic principals of business communication. I then introduce different publishing scenarios that might occur in the real work environment to the class. Students address the various situations as if they had to deal with the matter at hand in writing. One week we may be addressing an angry magazine subscriber because they were offended by a magazine cover, and the next week we might be asking someone to support a publishing concept we found on kickstarter.com. It’s really a class about how to approach, think through, and address, different business scenarios (and in our case publishing specifically) which can occur, both positive and negative.

As an alumnus of Pace University, and as an adjunct lecturer here, I truly believe that education is the key to success and that our M.S. in Publishing Program provides a well-rounded perspective on this ever changing and increasingly important industry. I am so glad to see the program, and the graduating classes, grow in size with each passing year.

Alumni in the Spotlight: January 2013

Ivy Jacobson is a May 2010 graduate of the MS in Publishing program.  Ivy began her career as an assistant at The Literary Group, one of the premier literary agencies in the industry. In these capacities, she helped scout talent, read manuscripts and wrote pitches.  She then moved on to the Macmillan publishing house, where she worked in the Henry Holt editorial department as an assistant and researched prospective authors and illustrators and read and evaluated agented submission. After, she moved to the magazine side of publishing as an executive assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of Plum Hamptons magazine, a luxury living publication owned by the Plum TV, a lifestyle television network. Ivy then made the jump to digital publishing and is currently an Editorial Assistant/Assistant to the Chief Content Officer for Patch.com. Patch is a local news and information platform owned by the AOL Corporation, operating in some 900+ local and hyper local news websites in 23 states in the US.  She earned her BA from Florida State University and her Masters in Publishing from Pace University. 

 

Prof. Denning:  Hi Ivy and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.  It has been 1 year 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?

Ivy: Thank you for having me, Professor Denning! It’s been a busy year since I graduated. I feel like I’ve been working in the publishing industry for a while—I started the program in 2010 and worked in various aspects of the field since then. Prior to the job I hold now at Patch.com, I’ve worked within a publishing house, literary agencies, a magazine, and an advertising agency. My main goal when I started the program was to gain experience from every facet of publishing that I could to make myself well rounded, and see what the best fit was for me. Ultimately, I realized I loved working within the editorial side of publishing, and with the industry rapidly turning digital, I realized that that was where I needed to be. With editorial experience from print publications, I wanted to take that knowledge and combine it with working within the digital space. Working for the editorial side of Patch.com is a great fit, and I started here in August of 2012.

Prof. Denning:  What does your job as Editorial Assistant/Assistant to the Chief Content Officer entail?

Ivy: A good chunk of what I do is assist with social media and audience engagement for Patch’s metrics and social media outlets, plan editorial content for the year, write and copyedit articles, monitor content, interact with bloggers, and plan special events for Patch.  I also support the Chief Content Officer, who oversees all editorial, branding, technology and product for the website. I work closely with each facet of the content team, such as Audience Development, Custom Content, Social Media, Product, News, and Editorial Operations, and am involved with various projects for each.

Prof Denning:  What are some of your favorite parts of your job? What What are the perks and highlights of working on the digital side of the publishing industry?

Ivy: From working for a website, it was great to see that publishing comes in many forms. It was a bit challenging at first realizing that the term “editorial” doesn’t translate across different platforms. I had to learn to think in broader terms, because writing for the web is different than writing for a print publication. Your article doesn’t just stop at 250 words on a page. You provide hyperlinks in your articles to emphasize points, you have to dive into learning about SEO and realizing that SEO rules in article writing, and not the witty little ledes, heds, and deks I was used to writing, because that’s not how people think when they are looking up articles online. It’s writing and editing content that is measured in UVs and not subscribers and newsstand circulation. For a little background of Patch.com, it is a hyper local information and engagement platform, so it is strictly for local community news. I write lots of national custom content, where I create the shell of a story, and it is up to the local editors to tailor them to their town. I think that being able to be up to the minute on in news reporting is fabulous (such as our reporting during the Newtown massacre, which is a Patch town), as opposed to having to wait month to month to report at a print publication, which is why so many magazines have more engaging digital platforms. I love working for a website that is there to tie together small communities, because I was born in a Patch town and raised in another, so I really relate to the tiniest things going on really resounding for people who live in the community.

Prof. Denning:  How does technology/social media fit into/impact your current job?

Ivy: Technology and social media are a huge part of my job. Patch is a website with no print counterparts, so the readership is derived solely from how we market ourselves, how we partner with advertisers, how local our content is, and how easy we make our platform to use in the community. Every Patch town has a Facebook and Twitter, so that helps with getting breaking news out, engaging the community to a higher degree, and seeing what stories are being shared the most. We also email daily newsletters to subscribers, have a Patch mobile app, and have community bloggers. Besides, since Patch is a digital content medium, our platform is constantly evolving. We have a redesign of our site plan being rolled out with more components to it to better involve communities.

Prof Denning:  Patch.com is part of AOL.  Can you tell us what it is like working for such a large company?   What makes AOL unique?

Ivy: AOL owns other websites besides Patch that often partner together to create more content for their audience, such as the Huffington Post, Mapquest, Moviefone, TechCrunch, and many others. AOL is getting to be known as a big, branded lifestyle platform with lots of topical verticals. Patch has various opportunities to work with AOL, such as pitching Patch’s stories to the AOL homepage, partnering with other AOL entities, or when we team up with Huffington Post Live to expand on various topics trending in Patch towns. The CEO of AOL, Tim Armstrong, actually came up with the idea of Patch and digging back into hyper local news, because of his love and interest for his own small hometown.

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

Ivy: What was most important to me in my class choices were getting lots of information about all facets of publishing and being well rounded in both print publications and the web. I took classes in book, magazine, and digital publishing, marketing, financial aspects of publishing, creating publications, how publications are physically made, etc. I loved that all professors in the program are industry professionals as well, and spoke from personal experience in class about their careers and what its like to work at certain places, and also brought in former and current colleagues to speak to the class. I got to attend class at the Reuters building once, which was hugely informative.

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

Ivy: In college, I was an English Literature major. As an avid reader and writer, I realized my senior year that reading and writing the words wasn’t enough to satisfy me—I wanted to delve into the business behind them. Why do certain comedic children’s books sell and others don’t? Will an e-book of Dante’s Inferno sell more copies than the classic printed edition? What will become more valuable: digitally enhanced e-book art or illustrations on a page printed from the 19th century? Will children learn to read better on a Kindle or a piece of paper? Will this amazing writer’s books sell, even though they only have 100 followers on Twitter and don’t have a blog to use as a marketing platform? If a magazine doesn’t hit their advertising goals, will it fold even if the editorial content is great? If you ask yourself those types of questions as you are reading a book, magazine, or website, publishing might be the right path for you if you don’t want to be an English Literature professor, go to law school, or work in Public Relations.

Prof. Denning:  What do you think the biggest trends in book publishing are today?

Ivy: I’d say that the biggest trend right now is a toss-up between enhanced e-books for children, and reading monthly and daily print publications on e-readers. There are great studies coming out about sales skyrocketing for children’s e-books because they are so interactive. They have moving illustrations, audio that helps sound words out, and often include games to further literacy education for the child. Many publishers are doing this with books for adults, available for immediate download on iTunes and other outlets. Romance novels are also huge sellers for e-books, because women can read them on the go and at the beach without other people judging the 50 Shades of Grey cover. I definitely think e-books and e-magazines are here to stay, but I also think that print publications won’t entirely diminish. Sentimentally, there are people (like me) who will always love holding an actual book. Financially, sometimes creating e-publications cost just as much as printing a book, although the boom in e-book trending is great for self-published authors who can control how much they sell it for and in what capacity. The print magazine world was also shocked when Newsweek recently transitioned to a digital publication only. They found it was more efficient and effective to reach their readers in an entirely digital format. That jump to solely digital is a huge leap for the publication, and raises questions of steady advertising revenue and being able to perpetually reach their targeted audience in the coming years.

Prof. Denning:  Any other advice you would like to offer up to our students? To those looking to survive and thrive in this industry?

Ivy:  Be resilient. The world of publishing might seem large with books, magazines, e-books, and websites, but it’s actually quite small. Keep a positive, can-do attitude through every position you have, and you will develop a good work repertoire. Own every task given to you, and soon those small tasks will become larger ones. Also, don’t get discouraged easily. Working in publishing today is so seamless when you aren’t employed full time. Interning, temping, part-timing, and freelancing are all the same to me—so whatever your job is, do it well, and you will be remembered for the full time jobs that open up down the road when your old editor is pressed for time and thinks, “Who can I bring in in a pinch who is smart and trustworthy?” I also think that being successful in publishing also comes from knowing how to relate to other departments at your publication. Working at literary agencies and a publishing house made me realize the important relationship between editors and agents. Working in the editorial department at a magazine and at an advertising agency made me realize how editors want certain ads to speak for the image they are trying to convey to their targeted audience, who also need a certain type of content. Knowing how other components of your job field operate usually makes it easier to anticipate requests, deadlines, and needs from others.

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

Ivy: I loved the courses I took, especially the ones I had with Professor Rosati. Her classes dove into what it’s really like to work in publishing and prompted lots of discussion. I also loved my internships, especially at the Macmillan publishing house where I ended up getting to be an assistant to one of the editorial directors for a children’s book imprint. Also, a huge highlight of the program were the friends I made. We all ate, breathed, and slept publishing for two years together, and we all work in publishing now—it’s been really helpful to be able to bounce ideas about our jobs and careers off of each other. I’m so proud of all of them—walking across the stage at Rockefeller Center together to get our diplomas was the perfect final highlight.

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

Ivy: Since your thesis is based on your internship experience, try to apply what you are doing at your internship to what you are learning about in class—for me, they really bounced off of each other. Start making notes of certain topics you want covered in your paper, and how you dealt with them at your internship. Once you do that, you will find that writing your thesis will be easier once you have facets of your thesis statement to string along. Also, choose a topic that really interests you and you want to dig deeper into. It is hard work to write, but if you choose a topic that you’re passionate about, the words will flow much faster.

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?

Ivy: I would definitely make it a point to really specify what you have done in your resume, and not just put “wrote articles, researched sources, and manned social media platforms.” How many new Twitter followers did you gain solely because of a great article you wrote that you posted in a tweet? What kind of professionals are you used to working with for tapping for sources? If it’s a fashion assistant job at a magazine, how quickly can you steam a dress, pack it in the garment bag, and run it back to the Valentino showroom? If it’s a publicity job at a publishing house, what type of clients have you worked with before, and how will that experience lend to the publishing house in your cover letter? With so many applicants applying to every position advertised, you really have to make yourself stand out with your capabilities and not your run of the mill tasks. I’ve interviewed interns before, and the ones that stood out were ones who told me exactly what they liked to do involving certain tasks, how they succeeded in them, and how they could apply that directly to the position they were interviewing for.

Prof. Denning: What are your hopes and dreams for your own career? Goals?

Ivy: Ultimately, I’d like to pursue being an executive editor, and then an editorial director and oversee editorial content and operations for an online edition of a magazine or a lifestyles website.

Prof.Denning:  Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Ivy:  A firm handshake while giving eye contact counts for more than you think in an interview (and in life!).

 

Thank you Ivy, for this thoughtful and informative interview!