Posts filed under Publishing

Gretchen Gales: Freelance Writer & Marketing Intern

Name: Gretchen Gales

Age: 21

College & Majors/Minors: B.A. in English and History, minor in Creative Writing

Current Location: Richmond, Virginia

Current Form of Employment: Freelance Writer and Marketing Intern at Legacy Navigator

Where do you work and what is your current position?

As a freelancer, I put my eggs in so many baskets, the Easter Bunny is angry with me. Independently, I have had bylines in Ms., The Establishment, Bustle, and more. I’m currently the managing editor of Quail Bell Magazine, an online and occasional print publication exploring the magic and beauty of culture, history, feminism, folklore, and much more. Christine Stoddard and I work together with the other (volunteer, I should add) editors and staff writers to produce the best possible experience for our readers. We recently created more narrowed-down editor roles. We promoted Ren Martinez as the fiction editor, and if you take a peek at some of her work—especially her short stories—it was an easy choice. Archita Mittra is our poetry editor. She’s achieved a lot at a young age as well, including producing haunting, aesthetically pleasing written and art work. Lashelle Johnson is our essay editor and curates essays from diverse voices. She also brings her own voice into the mix, tackling topics about race, gender and more. Erynn Porter, Ghia Vitale, Amy Joyce, Julian Drury, and Melanie Bikowski are our hard-working assistant editors. Quail Bell wouldn’t be the same without our dedicated volunteers.

I am also an intern at Legacy Navigator, a real estate liquidator specializing in grief. It is a very compassionate company. Everyone values your input and we all have fabulous rapport. You see a lot of companies try and cultivate a “family” relationship to improve the company’s morale, but I would say this is the first job where I feel I could be upfront and communicate exactly what I’m feeling at all times. They value their employee’s mental health and respect your limits. I don’t feel the normal urge to be a “yes woman” and agree to do absolutely everything to get on anyone’s good side. In other words, I have had a great internship experience.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

My first true writing job was working with Christine Stoddard as managing editor of Quail Bell Magazine. I found out about Quail Bell by walking around during an Art Walk and purchased our two anthologies. I read them and immediately fell in love, determined that I would place my work in the magazine someday. Before I was promoted to managing editor, I was brought on board as a volunteer staff writer, then an assistant editor, and finally to where I am today. I essentially help sort through submissions for quality work that speaks to our mission as well as curating pieces for special projects. We love beautiful and haunting pieces. I’m always excited to give the go-ahead to editors about which pieces to accept. We have also been taking the initiative to make more original artwork to pair with submissions so that every piece is unique. The real moral of the story is to spend your last $20 on books, specifically small indie publishers.

“Finding someone who is willing to be a mentor to you is a remarkable experience.”

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Being mentored by Christine Stoddard was an amazing opportunity. After a summer internship I had initially signed up for went sour—always investigate a magazine AND their editors before accepting an opportunity—Christine generously offered to be my mentor for the summer and teach me all about how to find work and refine my pitches for larger chances of success. She is a superstar, but still makes time to share her own knowledge with fledgling writers. Finding someone who is willing to be a mentor to you is a remarkable experience. I had admired Quail Bell early in my undergraduate career, so getting a poem published in the publication was already surreal. I never would have imagined I would get this far.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I sought out internship opportunities and jumped at interesting opportunities I saw on social media. There are groups for submission calls on Facebook all over the place. Join them and see what you can find. I also went to my first AWP conference this year in Washington, D.C. I had a blast, and hope I can attend again in the near future. It is a writer’s absolute dream. The book fair alone was like trick-or-treating for bookworm adults.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Actively look for opportunities to submit your writing. Just because you’re in college (or fresh out of college) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t already be looking out for submission and pitching opportunities. Yes, that includes your “dream” magazines. Aim big! Most of my bigger bylines were snatched up after I submitted a pitch or draft just to see what would happen. If you don’t know where to start, Submittable just added a Discover feature with filters, so you can find the perfect opportunity for you.

You should also follow a variety of literary magazines—small and large—on various social media outlets. Some people believe that all writers are recluses and anti-social, but that is farther from the truth. I don’t think something like the AWP conference could exist if writers didn’t have a desire to talk to one another about their ideas and projects.

Oh, don’t forget to read. I know time is limited in college and you’re really only focusing on readings assigned by your professors, but I promise it is manageable. Take a moment every day to read a short article or piece that pertains to your writing interests. It can be a source of motivation, inspiration, and a distraction from the normal college-related stress. Plus, you’ll get a sense of what you want your own writing style to be like.

Finally, balance the work you need to do for day to day living with creative work. It is true that you probably will not make a sustainable living on your creative works right after college, and it is an incredibly hard journey to get there. But if you are persistent and work hard, you can find career opportunities that are enjoyable and stable. That means you can more time to focus on your creative endeavors, like that could-be bestseller!

You can check out Gretchen's online portfolio here. You can also follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her fan page on Facebook.


Posted on November 2, 2017 and filed under Freelance, Publishing.

Megan Barnard: Editor

Name: Megan Barnard

Age: 24

College & Majors/Minors: Hollins University: English major with a concentration in creative writing. Double minors in communications and history. 

Current Location: Baltimore, MD

Current Form of Employment: Full-time editor at Angel Publishing

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I'm currently an editor at investment research firm, Angel Publishing. I primarily work for Energy and Capital where I write blog posts, PPC (pay-per-click) articles, marketing copy, and copyedit.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

I spent at least half of my senior year applying to writing/editorial jobs… And I found nothing. Job hunting was nearly a full-time job on its own. It was incredibly frustrating to see all these entry-level jobs that needed 1-2 years of experience. I ended up getting a job working customer service in a call center (which I had about 4 years of experience in) for a travel agency in Boston.

I spent about 9 months in the call center… and found that it was not for me. I had moved back to Maryland (where I’m from) at this point and telecommuted for work, but I desperately wanted out of customer service. I did anything I could to make myself stand out: I polished my LinkedIn, I contacted alumni from my university, and I applied to all jobs that possibly fit my experience.

I found the job posting for my current job on Craigslist. I applied immediately and got an email back that day, then had an interview and job offer within a week.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

It wasn’t a job per-se, but I wrote a Senior English Honors Thesis during my senior year of college. The thesis wasn’t required to graduate, but I found that the time and research I had to put into it (I was writing a novel), along with the hours of actual writing and one-on-one meetings with my thesis advisor were vital for developing my writing skills. It also gave me the opportunity to work on my writing daily, and helped me realize that writing and editing was actually something I loved to do each day. It confirmed that I was in the right field of study.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I wrote my Senior English Honors Thesis. I created a resume and LinkedIn account, I kept my GPA high and became a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honors society. I also doubled minored in history and communications. History, because I loved the subject, and communications, because it pairs really well with an English degree and looks good on a resume. 

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Don’t give up. Don’t listen to the people who laugh when you tell them you’re getting your degree in English (those “you’ll be my next barista” jokes are obnoxious). English is a beautiful field of study, and you can succeed at it.

My top tips:

Create a LinkedIn account. It’s actually way more important than you might think during school. Make sure it looks professional, with your resume and a headshot, and then connect with people from your school, no matter how much you hate networking.

Network. I know, I hated this part too. I think half of us become an English major because we like working with words, not people, but networking is a vital part of the career world. The more comfortable you become with it now, the better it will be. It’s okay to be afraid, but do it anyway.

There are jobs in the field of English—but you have to look for them. Finance and IT are fields that always need writers and editors. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience in finance or IT, apply anyway. I was hired at my current position without knowing anything about the world of finance, but most editors would rather hire someone who knows how to write and teach them about their topics, rather than teach people how to write.

Apply to jobs you don’t technically have enough experience for. I’m not talking about jobs that need 10+ years of experience, I’m talking about the entry level ones that say 1-2. Here’s a secret: almost all job listings say that they want 1-2 years of experience, even if they’re actually looking for people who’ve just graduated. The worst thing that can happen is they say no.

I know a lot of English majors are interested in getting in the traditional book publishing field. I was too, but I didn’t have any information about how to get into those fields, and the career center at my school was not very helpful.

Since then I’ve learned some things. A lot of literary agencies look for interns. I mean a lot. I never had the chance to apply to them, but you can. Bookjobs.com has a lot of listings, but you should also go on the individual websites and look for internships. They say they don’t have any? Send your resume and cover letter anyway. After all, you’re offering free (most literary internships don’t pay) help, so what’s the worst that can happen? Some agencies and publishing houses even have remote internships that you could do while in school.

Lastly, the field of English is one of the most undervalued, but important fields we have today. There are very few jobs around where you don’t have to read and write well, and while it might not be your dream job, you can find a job using the skills you learned in school. Don’t give up. 

To learn more about Megan and her writing, visit www.englishmajorswithjobs.com. You can also follow Megan on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.


Posted on July 15, 2017 and filed under Editing, Editor, Publishing.

Kendal Whitby: Marketing, Distribution, & Production Associate & Editor

Name: Kendal Whitby

Age: 23

College & Majors/Minors: The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, B.A. in English Literature and Spanish Literature

Current Location: Memphis, TN

Current Form of Employment: Marketing, Distribution, and Production Associate and Editor

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work at BelleBooks, a small publishing house in Memphis, TN. BelleBooks, Inc. was founded in 1999 with a focus on Southern fiction and has since broadened its offerings with the addition of a second imprint—Bell Bridge Books—in 2008. We currently publish approximately 30-40 original titles per year (print and ebook simultaneously) in a variety of genres, which include: mystery/suspense, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, romance, general fiction, women's fiction, non-fiction, literary fiction and more. We are known for nurturing emerging fiction voices as well as being the "second home” for many established authors, who continue to publish with major publishing conglomerates. Our sub-rights sales for our titles include foreign rights, large print, mass market paperback, audio and film options.

Like everybody else in the office, I wear many hats. I am a Marketing, Distribution, and Production Associate. Basically what that means is I follow a book from its beginning stages as a manuscript all the way to its final print and ebook distribution. When I wear my Production Hat, I’m working the book through its editing stages (copy-edit, proof, print review, etc.). After that, I put on my Distribution Hat and make sure the title loads correctly to our platforms. Once the book is available everywhere, I, along with the rest of the marketing team, let our readers know through social media and email that the book is out in the world. All this talk about hats makes me want to actually make some for work!

I’m also a submissions editor for our submitted queries. We’re looking every day for the next great author!

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

While this technically isn’t my first job, it’s my first, what I like to call, adult job. When I graduated in May 2015, I really didn’t know what I was going to do with my career. I was rejected from law school, working in an after school program with terrible management, with no job opportunities on the horizon. I was pretty miserable, to be honest.

One day, I was browsing Facebook, and I got a notification from my school’s English Department page. BelleBooks was looking for a Fall intern. I couldn’t believe that one, there was a publishing house in Memphis, and two, that they were looking for an intern. Sure, it was unpaid, but it was my dream job. And everyone knows that the publishing field is so competitive and experience is your golden ticket. After applying and speaking with the intern supervisor (shoutout to the wonderful Niki Flowers!), I knew that I needed this internship. It was animal friendly, dress casual, and the friendliest people I have ever spoken to.

They were looking for two interns, but the second one had a family emergency that stopped her from continuing it. While her situation wasn’t great, it gave me the opportunity to show them what I was capable of. I had to do the work of two interns and somehow show them that I was worth investing in. My hard work paid off and I was offered a job when my internship ended!

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

The only writing-related job I had before my current one was editing my mom’s college essays for her Master’s program. All it really did for me was make me appreciate the comma more and help me learn that my love of the obscure comes from her.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

This question has caused me as much anxiety as a question possibly could. I’m going to be honest; I didn’t like college. The required classes, the students who didn’t care, and the Freshman 15 (it’s real) turned it into somewhat of a nightmare. I think the most important thing I did in college to prepare me for post-grad life was learning to not rely on others to tell me what I could achieve. After graduating high school with top honors and fourth in my class, I thought college was going to be a breeze and that all my professors would see my “obvious” intelligence. Until I met my psychology counselor. When she asked my plans for my third semester, I told her I wanted to start my Spanish classes as I wanted to double major in Psychology and Spanish. She promptly told me that she didn’t think I was smart enough to double major, proceeded to introduce me to a girl who was excelling in those exact majors, and then tried to convince me to take a class I knew I would hate. I switched majors that year. That counselor wasn’t the reason for the switch, though she might have been a big part of it. I had found an amazing English teacher who helped me re-find my passion for literature.

That counselor made me so angry that I wanted to prove her wrong. In a way, I guess I should be grateful for her because I became ambitious and developed a strong determination to achieve the unachievable. Two qualities that I am most proud of and that will stay with me throughout my entire career.

“Show that company you’re interning at that they need you. Do the busy work with a smile on your face and do it to the best of your ability. Make them realize that you’re capable of more than filing papers, but you will file to your heart’s content if that’s what they need. I was hired after my internship because I showed them that I was willing to do any project they threw at me and because they saw something in me that they liked.”

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

There’s so many things I want to say to those who are pursuing an English degree, but I’ll narrow it to three things.

1. Make room in your class schedule for any class that makes you excited to go to school. My biggest regret from college is missing out on the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature course because of a required Spanish class. The Spanish class was available every semester. Sci-Fi and Fantasy was not.

2. Take the unpaid internship! They usually count as credits as well as give you much needed experience in the field. Plus, if they’re hiring and you do number three on my list, you could find your first post-grad job.

3. Show that company you’re interning at that they need you. Do the busy work with a smile on your face and do it to the best of your ability. Make them realize that you’re capable of more than filing papers, but you will file to your heart’s content if that’s what they need. I was hired after my internship because I showed them that I was willing to do any project they threw at me and because they saw something in me that they liked.

My English degree gave me the tools to find my dream job while also letting me learn about my favorite thing in the world, literature.

You can learn more about BelleBooks here. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. You can follow Kendal on Twitter and Goodreads.


Posted on January 26, 2017 and filed under Publishing, Interview, Interviews.

7 Publishing Tips From English Major Experts

For English majors hoping to get their writing noticed, the world of publishing can feel truly daunting! If you're an aspiring writer struggling with how to go about getting published, then check out these 7 tips and inspiring quotes from English majors who have firsthand experience in the various worlds of publishing that exist today.

Posted on October 16, 2016 and filed under Articles, Publishing, Featured Articles.

Heather Cook: Commissioned Publishing Agent, Publishing Consultant, & Freelance Writer

Name: Heather Cook

Age: 28

College & Majors/Minors: University at Buffalo, English B.A. and Creative Writing Certificate; SUNY Buffalo State College, Masters English Education Candidate.

Current Location: Buffalo, NY

Current Form of Employment: Commissioned publishing agent, publishing consultant, and freelance writer. Former literary columnist of ARTVOICE. 

Where do you work and what is your current position?

Currently, I'm wearing many different hats! My overcrowded planner is my best friend. I'm a commissioned publishing agent, submitting the written works of authors to publishers and literary agents. I work from home, researching literary markets in order to find a good fit for each client. I'm also a publishing consultant for a local literary journal, Plur•al•ity Press (heythey're looking for written submissions!). What does this mean? I didn't know what the job entailed until my first day! In short, using my publishing knowledge, I help guide and direct the journal's marketing department in becoming more successful. 

Simultaneously, I am a graduate student, artist and freelance writer. Yes, indeed I'm a bit of a dabbler. I used to be ashamed of my dabbler instincts, but learned to embrace it. Shouldn't we all strive to be multifaceted, though? I call it the English Major hustle: do whatever you can to get paid to do what you love. It keeps life interesting. 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

“Taking advantage of this opportunity was the best decision I ever made.”

My first English-related job found me. After graduation, a former professor and mentor asked if I'd like to be her "project assistant," submitting her written works to various markets for publication. Do you know there are over five thousand literary markets out there waiting for your submissions? I was terrified to say "yes," because, I mean, come on, that was a lot of pressure and a huge responsibility for a newbie, right?! However, with new knowledge, my shaky confidence wore off rather quickly. Taking advantage of this opportunity was the best decision I ever made. This is when I got an inside look at the publishing industry and the rules it follows. Without this opportunity, I may not have realized how much I enjoy working in the publishing industry. I took everything I learned in that gig and ran with it. A few years later, I'm representing three new clients. Shout out to my favorite-ever professor, and now friend, for believing in and guiding me. 

 Plur•al•ity Press’s Poetry Retreat welcome sign

Plur•al•ity Press’s Poetry Retreat welcome sign

As for my current job: I went out of my comfort zone by way of attending a three-day poetry retreat with a group of poets I had never met before. We shared our craft and ambitions in the campfire light. This is where I met the founder of Plur•al•ity Press. Our casual conversation on the publishing industry unexpectedly lead to a job offer. Who knew? Connections can be made anywhere, so you really have to put yourself out there.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

After graduating I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, but I was offered an internship, which later turned into a job as the literary columnist of ARTVOICE, Buffalo's weekly paper. I interviewed writers, poets, bookstore owners and covered local literary events. The pay was less than great, but the experience was invaluable. More importantly, it helped me rule out journalism as a long-term career. Here, I realized that constantly looking for the next big story wasn't for me. I needed something more "behind the scenes." It's okay to try something new and not like itit's better than never stepping out of your comfort zone, right? 

 UB Lit Club’s “Blind Date with a Book” event, 2013  Left: Athira Unni; Right: Heather Cook; Photo Credit: Anne Mulrooney

UB Lit Club’s “Blind Date with a Book” event, 2013

Left: Athira Unni; Right: Heather Cook; Photo Credit: Anne Mulrooney

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life? 

As much as I possibly could. Most importantly, I joined clubs (UB Lit Club and UB Girl Effect). At first, I turned my cheek to clubs, believing it was "lame." However, these clubs lead me to the like-minded bookish beings I now call lifelong friends. They were/are my biggest supporters, allies and confidants. Years later, from different corners of the world, we still continue to push each other to succeed. I also jumped on the editorial team of our literary magazine, took advantage of a few internships and attended as many conferences I could squeeze in.  

All of this preparation not only added oomph to my CV, but also gave me the life experience I so desperately needed. I highly recommend fully emerging yourself into the field as you study. When you're open-minded and take risks, you'll truly realize what you like and do not like.  

 Graduation Cap of Truth, 2014   

Graduation Cap of Truth, 2014

 

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Studying English will expose you to different worlds and guide you on your quest for self-discovery. It will make you feel small and large at the same time, but do carry on. Regardless of the rumors, do not let the job market discourage you! An English degree is invaluable. I mean, what company wouldn't hire a critical thinker who knows how to effectively communicate? If you're passionate, work hard and stay open-minded, a career (or two) will surely come in due time! Until then, keep reading, writing, learning and networking in order to hone your skills. After all, it's what you've been trained to do. 

To learn more about Plurality Press, click here. You can connect with Heather Cook on LinkedIn and check out her side business, LitARTure, on Etsy


Posted on October 9, 2016 and filed under Publishing.

Rhonda Crowder: Writer, Editor, Journalist

Name: Rhonda Crowder

Age: 42

College & Majors/Minors: Cleveland State University, Bachelor of Arts in English with specialization in creative writing, editing and publishing/minor in psychology

Current Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Current Form of Employment: I work for a newspaper in addition to owning a business.

Where do you work and what is your current position? 

I work for the Call & Post newspaper, an African American-owned weekly based in Cleveland, Ohio, as a general assignment reporter. Because I often find myself working outside of my job description, through this position, I learn so much about writing as well as the business of writing. It truly broadened my perspective of what a person with an English degree can do. Although low-paying, this position provides me with a lot of opportunity, connections and freedom to working on other projects. I use my salary as a base and my other work brings up the rear.

“I never thought of my business growing beyond my own freelance work until I took the Partnership for Minority Business Acceleration (PMBA) class at the Akron Urban League. At that point, my eyes opened to how bad the business world needs skilled writers.”

Realizing I am in the writing business while remembering my propensity for entrepreneurship from as far back as selling lemonade in my preteens, this position led me to start my own business, a communications firm that now provides content creation, graphic design, sales, and media relations services. My clients range from small publishing companies and media outlets to independent authors and small business owners. I had been freelancing since I graduated college, but started Rhonda Crowder and Associates, LLC in 2011 as a result of needing to report my 1099 earnings. I never thought of my business growing beyond my own freelance work until I took the Partnership for Minority Business Acceleration (PMBA) class at the Akron Urban League. At that point, my eyes opened to how bad the business world needs skilled writers. I remember sitting there and saying to myself, "I can do business with everyone in this room, but everyone in the room can't say that." 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

Trust me. I’ve worked plenty of non career-related jobs. Regardless to how bad they sucked, I learned something from each that I use today. My first paid writing gig was Arts and Entertainment Editor for my college newspaper, if that counts. Being a leadership position, it paid a stipend. I was tunnel vision on writing books, movies and plays. I never considered journalism. However, I tried it, got bit by the bug and became more serious about being a writer. After graduating, I didn’t pursue journalism. I maintained my desire to be an author. The only problem with that, I needed a job.

“In casual conversation, I told him I was a writer looking for work and had just been declined by his organization. Long story short, I met with the editor and they made me in offer.”

With my current position, I initially walked in off the street, asked if they were hiring and was told no. I thought no more of it. But by chance, I attended a book club meeting held at the newspaper a few weeks later and met the president. In casual conversation, I told him I was a writer looking for work and had just been declined by his organization. Long story short, I met with the editor and they made me in offer. Knowing I could barely survive off of it and desperately wanting to get paid to write, I took it. That’s one of the best decisions I ever made.  

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

My work at the Call & Post led to me being offered a contracted position to serve as associate publisher of Who’s Who in Black Cleveland. Who’s Who in Black Cleveland is a product of Who’s Who Publishing/Real Times Media. The organization highlights the successes of African American in our 25 different markets. In this role, I am the organization’s liaison to the Cleveland, Akron and Canton markets. I do everything from help shape the thematic direction of an edition and nominate honorees to producing an annual book unveiling event. This position is important because it puts value on that English degree. It shows organizations that I can do more than the perceived “sitting around playing with words all day.”     

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

First and foremost, I focused on the learning the craft. I stayed engaged in projects or with professors. That helps connect you to opportunities or at least obtain a great recommendation letter. I worked on the college newspaper and other literary publications on campus. In hindsight, I should have done more off campus internships early and as often as possible.

“...An English degree alone today is not enough. It is an excellent foundation, but you’ll need to couple it with something technical or be an out-of-the-box thinker to make yourself more marketable. You can no longer think of yourself as just a writer.”

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

You may realize it or not, but your English degree gives you an advantage. You can do more than what you imagine with an English degree once you understand its value and how to use it. As an English major, you are extremely creative and an analytical thinker. You can solve problems most are unable detect. At the same time, an English degree alone today is not enough. It is an excellent foundation, but you'll need to couple it with something technical or be an out-of-the-box thinker to make yourself more marketable. You can no longer think of yourself as just a writer. You'll need to know how to do other things. You also need to understand, whether you like it or not, you are in business and you must think of what you do as such. You sell words, at the least. Learn how to put a value on what you do and don't be afraid to demand it.

To learn more about Rhonda Crowder visit www.rhondacrowderllc.com. She can also be found on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instragram.  You can find articles by Rhonda at www.rhondacrowder.contently.com


Posted on July 14, 2016 and filed under Interview, Interviews, Journalism, Writer, Writing, Publishing.

Abigail Fleming: Production Editor

Name: Abigail Fleming

Age: 23

College: College of Charleston 

Major: English Language & Literature

Minor: Linguistics

Current Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Current Form of Employment: Full-time Production Editor

Where do you work and what is your current position?

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
$38.73
University Of Chicago Press

I work for Arcadia Publishing, under The History Press imprint, as a production editor. Arcadia Publishing is the largest publisher of local history books in the country, so I get to travel vicariously through the books I edit and proofread. My projects range from true crime, culinary trails, and ghost stories to transportation history (people really love trains), and it is my job to see manuscripts through the various stages of production, up until they are ready to go to print. I spend my days elbow-deep in the Chicago Manual of Style, discussing the finer points of our house style with authors, and spiraling down fact-checking wormholes. I love it. Reading has always been my hobby, and now I get paid to do it, albeit not always about topics of my choosing (trains, anyone?).

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

After I graduated, I was still unsure of what I really wanted to do. I knew teaching wasn’t for me, yet I found myself working as the administrative assistant for a department of the local school district. I was getting restless after about six months, only doing the occasional freelance copy job (paid and volunteered), so I started looking at all of the publishing-related companies and positions in the area, only to find out that there were (and are) actually quite a few of them. After about a month or so of furious resume writing and innumerable cover letters, I landed interviews with Arcadia and the in-house publication for a local teaching hospital. Honestly, I had applied for administrative positions in addition to the jobs I actually wanted, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they wanted me for my degree. 

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

My godfather is a historian and has a website that focuses on esoteric American history. I have always copyedited his articles, so when he told me he was writing a book, I was excited. When he told me that he wasn’t going to hire a professional editor, I almost panicked. With my impending graduation, and a publication date, I had a hectic last few undergraduate months, but together we created a product that I know helped get me my current position, because I really wasn’t that experienced outside of the classroom, with the exception of an editorial internship that consisted of blogging, tweeting, and occasional copyediting.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

My school’s English department had an internship course that helped students find internships with various local businesses and receive credit hours for the work completed. I knew I needed experience in my field, not only because I needed to improve my professional people skills, but also because I wasn’t precisely sure what I wanted to do with my degree. I ended up working in the editorial department of a then-new food magazine, and it was a rewarding experience (free cake and recipes from fantastic chefs) in that I learned what I did and did not like (like: cake, dislike: deadlines) in that particular industry.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

I would advise every English major to read and write for fun. Academic writing is like riding a bicycle; once you know how, you can always whip up an annotated bibliography, but creativity has to be cultivated constantly. And volunteer! Internships are imminently useful, but sometimes finding meaningful ones can be tough. Whatever your interests are, there’s likely a number of websites, publications, and organizations devoted toward them.  

You can connect with Abigail on LinkedIn here; also, check out her work on StrangeHistory.org and AmericanKillers.org


Posted on May 20, 2016 and filed under Editing, Interviews, Interview, Publishing.

Dan Jolley: Self-Employed Freelance Writer

Name: Dan Jolley

Age: 44

College & Majors/Minors:b University of Georgia, BA in English

Current Location: Ringgold, Georgia

Current Form of Employment: Self-Employed Freelance Writer

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work from home—I'm self-employed—and my current position alternates between "on the treadmill" and "on the couch." I write in both locations, though; I have a walking desk set up, where I plod along at 2 miles per hour and type, and on a good day I do about 5000 words and about 15000 steps. That works best for prose, though. If I'm doing non-prose, such as a comic book script or a screenplay or dialogue for a video game, more often than not I wind up on the couch. Usually with one or more cats on me.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I got my first professional writing contract at age 19, after I met a girl in a video arcade and asked her out. On our first date I told her I wanted to be a writer, and that I'd written a number of short stories, and she asked if I'd ever considered writing comic books. I hadn't, but I'd grown up reading them, and I told her as much. She said, "Well, I know a couple of comic book artists. Want me to introduce you?" I told her yes, yes I would like that very much, and she introduced me to Tony Harris and Craig Hamilton. I ended up working with Tony for about the next ten years on various comics projects, one of which got nominated for an Eisner Award, the comics industry's equivalent of an Oscar.

From there I branched out into licensed-property novels, movie novelizations, original young adult novels, some manga-format novel tie-in comics, some children's books, and video games. 

I've been writing more games than anything else for the last several years, but that's about to change, because on May 13 of this year, my first original novel for adults is coming out from Seventh Star Press. It's called Gray Widow's Walk, the first book in the Gray Widow Trilogy. It's the story of Janey Sinclair, a teleporting vigilante in contemporary Atlanta, Georgia, who must face a grotesque, vicious, possibly extraterrestrial enemy.

Then, on October 18, the first book in my new Middle Grade novel series, Five Elements, debuts from HarperCollins. Set in modern-day San Francisco, it's the story of four twelve-year-old best friends who become bound to the magical elements of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water, and have to try to stop a century-old, hideously evil magic user from dominating the world.

Dying Light - PlayStation 4
Warner Home Video - Games

So I guess I'm a little more novelist than game writer now. Well, this year, anyway.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

In 2014 I was fortunate enough to land a job coming up with dialogue, scenarios, and characters for the first-person parkour-vs-zombies video game, Dying Light.

While working on the game, I got to live in Wrocław, Poland for three months, since that's where the developer, Techland, is located. It was a fantastic experience. I got lots of exposure to a culture I might never have otherwise known, made some fantastic friends, and ate way more pierogies than I probably should have. Dying Light went on to sell a bit north of five million copies, so now I can realistically say that my words have reached people all over the world. 

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

College is about a lot more than taking classes. It's a chance to test the adulthood waters without committing a hundred percent, and at least in my view, is an excellent time to make mistakes. (One of the best bits of wisdom I ever heard was, "The older you get, the higher the stakes are when you screw up.") I made a lot of mistakes in college, from partying too much, to making terrible relationship decisions, to endangering a few true, solid friendships. The key there is to learn from those mistakes, because living life and gaining experience will help your writing every bit as much as mastering your command of language. Not much good comes of being a brilliant writer if you've got nothing to write about. (It helps, I've found, to have friends with terribly sordid pasts.)

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Well, this advice is for those who want to be writers, because I got my start as a writer before I left college and haven't ever truly tried to do anything else. But here it goes: absorb as much knowledge as you can, both in class and out. Make as many friends as you can. Listen to as many stories as you can, from many different types of people. Take as many creative writing classes as possible, to be sure, and learn as much as possible from your professors. But be aware, keenly aware, often painfully aware of the world around you, because that's where your stories will come from. Sometimes you'll witness whole sequences of events that you faithfully transcribe; sometimes you'll hear other people's accounts, with which you can then take artistic license; sometimes you'll catch just a scrap of conversation or an image glimpsed from the corner of your eye that will spark an original idea. As Stephen King puts it, when you're a writer, "Everything is grist for the mill."

“Also—and saying this got me in hot water when I spoke to some creative writing students at NC State a few years ago, but it’s one hundred percent true—do not, under any circumstances, expect your degree to get you work by itself.”

Also—and saying this got me in hot water when I spoke to some creative writing students at NC State a few years ago, but it's one hundred percent true—do not, under any circumstances, expect your degree to get you work by itself. Use the knowledge you gain as you earn the degree, certainly, but the degree itself is... I wouldn't say worthless, because you learn so many invaluable things while you're getting it. It's just that the credential itself is inconsequential. I've been a professional writer for twenty-five years now, and no editor or publisher or producer has ever, not once, asked me about my education. They don't care. It doesn't come up. The all-important question is, "Can you write, or can you not write?" That's the only thing that matters.

Check out DanJolley.com, follow Dan on Twitter, and check out his Facebook page