Name: Kim Askew
College & Majors/Minors: Mount St. Mary’s University, M.A. in Humanities with an English Lit Emphasis, California State University Fresno, B.A. in English Lit
Current Location: Los Angeles, CA
Current Form of Employment: Director of Content at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles). Co-author of the Twisted Lit novels from Merit Press.
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I manage all the content for the college’s marketing efforts, such as websites, email campaigns, social media, ads, brochures, blogs, press releases, and the college catalog. I developed and oversee FIDM’s brand strategy and voice/style guide which ensures that all designers, writers, and marketing coordinators stick to our brand attributes and competitive positioning. I directly manage a team of writers, and approve all copy generated by the Marketing department. I also launched an Employee Engagement team to encourage an optimistic and collaborative company culture. We do everything from hosting coffee and Ted Talk viewings to raising funds for charitable organizations. My office is at the college’s main campus in Downtown Los Angeles.
In my spare time, I write (with my friend Amy Helmes) young adult novels inspired by Shakespeare’s plays. Our fourth novel, Puck, came out in November. I love to work in cafes or on the sofa with my dogs, Macbeth and Dolce.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
I don’t remember how I found out about my first job after college, but I can still remember how excited I was on the first day. I was hired at a computer textbook publishing company in the San Francisco Bay Area, and at the time, it truly felt like a dream job to be working in publishing. I had the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk & White’s guides on my desk. I was promoted a few times, and when I left, three years later, I was the editor of computer gaming guides.
I found my current job through my writing partner, Amy. She knew someone who was leaving the position of Writer for FIDM. I was hired as her replacement, and thirteen years later, here I am with a window office and a director title.
Could you share more about the process behind writing and publishing your novels, and how you found other publishing opportunities?
My writing partner and I had finished an entire book and had a rough draft of a second book before we got a publishing deal. A friend of mine knew Jacqueline Mitchard, the author of Oprah’s first book club pick, and she was at the helm of a new young adult imprint. She read our manuscript and offered us a two-book deal on the spot, with a third book deal quickly following. Our fourth book, Puck, is in stores now. In addition to working with Amy, I have my very own noir/detective/sci fi novel that I’m working on and hope to finish by this summer.
Co-writing has been incredibly fun and rewarding. My writing partner and I take turns, writing a chapter each and then editing each other’s chapters. Once we decide on the voice of our narrator, the rest really just flows.
My advice for getting published, whether it’s books or articles, is to submit, submit, submit. If you don’t put your work out there, no one is going to see it and publish it. It’s as simple as that. I have to override my self doubt every time I send something out. Sometimes it’s rejected, and sometimes it’s accepted. I try to remember that most authors, including some of the very best, were rejected numerous times. It keeps me going!
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
As an undergrad, I (unfortunately, perhaps) didn’t spend much time thinking about my career. I was living in the past—and by the past, I mean the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. My mind was happily focused on the literature of those periods and working many part-time jobs to pay the bills. I think all of the part-time work I did, while mostly unrelated to my future writing career, helped me develop a really strong work ethic and also gave me (an extremely shy person, back then) confidence. In grad school, I was already working at FIDM, so I had to juggle school and work throughout.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
If you dream of being a writer, write every day and submit your work often. Be bold (even if you have to fake it) and apply for writing gigs or jobs even if you don’t think you’re “good enough.” You’re probably better and more qualified than you realize. Take every opportunity that comes your way, and be your own best friend. I don’t believe in writer’s block. If you sit down and write, something will come. It might not always be great, but it will be something you can build on. Good luck!