Posts filed under Publishing

Christine Reilly: Author & Teacher

Name: Christine Reilly

Age: 27

College & Majors/Minors: Bucknell - Psychology and English double-major with a Concentration in Creative Writing. I got my MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College.

Current Location: New York, New York

Current Form of Employment: Author and teacher

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I teach fiction and poetry workshops at Sarah Lawrence College and the Gotham Writers Workshop, and my debut literary novel, Sunday's on the Phone to Monday, will be published in April with Simon & Schuster.

Sunday's on the Phone to Monday: A Novel
By Christine Reilly

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

My first job was teaching middle and high school English at the Professional Children's School, a private school in New York City for ballet and modern dancers, Broadway actors, Julliard musicians, and professional athletes.

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

I had a wonderful internship at Tin House, the literary journal. I got to go through the slush pile and give feedback, which was a dream come true—reading all day!

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

In college, I read and wrote all the time. I also kept a diary, which comes in handy now that I'm writing a novel about college students. I also got to experience writing workshop for the first time, which is my favorite place to be. Now as a teacher I facilitate workshop. I love seeing that side of the creative process. There's always such a wonderful energy in the room.

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

It sounds cliche, but I'd say follow your dreams but work tirelessly as you follow them. I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do in college, and I didn't let the naysayers discourage me! I did, however, learn to be unafraid of failure. I didn't have any publishing or teaching connections whatsoever, so I reached out to every literary agent and educator I knew to learn more about a possible career in those fields.

You can visit Christine Reilly's website here

Posted on April 11, 2016 and filed under Writing, Teaching, Publishing, Interviews, Interview, Author.

Judi Ketteler: Freelance Writer

Name: Judi Ketteler

Age: 41

College & Majors/Minors: English Major/Anthropology Minor (B.A. from Northern Kentucky University); I also have an M.A. in English from Miami University of Ohio

Current Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Current Form of Employment: Freelance Writer

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I’ve been self-employed for 14 years. I work as a full-time freelance writer. That’s meant different things throughout the years. At one time, my focus was primarily writing for magazines. Now, I do mostly content marketing writing and copywriting, working for corporate clients (and some small businesses). I’ve been able to successfully support myself through writing all these years! Not only that, my husband is a stay-at-home dad, and for nearly eight years, I’ve been supporting the whole family!

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job.

My first job out of graduate school was a sales job at a trade industry magazine. I found it through a newspaper listing. Searching for jobs online wasn’t really much of a thing yet (this was 1999!). I only took the job because I thought I could work my way into editorial. I HATED the job. I didn’t want to sell banner ads for web sites (remember, this was 1999, and banner ads were all the rage). I only stayed six months. Everything about the job was terrible, except for the people I met! I made friends at that first job that I still have today. So, in the end, something good came out of it!

I started freelancing in 2002, after I got laid off twice in row, six months apart. I had been working as a copywriter at a design firm. I liked the job a lot, but when the economy took a turn for the worst in the summer of 2001, I got laid off. I found another job right away, helping a start-up nonprofit in the tech world with marketing. That job only lasted six months, because after 9/11 happened, the tech world was devastated. Non-profits definitely didn’t have any money!

When I lost that job in spring of 2002, I was 27 years old, and about to buy my first house. I was crushed and had to pull the offer for the house (my layoff literally happened the day after I made an offer)! It turned out to be a blessing, because I was able to take the money that would have been my downpayment, and use it to start freelancing. I had no idea what I was doing at first! I had been writing on the side for the local newspapers. I kept doing that, but then also started pitching stories to national magazines (which paid exponentially better than local publications).

I felt my way along, and soon was writing for many women’s magazines (SELF, Shape, Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Better Homes and Gardens, plus, a smattering of web sites). I also had some agency connections because of my time working for the design firm, so I landed some good freelance copywriting gigs. When the magazine industry took a big hit around 2009 - 2010, I moved away from magazine writing and focused most of my attentions on copywriting. That’s where I am now! I partner with lots of content marketing agencies and web design firms. I have small business clients, too, and I help with everything from social media to branding to advising on web design. I’ve also written a non-fiction book, Sew Retro (2010), and I partnered with a company to co-write another book, The Spoonflower Handbook (2015). I’m currently working with my agent on a young adult novel. 

“It’s been a really great ride so far, and I never imagined that I could make such a good living by writing, including years when I’ve made six figures. I had no idea that ‘freelance writer’ was a job when I was in school.”

It’s been a really great ride so far, and I never imagined that I could make such a good living by writing, including years when I've made six figures. I had no idea that “freelance writer” was a job when I was in school. I didn’t really have any model either. I just made it up as I went along, and found the resources and mentors I needed as I went. 

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

I mentioned that I worked as a copywriter at a design firm. That was a really crucial thing, because it’s how I learned the ropes of copywriting. The only writing experience I had coming out of grad school was academic. So, I knew a lot about 19th century women’s fiction, but I didn’t know much about how to write for everyday consumers. I had to learn by doing. Copywriting really is an art. Not all “good” writers can do it. You have to set aside ego and figure out how to clearly communicate to a target audience. I learned to do this by working at that design firm. I never could have freelanced without learning those basics!

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

Honestly, I wasn’t much concerned with preparing for post-grad life when I was in college, or graduate school for that matter! I concentrated on learning as much as I could, and getting as much out of every class that I could! Looking back, I can see all kinds of ways that I was building skills in college. For example, deadlines! In my world, I wouldn’t get repeat work from clients if I didn’t know how to meet deadlines. In college, I learned the importance of turning papers in on time—and that skill has served me well! 

Also, the ability to research, to follow a footnote or a thread of something—that curiosity has taken me to some fantastic places, professionally-speaking. I had such great professors in college. They encouraged me to follow my interests and work on developing my own ideas about books, characters, theories, etc. I still use the critical thinking and discernment skills I learned by reading texts and criticism (and then writing about texts and criticism). Critical thinking is a big part of any story or project: knowing what to include (and why), what to leave out, what to edit, when to dig deeper into, when to push back, etc. 

“No time is ever wasted if you are learning new things. Sometimes it’s a seemingly small thing, but you never know how it may play out in your career!”

In terms of the craft of writing, my college and grad school classes definitely taught me the importance of voice. One of my strengths as a writer is my voice—specifically, my ability to craft the right voice for the project. How could I have learned that if hadn’t been exposed to such a diversity of voices, from Virginia Woolf to Herman Melville?

I think there is a social aspect, too: learning to have intelligent, respectful discussions with peers. I was very shy in college, so I probably didn’t really bloom in this area until graduate school. But the ability to contribute to discussions in a thoughtful way—that’s been so important in my career, and it’s helped me network and develop really key business relationships.

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

You may stumble upon the perfect job right away, or, like me, it may be a series of stops and starts, and then a bit of luck and timing and going for it. Try to take something from each experience. No time is ever wasted if you are learning new things. Sometimes it’s a seemingly small thing, but you never know how it may play out in your career! Also, do as much networking and connecting with other people as you can. I’m talking face to face conversations! I love social media (especially LinkedIn), and have made quality connections that way, of course. But never underestimate the power of showing up in person and having a good conversation. Sometimes, I think I owe the success of my career to my ability to have a really good conversation with someone.

You can see Judi's work on her website,

Posted on February 17, 2016 and filed under Writing, Freelance, Copywriting, Journalism, Publishing, Self-Employed.

Deb Caletti: Author

Name: Deb Caletti

Age: Real life: 51. In my head: 37. On bad days: 14.

College & Majors/Minors: Communications/Journalism

Current Location: Seattle

Current Form of Employment: Writer

Where do you work and what is your current position?

Officially: Award-winning author and a National Book Award finalist whose books, He's Gone; Honey, Baby, Sweetheart; The Last Forever; The Secrets She Keeps are published and translated worldwide.  

Unofficially: I work at home in my pajamas, writing books for adults and young adults. I have to put on real clothes when I go on tour.    

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

Being a writer isn't exactly a job you "find." It sort of found me, when I was about seven. It never left. After having various jobs and then two children, I got serious about the dream and the craft of writing. Since I studied journalism, I had only taken one creative writing class in my life. I was an avid reader, however, and all the books I ever read - good and bad - were my teachers (and still are). I wrote one book and was able to get an agent. Four books later, we got a three-book publishing deal with Simon & Schuster that launched my career.

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

I worked for an adult education company, and did quite a lot of PR-related writing.

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

Read lots and lots of books. Had life experiences that I could bring to my later fiction. Practiced writing stories and plays. Got encouragement for those stories and plays, even though they seem pretty silly now. Tried to be bold. Experienced rejection and realized I could live through it.

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

Try to determine what it is that you love. Do that. 

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
By Deb Caletti
The Last Forever
By Deb Caletti
The Secrets She Keeps: A Novel
By Deb Caletti
He's Gone: A Novel
By Deb Caletti

You can learn more about Deb via her FacebookTwitter, and Google+ pages. You can also find out more about her works on her Wikipedia page and her website,

Posted on April 6, 2015 and filed under Writing, Publishing.

Ariel Price: Associate Editor at Corwin

Name: Ariel Price

Age: 25

College & Majors/Minors: Bachelor of Arts, English Literature

Current Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

Current Form of Employment: Associate Editor, Corwin

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work at Corwin, a K-12 professional development provider, as an Associate Editor. In my role, I manage our educational technology list. This involves acquiring new books, project managing the books in development or production, working with authors to develop their manuscripts, conducting peer reviews of manuscripts, doing market research, and working with our sales & marketing team so that they know the authors and the content of our books. I also manage the company blog, Corwin Connect.

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

After college, I did a variety of internships at publishing houses and an editing company. I knew that I wanted to be in publishing, but I wanted to stay in California. SAGE, Corwin’s parent company, was the only publishing company within about six hours of where I grew up. I applied there a handful of times before I was called to interview for an Editorial Assistant position at Corwin. I had to go through about seven interviews, but I got it! A year later, I was promoted to Associate Editor.

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

My career really started with Corwin, but the internships that I did after college were invaluable in helping me decide what I wanted to do. Even though I had the same title as “Editorial Intern” at each internship, I completed such different tasks that I got a wide range of experience.

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

In college, I was a research assistant for one of my English professors and an officer in our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. I also did some student teaching, which helped me decide what I did NOT want to do!

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

Take some time to learn skills that interest you outside of your major. For example, if you think you might want to be in publishing, take some business or marketing courses as well—since book publishing is a business, after all! There are also a lot of writing jobs for websites or blogs, so it might be worth it to take some web design or coding classes. Having those extra skills could make the difference between you and another job candidate.

Discover more of Ariel's writing on her website, You can also connect with Ariel on LinkedIn and Twitter


Gary Luke: President & Publisher of Sasquatch Books

Gary Luke: President & Publisher of Sasquatch Books

Nicole Wayland: Freelance Copyeditor & Proofreader

Nicole Wayland: Freelance Copyeditor & Proofreader

Ashley Sapp: Freelance Writer/Editor & Administrative Coordinator

Ashley Sapp: Freelance Writer/Editor & Administrative Coordinator

Posted on March 31, 2015 and filed under Publishing.

How One Writer’s Instagram Scored Her a Book Deal

Alicia Cook was one of the very first people we interviewed for Dear English Major, and less than one year later, she's got herself a book deal! Entranced—her book of poetry—will be available for purchase on February 17th, 2015 by Underwater Mountains and will be carried by 13 retailers (including Barnes & Noble) in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. 

Alicia was kind enough to take the time to tell us all about her upcoming release, what led to it, and more:

Entranced  features four different covers, all designed by Alicia. 

Entranced features four different covers, all designed by Alicia. 

Thank you for taking the time to share your upcoming poetry book with us. Why don't you just start out by telling us a bit about your book Entranced.

Alicia Cook: Thank you for even wanting to hear about it! It's very surreal. If you told me less than two years ago when I started sharing my writing publicly that I would have a book deal today and be a contributing writer with two major online blogs, I wouldn't believe it. It has always been a dream of mine, but I thought it was more of a pipe dream. I have been writing creatively since I was eight years old and I studied English in college, so it's a dream come true.

I recently signed a book deal with Underwater Mountains Publishing, an independent publisher based out of Los Angeles. They are a force of nature. They took on a lot of “Instagram writers" and have really been amazing during this whole process. Entranced is a book of poetry comprised of 100 never-before-seen poems as well as a bunch of my favorite pieces that I have already shared on Instagram.

I named it Entranced because the definition of the word is "fill someone with wonder and delight, holding their entire attention." And I really hope my words hold that power… to captivate someone, to SPEAK to someone. I don't want someone to read my book, and just put it down after without taking at least one special thing away with them. The best part of my day is when a complete stranger messages me and "thanks me" for writing something that they "needed" to read at that very moment to help them through whatever they are going through. That means the world to me.

What inspired you to begin sharing your work on Instagram?

Alicia: In 2012 after Hurricane Sandy, I wrote "An Open Letter to the Shore Kids" that went viral. At the bottom of the article, I just happened to include my email and Instagram name, @thealiciacook. Next thing I knew, I had strangers from all over the country emailing me to share their shore memories and following me on Instagram. The piece had resonated with them. I responded to every single email and comment I received on the piece.

One of the people who emailed me was a hip chick from Oregon (Hi Lindsey!). For some reason, I took to her and she really pushed me, whether she knows it or not, to begin sharing my work more regularly… and the rest is history! This boost in readership and confidence has led to other writing opportunities like contributing to Elite Daily and Thought Catalog, as well as my upcoming book.

How did your book deal come about?

Alicia: Basically, Underwater Mountains started signing deals with some popular Instagram writers. One of those writers suggested they check me out. After I heard from them, I formally submitted my work for their review, and I got a call later that day that they were interested.

What tips do you have for other writers who want to share their work on Instagram or other social media platforms?

Alicia: Social media is a powerful tool. I only have Instagram, so I don't want to speak to sharing work on other social media platforms. But when it comes to sharing creativity, be it writing, drawing, singing, calligraphy—you name it—my advice is just to be yourself, be sincere. Do not just try to replicate what "worked" for other artists out there on social media, because it won't work for you, and no one likes a rip-off. Bring something to this creative community that is different, and you will stand out.

Once you start gaining momentum, try to respond directly and personally to every person who may reach out to you. It becomes time consuming, but that interaction and human connection is my favorite part of all this. Stay true to your own voice while still being supportive of other's work as well. Hashtag appropriately. And for God's sake NEVER, EVER steal someone else's creative property.

What has the pre-publishing process been like?

Alicia: I am actually in the pre-publishing phase still! It's been exciting, but also nerve-wracking. I know that when my deadline comes I will need 100+ poems that I am actually PROUD of and stand behind. And I am a perfectionist at times. Every day I re-write the poems, even if it is just changing a word or two. I am having fun titling them. My publishing company has given me freedom to express myself, which I am grateful for. The editors are top notch. I even drew/painted all four of my book covers myself!

What's the plan once your book is published? What will you do to promote it? Will you go on tour?

Alicia: I won't be going on tour. But through Instagram I plan on letting people who might be in the area know when I am going to go to a store and geek out over seeing my book on a shelf. I have some ideas up my sleeve about how to make this even more fun.

Also, most of the other writers signed to Underwater are supportive of one another. We write together, we share one another's work. So their "readers" will occasionally see my name or work on their pages as well, which is awesome. The publisher is the reason the book is even getting put anywhere, physical or online, so I am grateful for whatever they decide to do to push my book as well. Right now I am on their website and Instagram. We will see what the future holds come February 17th!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Alicia: The more I "get to know" other writers on social media, the more I realize that some of the people closest to them—friends, family—do not even know they write! The realization that not everyone has a support system for their passion around them made me take a step back and realize I was taking my family and friend's support of my writing for granted.

My parents never once told me I couldn't achieve my ultimate goal of sharing my words. They bought me my typewriter when I was ten. They supported me when I decided to major in English in college. They never once discouraged me. My mom still prints out all my blog articles and basically forces the neighbors to read them as she stands right next to them. My dad doesn't always "get it" but he gets that other people do. My sister, Kellie, and best friend, Renee, are two of my biggest fans. I could never imagine hiding such a huge part of my being—my existence—from the people I love the most. What I am trying to say here is that the more I travel down this road, the more grateful I am for my family and friends and their unwavering support.


Posted on January 19, 2015 and filed under Social Media, Publishing, Poetry, Writing, Featured Articles.

Ashley Sapp: Freelance Writer/Editor & Administrative Coordinator

Name: Ashley Sapp

Age: 26

College & Majors/Minors: B.A. in English Language and Literature, cognate in Linguistics from University of South Carolina

Current Location: Columbia, SC

Current Form of Employment: Freelance Writer/Editor and Administrative Coordinator

Where do you work and what is your current position? 

My current position is as an administrative coordinator within the Cardiovascular Translational Research Center at USC School of Medicine. I handle a variety of tasks depending on what our team’s Director needs that day, but a large portion of my job involves manuscript management, as he is on the editorial board of numerous peer-review journals. Further, he is quite the writer himself with many publications under his belt, so I help with the proofreading, editing, and formatting of those before the submission process. This particular task set extends into the writing of his grants, as well. Thankfully, there are calculators for the number portion of that because words are about as skilled as I get. Outside of USC, I do freelance work as a writer, blogger, and occasional editor.

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

My first job after college was at a small medical practice of orthopedic surgeons. A friend of mine was working with a physician there, and when she learned that the Research Director needed someone to help with manuscript writing and editing, she passed along my name. It was a part-time gig, but I learned quickly that I enjoyed medical editing. I had always figured my life would contain words, but it was not until my first job that I realized I quite enjoyed reading other people’s work and providing insight where I could. It then becomes a team effort in creating something worthwhile, and that was a rewarding experience for me.

Later, I found myself in a retail position since I needed something that paid more while recovering from a spinal surgery. In the process, I eventually lost sight of what I truly wanted my career to look like. Getting back on my feet both metaphorically and literally meant taking strides in changing where I was. It was slow going for a while because I felt I was chasing a pipe dream—I was questioning my choices, and I found myself believing that I was facing a dead-end before the age of 25. I was on disability from my retail job while recovering from the surgery, paying student loans for a degree I was not using, and spending my sudden plethora of free time in bed thinking about how I haven’t written anything in ages but still feeling too afraid to pick up a pen. I was in pain, physically and mentally, and thus felt drained and defeated.

Towards the end of my disability leave, I dreaded returning to a job I knew was not truly for me. It was a bit of a wake-up call, a moment of clarity after having spent so much time alone with my thoughts and self-doubt. If I wanted my life to change, I had to start somewhere, and I alone had to make it happen. Thus, I began looking into jobs at my university and within my town for anything to do with publishing or writing. I began applying for internships as well because I figured I could continue with a retail position if I was at least building experience in something I enjoyed and went to school for. Many resumes and applications later, I accepted the position I have now. The search began with me asking myself, “What do I want?” and “How am I going to get it?”

How do you find your freelance gigs?

I recently filled out profiles on sites like Elance and really started to apply for offered jobs through them. I have done a lot of guest blogging and guest articles for various online sites as well, which has helped in getting my name out there as a credible source. Sometimes I am asked to proofread or write for others and thus the opportunity comes to me on its own, but most of the time, at least at the stage I am currently in, I have to reach out whether by submitting a proposal for a job or showcasing my portfolio.

Particularly for my writing, blogging has become a major part of networking with other companies and writers. In fact, through blogging is how I met the ladies who run The Indie Chicks; thus, I had my first print article published in the second issue of their magazine, Indie Chick. I have gotten the chance to collaborate with many talented and inspiring people because I started blogging, reading, and commenting on other people’s work. Eventually, they began to do the same for me and suddenly it started to feel as though I had something worthwhile to say (who knew?). So we write, discuss, and share our love for the craft while simultaneously building our expertise. Without really realizing it, blogging and guest blogging became an experience-building way of writing for me. I have to lend credit to the blogosphere quite a bit for aiding me in taking myself seriously as a writer and also providing so many opportunities I never knew had existed before I created my first Wordpress site.

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

In some ways, there is not a complete way to prepare for post-grad life as the experience can vary from one individual to the next. But we all have to start somewhere, and very often, that somewhere involves a bit of flailing in the beginning. What proved to be helpful for me was getting to know what opportunities existed in my town and what I could do to better prepare myself for them.

Post-grads often get stuck in this limbo of being a novice with a degree whereas employers are seeking people with a degree but with experience. I worked on my university’s literary magazine in order to help build towards a better understanding of the way publications work, as one example. Though it was not actual job experience, it was experience nonetheless–something the employers I interviewed with seemed to take notice of. My current boss commented, “You’re green but dedicated.” Taking the time to research your interests, to teach yourself the things you're unfamiliar with, and to put in the effort for both your life and career not only demonstrates passion within your interviews with potential employers, but it also helps to ease your way into post-grad life in general.

One of Ashley's poems.

One of Ashley's poems.

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

There are a lot of people out there who believe an English degree is useless for a number of reasons. I suppose it is because there is this stereotype that all we do is cuddle with said degree, comforting ourselves while clutching it tightly, repeating to ourselves lines of Jane Austen or Shakespeare or a Bronte sister, while sitting alone in our parents’ basement with no job offer in sight. Sure, a love of literature is often involved in our choice of degree, but anyone who truly thinks an English degree is impractical has not really thought about language itself: any set or system of symbols used in a more or less uniform fashion by a number of people, who are thus enabled to communicate intelligibly with one another. Without that, where would any of us be? So my advice to those of you facing naysayers (including yourself at times) is to continue believing in your path and your abilities because without you, without someone who has a love and understanding of words, communication would begin to break down. Whether you decide to teach and pass along how we use this beautiful thing called language, or you dive into publishing, or you help others write, or perhaps you write yourself, or you understand how to deploy words into advertising, into journalism, into whatever the case may be – you are making a statement and an impact on how the rest of the world, through time or space, will understand us. I’d say that is worthwhile.

One of Ashley's poems.

My last piece of advice would be to not give up, which sounds easy but usually is not. Post-grad life can be pretty grim, regardless of the degree you end up with, but some of that has nothing to do with what you spent your time in college studying. What you can do in the meantime, however, is hone your skills, remind yourself why you chose this path, and create work for yourself. When I initially worked retail, I would come home and journal because it kept the fire going in the pit of my stomach, the burn to wake up each day with the belief I would get to do what I love. Because sometimes it did not feel that way—sometimes life and employment and choices were all disheartening—but as long as I kept writing, kept reading, kept exploring, I was also giving myself another chance at another day.

Even after college is over, you can continue learning. A friend of mine sent me a quote that resonated with me by T.H. White:

“You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

I think it says quite a bit about us when we refuse to let fear or apathy or failure stop us from moving forward. We are naturally reluctant at times, fear the unknown, and yet once the change occurs – once we are falling and seem as though we are meeting our demise – we adapt rather quickly, develop wings, and rise again.

Ashley's blog of usings and creative writings can be found at, and she is also a contributing writer for sites such as Chelsea Krost and The IndieChicks. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn.

Posted on August 31, 2014 and filed under Blogging, Communications, Editing, Freelance, Grant Writing, Publishing, Writing.

Pam Elise Harris: Development Editor & Author

Name: Pam Elise Harris

College & Majors/Minors: Major: Communications Arts and Sciences. Minor: English (last minute decision!).

Current Location: Forest Hills, NY

Current Form of Employment: Development Editor/Author

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I am currently a freelance editor. I development edit novels and educational product. I also copyedit novels and do editorial tasks like art placement or checking Web sites. For development editing, I take a raw manuscript and sculpt it into the final draft that will become the book. This can involve working with authors or freelance editors to guide them in the direction needed. On occasion, it even involved writing. I've worked on a lot of educational Web sites and testing products. I loved writing activities! I loved the challenge of knowing that an activity had to practice this skill and had to be from an activity type that amounts to this many points. With novels, I have delved into the story finding aspects that needed more development, and others that needed to be altered. 

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

My first job in publishing was kind of an accident. I was working as a temp, and I just happened to be assigned to a publishing company. It was one of my first temp assignments where I actually had something to do. They were supposed to get rid of me when the summer intern came in, but I didn't want to leave, and they didn't want to have to find someone else when the summer intern left. So I made my case, and I was there for twelve years. 

I didn't find my current job. It found me. After twelve years of working at my previous company, they decided to discontinue my job. With no other option, I started taking in freelance work.

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

Funny you should ask. I don't really consider this a job, but it is writing related. Back in November 2012, I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time. This was the first time in a very long time that I had committed to writing. That novel will be self-published later this year.

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

This is going to sound bad. Nothing really, which is why I didn't have a job when I got out of college. Always prepare!!

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

Look for opportunities within your chosen field while you are still in college. If you can, do an internship. We had an intern that we liked very much, and he wound up in our freelancer database. We continued to send him work while he was still in school. Internships are a great way to learn practical skills and get your foot in the door. And if you're looking to be a writer, make connections with writer's groups. National Novel Writing Month has community groups on its Web site. They do in-person events. It's a great way to get to know other writers in your area. 

Visit Pam's professional website, connect with her on LinkedIn, and check out her Facebook page!


Spencer Cushing: Assistant Editor @ Dark Horse Comics

Name: Spencer Cushing

Age: 32

College & Majors/Minors: English (Creative Writing), History Minor

Current Location: Portland, OR

Current Form of Employment: Assistant Editor at Dark Horse Comics

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I am an Assistant Editor at Dark Horse Comics. I work with writers and artists to help shape their stories into cohesive comics that entertain. Much of my job is project management at this time as I assist an Associate Editor and an Editor in their projects that they bring into the company. This involves a lot of scheduling, making sure creators meet deadlines, writing creative copy for marketing the books, and building the books with our design and production departments (Cover copy, Copyright materials, Back Cover summary and Hype text, etc).

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

My first job was actually as an Executive Assistant at a Property Management company far from what I wanted to do, but it helped shape my attention to detail and my work ethic. When I moved to Portland I applied to Denver Publishing Institute, participated in the month long crash course in the publishing industry then applied at Dark Horse Comics as an Executive Assistant. I started there for two years to get my foot in the door as I had the right experience. I maneuvered my way within the company to Marketing for two years to get experience there and then made my way into Editing to achieve my ultimate goal within the company.

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

I volunteered with the local Book Festival in Portland called Wordstock. I performed marketing duties with them to build a network of literary relationships within the community.

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

I was lucky enough to run Crosscurrents Literary Magazine as Editor-in-Chief at University of Puget Sound. This gave me the taste of building books, of the whole process of publishing the artifacts of books—printed art—to share with a wider audience. I had to make up a great deal of how the process worked or research it to complete the process. I learned more doing that than any class could have ever taught me. Trial by fire.

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

Get involved. If there are Book Festivals in your area, volunteer to help. If there are literary events or communities, find them and get to know the people running them. Express your interest in what they are doing and see if you can buy them a cup of coffee (the informational interview). Take 15 minutes of their time, have a few questions prepared to help get to know the local scene and the players involved. Send them a thank you card when you're done. If you want to write, or make books, or setup events, just do it. You don't need anyone's permission. Find like-minded individuals via those same literary groups or online communities and build something together. Reach out to authors, poets, journalists, singers and songwriters, editors, agents you like, etc., and find the best possible email for them and introduce yourself. Tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing. You'd be surprised how responsive people will be if you just present your enthusiasm and professionalism.


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Posted on June 8, 2014 and filed under Editing, Publishing, Comics.