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Advice for Publishing Interns
and Aspiring Editors

I get at least four calls per month from some young (and ignorant) person inquiring about becoming an editor for my company. I do understand. When I was fresh out of college I was equally ignorant, not understanding precisely what information I needed to acquire in informational interviews. Now, from the other side of the hiring desk, I wish someone would ask me what I'm looking for in an employee. So simple, just ask a few publishers, then you'll know how to approach other publishers (that is, if one of the publishers being interviewed wasn't so impressed by your initiative that you've already been hired).

What I'm looking for an employee:

Surprise, surprise, most companies don't need someone to select what manuscripts that company will publish (or at least, they don't need a neophyte to spend their money). I know, I sound grumpy, but I need someone who will:

1) pick and pack and ship books
2) process orders
3) answer the telephone and return messages
4) set up booksignings and organize my travel information
5) run credit cards
6) file stuff
7) file stuff where it really belongs (can you guess what my last assistant didn't do?)
8) check for orders online
9) balance the checkbook
10) take deposits to the bank
11) find the phone number for the author I want to talk with
12) write out checks for me to sign
13) lay out Word documents in Pagemaker
14) edit a manuscript
15) proofread
16) send faxes
17) write publicity releases
18) assemble press kits
19) track review copies given away
20) think of ways to promote Gemstone's books

And maybe, just maybe, evaluate new manuscripts, after learning what my company publishes and why.

The day someone calls and tells me they'd like to make my life easier by handling the administrative details is when I'll fall into my chair in amazement. And if he or she is any good at it, guess who's going to be first in line to be an editor someday (or at least learn a ton about publishing while working for me).

Suzanne P. Thomas
Gemstone House Publishing

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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