The publishing industry has a reputation for being a bit of a good ’ol boys club at times. So how does one break into this exclusive club? Membership has pros and cons, and by no means have I really sought to break into the upper echelons of the institution, the likes of which more than one lecturer at the Course spoke of when waxing poetic about the golden days of publishing. “That was a time when a girl with a pushcart minibar would make the rounds of the office after five ’o clock.“ (It would seem that nowadays editors and everyone who cares to be one in a major house some day have abandoned draft-drinking at desk, instead favoring to leave the office and “do drinks,” earning big at the second shift: knocking back and networking. )
But for those who want to get a foot in the door—or at the very least, a toe—perhaps nothing can serve you better than becoming familiar with the industry. Know the news and know the names. I have listed some of my go-to resources for publishing news, which if you are planning to apply to a summer publishing program are must-reads before you send in that application! Admissions officers at these programs want to know that you are already interested in the industry and trying to stay up to date on it anyway you can. So, put down your novel, and read up!
Although the lack of the possessive apostrophe in the name bugs me, this is the best source of publishing news I’ve found on the Web. Supposedly written by somebody inside the industry, the Lunch breaks industry news before any other source I’ve found. Subscribe for the daily e-mail to hear about job openings, book deals, and publishing events. There’s the option to pay for the subscription, which will get you an e-mail with more news on book deals, but go with the free one and your lunch will still satisfy your publishing news hunger.
Better organized to me than Publishers Lunch, Publishers Weekly breaks news down into categories: Children’s, Bestsellers, Digital, and more. This is great for someone who knows what area of publishing he or she wants to go into. And of course, Publishers Weekly is home to many book reviews, which will help you to decide on your next read.
With cat in the name, what’s not to like? Meow of the same thing as the two above, but think of it as a winning combination of both: reviews and job postings.
Two great e-newsletters come out of this site. The one “for readers” offers up great reviews, my favorite part of them being the quick, two sentence review summaries offered at the end of them, helping you to decide which reviews (and books) might be worth reading. The “pro” newsletter reports on bookselling, author events, and more of the nitty gritty of publishing industry news. Subscribe to both and you’ll have a well-rounded view of the book business—on both a consumer and corporate level.
Although I don’t read this one much (or really ever), several of my classmates at the Course regularly read IndieBound to discover new books and voices. If you like the idea of being the first person in your circle to read a book and advocate it, this is the site for you. And it supports independent booksellers, which in the age of bookstore extinction is something every reader should be about.
Tip time: There’s a little box on the Columbia Publishing Course online application with a prompt asking you to list the websites you regularly read. Name one or all of these sites in that box (but please, be honest and actually read one first, kid), and I think your chances of acceptance might be a little higher. At any rate, maybe one of these sites could help you find your next job, or at the very least, your next great read.