Aug 19 2010

Job Advice for Publishing Applicants

Published by at 1:41 am under Publishing Industry,Publishing Jobs

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

1.  Proofread everything you send out for a publishing job ridiculously hard.  Almost every publishing job requires immaculate writing skills, and professionals don’t have enough time to exhaustively proofread everything written by interns.   So you need to demonstrate that you write well enough to impress a publisher that lives or dies based on the quality of its writing.  (Pretty much every company takes its writing seriously, but especially publishers).

2.  Make it clear that you can reliably complete tasks without constant oversight. For example, use your cover letter and/or resume to describe a significant professional project you completed to your supervisor’s specifications without much prompting or direct supervision.  An intern that can’t remember to complete responsibilities without constant reminders is probably a net liability.

3.  Self-starters are always more desirable. Since every internship has downtime, companies value interns that will use the downtime productively.  For example, a proactive intern might ask co-workers if they need any help with projects and/or errands or try learning new job skills, etc. (I learned search engine optimization by borrowing reference manuals from our SEO guru).


4.  Tailor your resume to a particular position at a particular company. Make sure that you’re addressing as many of the listed job responsibilities as possible.

5.  Know the company–especially when you’re preparing for the interview. Here are some more tips on interviewing with publishing houses.  Some questions you should expect:

  • “Why would you rather work for us rather than one of our competitors?”  (To see if you’re familiar with the company and whether you’re excited about working there). For example, one distinguishing characteristic of Dark Horse is that it does a lot of licensed properties like Buffy and Star Wars. Its series usually look more stylized (less photorealistic) than Marvel/DC.
  • “Which of our series do you like the best?”  (To see if you’re familiar with their products). Pro tip: each Dark Horse job description mentions Buffy, Hellboy, and Star Wars, so they probably expect you to be familiar with them. For other major Dark Horse series, see this.
  • “Could you describe the job responsibilities to me?”  (To see whether you read the job description carefully).  Pro tip: if you’re doing a phone interview, have the job description in front of you.
  • “Do you have any questions for me?”  (They’re looking to see whether you’re curious and mentally engaged).  Some commonly effective questions include “What do you enjoy most about working here?” and “What sort of challenges will I face?” and “What sort of traits separate somebody that’s pretty good at this job from somebody that’s really good?” 

6.  Be careful to maintain a professional image. Yes, the publisher will check your Facebook account and Google you.  Be polite at all times.  Proofread everything. Don’t use silly fonts.  Etc.

One response so far

One Response to “Job Advice for Publishing Applicants”

  1. CRon 04 Sep 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I’m a wee bit late, but Tor/Forge, the largest SF publishers in the world are looking for interns-
    http://torforge.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/two-editorial-interns-wanted-2/

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