In the last week, I’ve had one email exchange, one tweet exchange and one lunch with young people looking to get a first job as an editorial assistant in children’s publishing. So I thought I would round up what I’ve been saying in a handy How To blog post.
First thing to know: it’s not easy. There are precious few jobs available to start and so many people wanting to do it. So, you’re going to have to stick with it.
My biggest piece of advice is do something. Do something to show your commitment and passion and skills.
I very much believe that one of the reasons I am where I am is because of a volunteer project that I set up with a friend, which went on to launch the careers of fifteen authors (including Hot Key author Richard Masson).
So even more than getting a degree in publishing:
INTERACT WITH THE AUDIENCE
- Build a community of children’s book readers on a blog.
- Run a parent-facing service for book recommendation.
- Work with your local library to set up a Chatterbooks for the age group you are most interested in.
- Create a well-visited Facebook page centered around books
SUPPORT LOCAL BOOK COMMUNITIES
- Volunteer at local book festivals.
- Ask to interview local authors.
- Set up a focus group of you and your friends and do reportable research on YA fiction.
CREATE SOMETHING TO SHOW
- Work with teens to put together an anthology of teen writing.
- Make book trailers for books you love.
- Start a book exchange.
- As much as you can – with publishers, with agents, with app companies or website builders.
- This is easier said than done, but if you have projects – like the ones above – the possibility of getting an internship will most definitely increase.
TIPS FOR APPLYING FOR PUBLISHING INTERNSHIPS
- When applying for internships, don’t phrase your cover letter as all the things you will get out of the experience. You want to help the company; say what you can do for them.
- Research the company and show you know their big books and who they are trying to be. (Just had a great application from someone who clearly knew our social media history.)
- Include all the amazing projects you have set up, as above.
- Absolutely no typos or mistakes.
- Have read lots and lots of children’s books.
TIPS WHILE YOU ARE DOING AN INTERNSHIP
- Do everything you are assigned to do thoroughly, not quickly.
- Listen a lot and write everything down.
- Keep a list of questions that come up to ask at a good time all in one chunk.
- Ask if you can borrow published books to read at home.
This is one of the best jobs in the world, so I wish you much good luck in landing one!
Hot Key Books does have a internship program but, alas, we are fully booked until the end of November. We will take new bookings in about September.
And if you want me to expand on anything, just let me know.