Thursday, March 8, 2007

Development Editor (at a Small Publisher)

So I went from a large conglomerate to a small, family owned publisher that specialized in a very small niche: books about how to find a job.

I was once again editing text for content and structure (adding headings and sculpting text into reader-friendly elements). But there was a twist: Suddenly, I was asked to write the actual cover copy and direct the cover design. I was at a loss for the first few projects because I'd never had to look at graphic design with a critical and sales-oriented eye. "Looks great to me!" I'd say. But I trained myself to have educated opinions about covers. So now I say stuff like "That spine doesn't pop, the photo won't appeal to the target audience, and the font is horrid!" (Only in a nice way.)

I found myself getting more involved with workbook-type products as well as assessments. We also produce videos and software, so I learned a bit more about those products as well.

In the summer of 2000, my boss, his boss, and her boss all left suddenly (for different reasons). So then there was a leadership hole above me three layers deep. We went for over a year without a boss or an acquisitions editor. So we were quickly running out of things to edit. So my coworker and I decided to start being acquisitions editors, too. Later we were officially promoted to the roles.


Aren said...

I am currently researching alternative career possibilities and was directed to your blog. While reading, I discovered that I grew up around the same area that you are from and noticed some other similarities as well. I am currently a teacher, but was wondering if you could provide me with some suggestions on how I could get from where I am to a career in publishing. Thank you for your time.

L. C. Hand said...

Hi Aren,

I just now read your comment on my blog. I've been neglectful of it this week--hope you didn't think I was ignoring you! So, where are you from?

What subject do you teach, or what grade level? The good news is that we love teachers in publishing. We've had two former teachers in our editorial department, and they have both been great. Plus, they have been happy to learn that publishing pays a little better than teaching, depending on your situation!

Here is my best advice for you: textbook publishing. Many of these jobs require teaching experience. Check out companies like Thomson, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and even EMC/Paradigm (the new owner of my employer). After I hear what subject you teach, I can keep an eye out for jobs that would fit you (my husband works at Pearson and has access to the Higher Education job postings).

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Melanie said...

I am a high school English teacher and I am considering a change of career to publishing. However, I haven't got a clue as to where to start. Reading l. c. hand's blog to Aren was insightful. When I was in high school and college, I dreamed of a career in publishing, but I got sidetracked along the way.

Lori Cates Hand said...

Hi Melanie!

I'm glad to have helped you! If you want more specific advice for your situation, feel free to e-mail me at

Good luck!