I had planned to interview my husband for this post, but if I waited for him to get back into the country, it would be July before I wrote this! So I'll tell you what I know about his publishing career (and I've had a ring-side seat for almost 12 years now):
Jason graduated from Wabash College with a double major in Political Science and French. He spent a semester studying in the Great White French-Speaking North of Quebec City, at Universite Laval. He was editor of the college newspaper and worked many years at the photo shop in his hometown.
So upon graduation he signed up with a temp agency, in addition to applying directly to companies. He was placed with a computer book publisher in Indianapolis, in the graphics department. There he cropped digital images of computer screens ALL DAY LONG. For YEARS. Well, maybe a year. Then he got the chance to move into a department called Production Control, where he was the drop-off point for all the text and art pieces that went into the hundreds of books we did every year. He was in charge of quality control and keeping all the files organized. I think he loved rejecting submissions that weren't done right.
One of the departments he interfaced with was the Foreign Rights department, because he would provide files to them for their foreign publishing partners to translate. He made good friends with everyone in the department and waited for his moment to join them. And it came. So now he was responsible for sending files to foreign publishers to translate.
Finally he learned the business well enough to be promoted to Foreign Rights Manager. He was an account manager for book club sales and some accounts in the Middle East. Basically his job was to market titles to foreign publishers and interest them in buying the rights to translate the books into the local languages. He communicated with them by e-mail and by meeting them at book fairs such as BookExpo (more on that in a few weeks--we're going again this year) and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
So now his territory is Eastern Europe. He goes to London every year in March/April, Warsaw in May, and Frankfurt in October for various book fairs. He has been to the Ukraine three times (counting next week) and Russia twice. He's visited Latvia and Croatia, and just got back from a big fat Greek wedding--in Athens.
So it's turned out to be a dream job for him. Pay is surprisingly low, but the benefits are incalculable.