Out in Denver right now, 100 of the best and brightest publishing hopefuls are soaking up gallons of invaluable information on what a job in publishing is like. For 30 years now, the Denver Publishing Institute has served to inspire and educate recent college graduates and career changers on the business—and the joys—of book publishing.
I have recommended this course to all of the job seekers I have counseled. Ironically, I never attended it myself. A UE alum who had attended the institute came to campus to talk it up and I met with him. When I got it out of him that he was working in New York City as an editorial assistant at Harper & Row and making $13,000 a year, and that the institute cost thousands of dollars to attend, I wrote off both the institute and a career in publishing. (That guy since went back to school and became a doctor, so I guess he, too, was bothered by the compensation structure.)
But last year my boss, JIST Associate Publisher Susan Pines, was invited to be a guest panelist at the institute. She came back so full of praise for the knowledge and experience the students gained, that I had to take another look at it. Now I wish that I had gone! "The Denver Publishing Institute is an express lane to a publishing career. Students obtain years of publishing knowledge, experience, and connections in just one month," Sue said.
Yes, it’s expensive. Tuition, room and board, and fees will run you over $5,300. But the lectures and workshops on all aspects of publishing, and the dozens of well-connected guest speakers (not to mention a week devoted to career counseling), are well worth it, if you’re serious about wanting a publishing job and think your resume might be a bit thin.
Before you get there, you’ll have to complete a barrage of homework assignments that are more challenging than my first five years on the job (I have copies of last year's assignments and may put you to work in future posts). The highlight, Sue says, was when the students had to formulate book proposals and “pitch” them to her and the other editors in attendance. The proposals were so well done that she almost wanted to actually give them contracts!
The deadline for applying to next year’s institute will be in late March, with notification of acceptance in April. Admission is competitive and there is no financial aid. But how can you put a price on this kind of experience?