Monday, October 1, 2007

Krisan Matthews: Editorial Assistant and Permissions Editor, American Dietetic Association

Today we meet Krisan Matthews, editorial assistant at the American Dietetic Association in Chicago. I met her through this blog and am thrilled to share with you her experiences in association book publishing, yet another type of publishing with great promise.

How did you get your job? What education, experience, and skills do you have that made you a good candidate?

I found my job approximately a year after I finished college. I had been searching for an entry-level position in publishing and nothing seemed to be coming along. But then one day, I applied for the position of Editorial Assistant after seeing it posted on CareerBuilder. Shortly thereafter I received a call from the HR department. I came in for two interviews and then was offered the job. I think the fact that I had my Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature definitely helped me to land this job. I had also taken courses in college on editing for print and had experience using the Chicago Manual of Style. I also believe that being a good writer is a very important trait to have in this industry, and my degree in English definitely helped me in that respect.

Did you have to take an editing test?

Yes. Usually when you apply for an editorial job within the publishing industry you can expect to take either an editing or proofreading test of some sort. I took a couple of tests that consisted of various proofreading exercises.

What are your job responsibilities and what is a typical day like for you?

Well, there really is no "typical" day for me. Each day is different because my job consists of so many various responsibilities. My job also involves juggling multiple (and often competing) projects and priorities. I provide support to 8 team members, so my days can be very hectic at times. Some of my job responsibilities are administrative, such as distributing mail, scheduling meetings, making copies of various documents and manuscripts. But I also am involved in the editorial process, as well. I work closely with the editors and assist them with such tasks as coordinating manuscript peer reviews, conducting market research, and writing publishing proposals, or what we call "pub packs," which are presented before our publishing committee. Additionally, I serve as the team's reprint permissions editor. This means that when another publisher or an individual wants to reprint our copyrighted material elsewhere (such as another book), they need to seek permission from ADA to do so. I am the person who reviews their requests and then either grants or denies permission for them to reprint our materials. This role involves at least a basic knowledge of copyright law, as well as good interpersonal skills because you have daily contact with various publishing companies and the public.

Tell us about the ADA. What types of books do you publish and how many per year? How many people work in your office?

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. ADA members are the nation's food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.

The Book Publishing team at ADA creates books that are mainly by and for our members. The majority of what we publish is professional reference materials for Registered Dietitians (RDs) on topics such as diabetes and weight management. However, we do publish some client education materials, including CD-ROMs with print-on-demand handouts, brochures, and booklets. We have also partnered with larger publishers (e.g., John Wiley & Sons) to publish consumer books, such as cookbooks. Additionally, we have an online, subscription-based diet manual called the Nutrition Care Manual (NCM). On average, we publish 8-10 new titles per year.

As I mentioned before, our team consists of 9 people, including myself. The positions include the
  • Publisher
  • Manager of Acquisitions and Development
  • Development Editor
  • 2 Production Managers
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Publishing Manager, Electronic Products
  • NCM Sales Manager
  • NCM Sales Assistant/Customer Service Representative

What advice do you have for others who might like to find a job at a professional association's book publishing office?

The advice that I would give someone who is interested in working in book publishing at an association or other non-profit organization is to be prepared to wear many hats because the team tends to be much smaller than at a traditional publisher. This can be a good thing, though, because you get a bird's eye view of the entire publishing process that you wouldn't necessarily get at a traditional publishing company.

What are your favorite blogs and websites for people interested in publishing?

Besides "Publishing Careers," some of my favorite blogs about publishing are

These blogs offer great information about book publishing, as well as the new technologies that are changing the industry.

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