If you’re like me, when you go home for the holidays, your family bombards you with questions like: Why book publishing? What is book publishing? Can you get a job? Isn’t publishing obsolete? There are probably a lot of other questions that they ask you, but have no fear! I’ve created a handy list of responses to these questions.
Questions and Answers
Q: Why book publishing?
- A: Well, dear [insert family member], I didn’t want to be an English teacher and I love books! I want to help people in a different way than teaching them the content. Creating the book lets me shape the content of the book and interact with it, more so than just teaching it. I can help choose which books get published and market them specifically to an audience that needs the book the most.
Q: What is book publishing?
- A: Book publishing is exactly as it sounds. We acquire a manuscript, then we edit, design, and market the book that will be printed out into the world, where it will hopefully make a profit.
Q: Can you get a job?
- A: Many of my professors say it’s going to be hard, but I remain optimistic. (At this point, you could casually pour the rest of the wine into your cup.) Although, I don’t have to work in book publishing; every business needs an editor, designer, or marketer. Through the classes that we take at Ooligan, we get firsthand experience in these positions. In our project teams we edit manuscripts, we design the books and collateral, and we research audiences to market our book.
Q: Isn’t publishing obsolete?
- A: Have you been to a bookstore lately? They are thriving with books, and there are more independent bookstores now than in the past few years. Have you seen books in the grocery store? Bestsellers are sold at grocery stores because people pick them up. Also, have you gone to the movies? 85 percent of them are based off books! Books aren’t going anywhere. Besides, publishing is not just about books—it’s a business with consumers. There will always be readers, therefore there will always be publishers.
Q: I haven’t read a book since high school!
- A: Can I give you a list of books to read? If you enjoy watching movies, find books similar to that genre. For example, if you enjoy fantasy or science fiction movies, try reading
The Lord of the Rings
- books by J. R. R. Tolkien. If you enjoy watching romantic comedies, try
Stupid and Contagious
- by Caprice Crane. There has been a big push in realistic fiction and young adult literature recently, like Nicola Yoon’s
The Sun Is Also a Star
- that just came out and has received positive reviews.
Q: Are you going to move to New York, like everyone else?
- A: No, New York is not the only place that has publishing houses. The Pacific Northwest, especially Seattle and Portland, have a big independent publishing scene. Europe also has a big publishing market. London and areas of France have larger markets as well. For genre-specific publishing houses, like poetry, Minnesota has a good market.
Q: Oh! I just finished my 400-page manuscript, can I email it to you?
- A: Actually, at our publishing house we have an acquisitions department, and you can submit your manuscript for evaluation there. Submitting it online cuts down on killing trees and gives us a chance to have multiple eyes on a manuscript to make a decision.
Q: I just self-published my Taylor Swift fanfiction! I proofread it and had Billy read it too, so that means authors don’t need editors, right?
- A: Self-publishing will not make editors obsolete. Authors still need someone to tell them that their grammar is wrong. Reading your book yourself or having a friend do it is not the same. Editors work hard on manuscripts and know specific styles to help authors shape their story and find misspelled or misused words.
Q: I don’t understand what their problem is. I don’t have an issue finding myself in a book. Does publishing really need more diverse books? Didn’t [insert title] just come out?
- A: Let me tell you why we need more diverse authors and stories. Publishing is very white. The majority of people working in publishing are white. They are not publishing books by diverse authors. When you have diverse employees, you get diverse books. Something has to change and publishing needs to evolve. Everyone deserves to see themselves in a story where they are a hero and are inspired to be whatever they want.
This isn’t everything you could say to your relatives. You can use these suggestions, or you can come up with your own! Use the holidays to inform your lovely relatives about why you chose to do book publishing. It is a great field to learn about and work in. Show that publishing pride!