A First-Timer’s Perspective

When I got my undergraduate degree, rather than a sense of accomplishment, I felt a bit lost. I had no real direction or idea of what to do with the rest of my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books, and I found the idea of being a professional storyteller immensely appealing. But as I began to investigate what that would entail, I found myself somewhat at a loss as to how to gets one’s work published in the first place. And so I turned my focus to publishing.

When I first started considering the Book Publishing master’s program, I didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect. Publishing doesn’t get the same amount of media attention devoted to it as, say, journalism, or even authorship (there aren’t very many films about struggling publishers who finally get their big break), and as such, I was mostly in the dark as to the actual day-to-day goings-on inside a publishing house. Luckily, Portland State University’s publishing program and Ooligan Press have been nothing if not informative. One of the first lessons I learned was that I needed to “de-mystify” my perception of what publishing professionals are like. While everyone is professional and hardworking, I was pleasantly surprised at how warm and friendly everyone involved in the program is. All these people have the same drives and passions that I have, which have led them to the same place, and more importantly, they are more than happy to help and answer any questions.

The next thing I came to realize was how much of a hybrid business publishing really is. Before I joined the program, I assumed publishing to be a business much like any other, with two divisions at most: the editing side and the monetary side. After a few weeks of classes, I was quickly disavowed of that notion. Publishing is less of a monolith and more of an umbrella, encompassing a wide range of disciplines, including editing, proofreading, marketing, social media, author and agent relations, and yes, there’s even a monetary side.

The thing that surprised me the most about the publishing business was just how enjoyable the whole process is for me. Sure, like any other job, there’s stress, deadlines, and even the occasional boring or busy work, but on the whole, the work is rewarding, the people are friendly, and for the first time in my academic career, I can envision myself doing this for the foreseeable future and being happy. I’ve been an avid reader ever since I first picked up a book, and I’ve been writing stories for decades, but for the first time, I feel I have a real insight into the processes involved in getting a book from manuscript to fully-published form. It’s been such a short time, and I already feel well on my way to the future. And if this is what I’ve managed to learn after only two terms, I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

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