Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are You New? The Young to Publishing Group

I moved to New York and became an editorial assistant in 2000. Luckily, that was the same year the AAP (American Association of Publishers) started the YPG, the Young to Publishing Group. Apparently a lot of people move to New York to be an editor, but quit and leave within five years. That's not very efficient and the AAP wants more of their young people to stick around, so they have a Recruit and Retain department, and the YPG was their brilliant brainstorm.

Initially I went to the Brown Bag Lunches. These were all at HarperCollins in my day, and they had Big Name speakers (Publishers, Vice-Presidents, Department Heads) talk about their own early days in the business and how they got where they are now. Personally, one of the most interesting and funny was a woman from my own company, Alison Lazarus, who talked about her first job at Playboy Books! It was amazing and inspiring to see hear these Important Publishing Figures deign to talk to us little people, and it did make me think that maybe one day I could be one of them.

Not only did I learn a lot at these Brown Bag Lunches, but at one of them I met a cute boy (assistant editor at Harcourt), and we dated all summer (it can happen ladies)! After several months of going, I got an intriguing email - my regular attendance had been noted, and because of my obvious interest in the YPG, I was being invited to join The Board.

Wow, that was so cool! As the YPG at the time was still in formation, I got to decide in which way I wanted to help and pick my title! I was co-chair of New Chapters. We started chapters in Boston and San Diego. We planned events, socials, reached out to speakers, went to book-related plays (like Wicked), and gossiped. I made friends at S&S, Harper, Penguin, and several other publishing houses. At least a half-dozen of these friends I am still friends with! Naturally, since I am no longer in New York, most of them I keep up with via Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs, but YPG gave me lifelong friends and business contacts - which is precisely what it is designed for. Oh, and did I mention that it is free? I know how much publishers pay assistants!

You need to network. It doesn't matter what department you are in, but if you are new to publishing, you need friends! You need to be able to commiserate, gossip, network, and also have friends to go out with who are on similarly terrible budgets. If things go south at your current job - new boss, layoffs, change in direction, imprint eliminated - you need people you can call on who can help you get interviews, tell you about jobs before they're listed, and act as references. Also, being involved in an organization dedicated to helping improve your career is a good thing to list on your resume. You don't have to join the Board (unless you want to!) but there are tons of fun things. Here's what I find on their website currently:

-Book to the Future: Enhanced E-Books

-You Can Read a YA Book on the Train

-What the Critics Are Saying: A Discussion of Book Reviews

-Are You a Twit If You Don’t Tweet?

-I Can Has Book Deal?!

-YPG Cares Supports Read Across America Day

-BEA on a Boat Party

-YPG Hosts Inaugural House Party to Celebrate the National Book Awards

Man, I wish I could still go to YPG events! Of course, I've now been in the book business much longer than 5 years, not to mention I am not in NYC. But I am thrilled I was able to be a member while I was there. And all newcomers to the industry should join. It gave me a great start.


Caroline Starr Rose said...

What a great program!

ginaisabel said...

Wow, I wish I'd known about YPG when I was starting out (though I guess since I've only been in for one year, I'm sort of still starting out!). I'm hoping new events get posted on the YPG website soon, this sounds like a really great opportunity!