In the run up to BookMachine New York, we’re running a set of interviews with publishing professionals connected to the City, with an interesting story to tell.
Amy Rosenbaum is an Editorial Assistant at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. She is a fresh face to the industry after finishing a Publishing course at Columbia University in 2011.
1. What made you decide to pick publishing as a career path?
I was one of those kids who would sneak a book into math class, so being an accountant was out. Luckily, my parents were supportive of my budding bookworm tendencies. My very athletic dad would come to my Battle of the Books competitions like they were Little League Games, and my mom took my sister and me on regular trips to bookstores.
I lived in my school libraries and read voraciously, but I didn’t consider publishing as a career until college. When you’re young, you don’t think about what goes into making a book. Authors write books, and it’s as simple as that. I wasn’t sure I was cut out to be an author, even if I did like to write. I considered teaching or going into academia for a brief period of time. I also completed summer internships in PR and copywriting that were educational, though they didn’t inspire me. Then I found out there were people who shaped stories, and a light clicked on. It was like, “where have you been all of my life?”
2. Working with content for Young Readers must be really interesting. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt at Simon & Schuster so far?
I absolutely adore working in children’s books! I think the stories you read when you’re young stay with you forever. My favorites certainly did.
I’ve learned so much since starting at S&S. Of course, there’s a lot of practical publishing knowledge I’ve picked up as an editorial assistant, but I think the biggest lesson is a more universal one. The most important thing I’ve found is to keep the joy in what you do. I think it’s absolutely vital when creating books for young readers, and it’s not a bad thing to remember for my daily life as well.
3. What advice would you give to anyone looking to break into the publishing industry?
If you want to get into editorial, I have one bit of advice for you. Read! Immerse yourself in words and plots and characters, in every form imaginable. Learn what’s on bookshelves now and learn about the books that came before them. Find out what excites you. The more knowledge you have, the more you can bring to any job.
This industry is incredibly hard to break into, I know! After college, I remember applying to any publishing job I could find and just hoping. I worked as a project manager at an internet start-up for a little under year before I got my break. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the Columbia Publishing Course, and I think they run an excellent program. (Much love, guys!) There are a million paths into publishing and people come from all kinds of backgrounds, though I think the main ingredients to success are passion and persistence. Probably some luck too!
4. How do you keep up with industry news?
For breaking news (as much as there is breaking news in publishing), there’s nothing better than Twitter. The speed at which information travels is just staggering. Not to mention there are hilarious, smart, talented professionals all having conversations with each other constantly. Oh, and pictures of cute animals if you’re into that. There are more traditional places where I get my information, but Twitter’s my favorite. It’s a wonderful buzzing hive mind.
5. Any personal predictions for the future of publishing for children?
We’re an industry in flux. Publishing as we know it is changing and will continue to change, but there will always be people writing stories and there will always be readers. I’m rooting for the brilliant, caring people who are doing their best for books.
One of the things I find encouraging about children’s books is that parents still want their kids to have the physical reading experience. I’m not sure how long we have until we’re all consuming books from chips in our brains, but if you need to find me before then, I’ll be in a bookstore.