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Editors and publishers- what was your major?

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I've heard that English is too broad and journalism is dying. Are these true? What did you major in to become an editor or publisher? I intend to major in psychology, but I am looking to dual major or minor in some kind of English. Can I still get a career as a publisher or editor if I just minor in an English?
#english #college-major #major #editor #publisher

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Nadina’s Answer

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I'm an editor with 10 years of book publishing experience, and I majored in English. In the book publishing world, that's what almost all of us majored in. There are a handful of journalism majors, with other humanities degrees behind that; however, I'd say more people with journalism degrees end up in magazine, news, or marketing.

In truth, I think publishing is the sort of space where any sort of major will serve you well if you're smart about what you do while you're in school. As you study, build the skills you need for a life in publishing. You probably won't write literary analyses of Jane Austen, but you will have to write, learn how to tailor your content for specific markets, and think critically. Develop your voice. Build your research skills. Get good at time management. Be very organized, since you'll be doing a lot of grunt work in any sector of publishing before you get somewhere. Network. Learn how to analyze the data. Learn how to let go; as an editor, my writers do a lot of things I wouldn't personally do; you have to learn when to live with someone else's style. You absolutely must get an internship under your belt, more if you can. I always recommend that you work in a writing center. If you can't work in a writing center, tutoring helps immensely. If you can flesh these things out of your major, you'll be solid for a career in publishing--and in a lot of other things too.

Good luck!

Nadina recommends the following next steps:

  • Ask yourself what sector of publishing you want to go in; news and magazine are very different from book publishing
  • Get a job tutoring, though working at a writing center is much better
  • See if you can work with a blog or with your local library to get a taste for how you like the work
  • Intern, intern, intern
  • Think creatively about your major; the point of the major isn't to mold you into who you need to be. The point of your major is for you to have a jumping off point so that you can mold yourself into who you need to be by focusing on the skills you need to develop and translating them into hireability
This is very helpful. Thank you! Ray K. Translate
I'm glad! Please reach out if there's more I can help with. Nadina P Translate
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Keri’s Answer

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While I can't offer direct feedback regarding majors for publishers, I can offer some perspective to your question. My husband was a journalist major in college as he felt the field of communications offers a good foundational skillset that is applicable for all jobs. While he is not a journalist today, he did work in fields such as public relations and content writer/editor for web/phone apps. Having a major or experience in psychology plus communications can also open up other opportunities (e.g., website user interface/user experience design) that leverages skillsets and knowledge of human behavior and communicating in a clear way.

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Allison’s Answer

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I was a Journalism major with a Statistics minor. Both have been helpful indirectly, the former in developing my writing skills and letting me learn about interesting people and ideas, and the latter for running sales numbers and interpreting and sharing data, also a big part of my job. Most people in my department had writing-centric majors, but they ranged -- English, Journalism, Political Science, Creative Writing, Art History. Much more important is getting an internship and/or office experience and bookstore experience.

Allison recommends the following next steps:

  • Get an internship in publishing before you graduate
  • Work part-time at a bookstore or library
  • Read a lot of CURRENT books, not the ones you'd study for class
I intend to put an emphasis on creative writing in my English courses. I will have to take statistics for psychology. I currently do work part-time at my local library, and when I have time I read. It looks like I am on the right track. Thank you! :) Ray K. Translate
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