Denver Publishing Institute & Moving to DC
In July, I drove from Chicago to Denver with my best friend to attend the Denver Publishing Institute, a summer session at the University of Denver dedicated to book publishing. There, I completed editing, marketing, and publicity workshops. I worked on teams to determine how publishable children and young adult manuscripts were; I ate lunch with professionals from all over the country that spoke to our class of 90-or-so students about book contracts, book agenting, cover designs. It was amazing, and all my peers loved to read as much as I did (but, probably even more so. Who knew they existed?).
My three roommates, Annie, Kate, and Marie, were incredible! We would chat in the living room and take weekend trips to go hiking and white water rafting; we went to book trivia and Annie got second in a Spelling Bee contest. Denver wowed us with its calm, beautiful atmosphere.
In August, four short weeks after it began, it ended. We ate our final meal in the same room we ate our first; I finished the day visiting the art museum and eating Indian food with a Georgian friend. She hoped to move to Savannah, already knowing which publisher she wanted to join, but I was less sure. I did not want to go to New York. Though I had already began applying for positions in numerous major US cities, I was going to start by going home.
This time, I made the drive home alone (fourteen hours in one day!). At the program, I had been surrounded by amazing people with similar passions, and I loved the constant challenge of new ideas and new information and new marketplaces. But, suddenly, I was back in my hometown where I had barely spent a continuous week for two years. I continued applying to positions on-line, writing tailored cover letters for each company in hopes of getting an interview. Applying to jobs is exhausting, most of my energy went to creating my “own brand” with little word back. I began working at a local law office assisting with jury instructions, researching fraudulent bank loans, and tapping into my undergraduate Excel skills to occupy some of my time. I had a publishing interview in Chicago, but they hired from in-house, inviting me to re-apply for any future job that may come in the future. I did and went for another interview, and they again hired from in-house. No publishing job.
The program told us it tends to take 3–6 months to be hired, and I am currently at 3 months and 7 days. So where am I now? Not in Chicago. Not in Denver. Not even in New York, the publishing capital of the country. I am sitting in my friend’s apartment in Washington, DC, halfway through a personal networking trip. In a landscape different from what I originally imagined, I want to apply those marketing, editing, and publicity skills into a communications or strategic marketing position. And here, in DC, I sense my career starting.
It may seem like a radical change, but the same passions that drove me to publishing drove me here. Books bridge the gap between countries and socioeconomic systems, allowing readers to become a character and empathize with conflicts, emotions, and obstacles that afflict our real world. I would still love to market books, but the chance to work on the specific issues, incaceration and immigration and human rights, is almost more fulfilling.
Already, I met with seven professionals and will continue to meet people until Wednesday night, when I fly back to Chicago. I am talking with more than one company about starting my career and I am hyped by DC’s transient, challenging atmosphere. The Denver Publishing Institute improved many of my skills, and I will apply them to my positions, but the Denver Publishing Institute also taught me about networking. It is that skill that will move me to DC, hopefully, by the end of November.
Let us end with an adventurous quote from Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, a book I read as I ride the metro:
“Pack a pillow and blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it.”