After reading a tweet this morning from author and industry insider Jason Pinter, my attention was called to an article in the New York Observer that painted what I see as a completely inaccurate picture of young people, specifically assistants, in the publishing industry.
After attending an event at Housing Works Bookstore in SoHo a few weeks back, as well as a YPG (Young to Publishing Group) event in November, I agree — the young publishing crowd is well-pedigreed and poised. When I read the rest of the article, though, I felt so fortunate to be with a company that I love, in a job where I have growth . . . and where I’ve never had to get someone coffee, or answer someone’s phone.
I do think that the article made some valid points, including the fact that people often enter the publishing industry because of a job opening and not their dream job opening, and that the assistant duties have been watered down to intern/administrative-type work, but so what. Everyone should know how to run an office.
The story about the marketing assistant with a desire to break into the editorial end struck me as annoying.
Perhaps I don’t adequately understand the pressure of student loan debt, but if editorial was her dream, she could have waited. And I suppose my biggest issue with her story was her comment about the publicity assistants. Sure, people in PR have more face-time, and might have a different “look,” and maybe I have some weird prejudice against the fashion industry, but I felt her comment dumbed down my side of the industry — book PR.
I know the in-house game is different than where I hold experience — the agency world — but Megan Hustad’s comment about publicity assistants irked me the most. I don’t doubt that she worked hard, in fact, after googling her, I’m sure she did. I also don’t doubt that she encountered assistants of questionable intelligence, but I still don’t agree with her comment on any ground. See below (directly taken from the piece in the New York Observer).
“Editorial assistants look down on publicity assistants to overcompensate for the fact that publicity assistants typically work saner hours, enjoy more opportunities for advancement,” Megan Hustad, a onetime assistant who has worked as an editor at various houses, told The Observer in an email. “And yet, in the editorial assistant’s mind, publicity assistants are stupider. Oh, the ironies.
Even in an agency, my hours are far from sane, the work is far from easy . . . and stupid (which I realize she points out is an opinion of the editorial assistant in general. . . and hopefully not her own)? I beg to differ.
Walk a mile in my shoes — which tomorrow might be flats, but today were an unfortunately ugly pair of Ugg boots — and we’ll talk hours and stupidity.