How to Get Into Book Publishing: Editorial Assistant

By: David Adams

No two professional paths are alike, and that’s certainly true in the publishing industry. So, we’re asking book industry experts how they got their jobs in publishing, what kind of readers they are, and what they love most about the book business. In this installment, Celadon Books’ editorial assistant extraordinaire Randi Kramer reveals how she broke into book publishing.

Where are you from?
I grew up in Westchester, outside of NYC. 

Were you a big reader as a kid? What kinds of books?
I was — I would disappear for entire days into books. I would really read anything, but I usually reached for stories with a little bit of magic or otherworldliness. I was a huge Meg Cabot fan, read every Sweet Valley High book I could get my hands on, and grew up just the right age with the Harry Potter series. My favorite thing was to visit Diane’s Books in Greenwich, CT, where my mom would have me pick out every book I wanted, and then force me to narrow it down to about half of what I picked.

What was your first ever job?
I was a summer camp counselor for 3-year-olds. It was not pretty. In retrospect, I should have suggested story time . . . maybe then they would have sat still.

When did you know you wanted to work in publishing?
Sometime around freshman or sophomore year of college. I think my mom suggested it, but it felt like a natural extension of all of the time I spent reading.

What was your major in college, and do you use it in your work?
I was an English major, so yes, absolutely! Learning how to think analytically about storytelling has helped immensely as I try to define what exactly I like and dislike about the books I read –on submission, and in editing.

Tell us the story of how you got your job at Celadon.
I started in Macmillan as an Executive Assistant to the President and the COO. That role was great for me, as I started in publishing thinking I wanted to be in editorial, but not really understanding all of the different possible jobs that existed in the industry. While most of my duties were administrative, I was able to branch out and talk to a lot of people in the building, and even do some side projects in sales, digital marketing, and editorial. Those projects showed me that what I really wanted was to work directly with the stories and the language within them. So when Jamie and Deb announced Celadon, I spoke up about how cool it would be to help them. With my knowledge of the structure of Macmillan, and their need for an editorial assistant, it was a natural fit. 

What’s the best part of being an editorial assistant at Celadon?
There are so many perks, but I’ll have to say it’s the small team size. We started as just four of us, and have since grown to 9 people (soon to be 10!). With such a small group, we are all involved with and aware of what’s going on with every single title. I think it’s invaluable to have that kind of understanding about what your division is currently working on, and it serves to make sure that every single person at Celadon feels their voice is heard.

Do you still have time to read for fun? If so, what are you reading now?
I do my best! I’m just finishing up Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan, the last of the Crazy Rich Asians series. I wanted to finish them before seeing the movie — the books were so fun, and the movie looks great. I’m about to start Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday for book club.

Do you have a favorite reading spot?
It’s usually my bed, but ideally . . . a nice lounge chair by a pool, with a pitcher of iced tea. 

What’s the last TV show you binged?
Gilmore Girls (not for the first time).

What movies do you never turn down a chance to re-watch?
I’m not the biggest movie watcher, but (surprise surprise) my most favorites are almost all based on books I’ve loved. I can watch Pride and Prejudice again and again. Or Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Also The Princess Bride, and the Harry Potter movies when it’s snowy out. 

If you weren’t working in publishing, what would you be doing?
Anything that would let me spend more time reading for fun! But for real, probably something to do with creating and curating content for a company I believed in.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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