Marketing and Publicity intern Taylor Wiggs discusses his path to publishing and how a typical day at Celadon Books looks for him. Taylor shares some advice for getting your foot in the door and reveals what has surprised him the most about publishing.
Were you a big reader growing up? Did you have any favorite authors or books?
In late elementary school, I became a truly ravenous reader. I have a distinct memory of picking up Brian Jacques’s Redwall and being enraptured by that book. It was the first time I think I really understood the power of a good story — the way its world can subsume everything you think about for a little while. After that, I kept looking for that feeling, and, luckily, kept finding it in authors like Gary Paulsen and Jack London. My reading interests have since expanded, of course, but I still look for stories that are fundamentally the same: singular, filled with a life all their own.
What was your first job?
Over summers in high school, I worked as a filing clerk in a bankruptcy law firm. While I learned a lot there, one lesson overshadowed all others: I didn’t want to be a lawyer.
How would you describe your role at Celadon Books?
At Celadon, I work with the marketing team on a variety of projects. These range from outreach campaigns, where we get our newest books in the hands of bookstagrammers, to more creative opportunities, where I draft copy or design social media graphics. Every week there’s a lot of new projects taking shape, so it’s great for someone like me who likes to be involved in all kinds of work.
What drew you into publishing?
Until college, I wasn’t really aware that a multifaceted industry lay just behind each of the books I loved reading. Moreover, I didn’t have the slightest idea how to get involved in publishing. So after graduation I worked a few jobs that I wasn’t terribly passionate about. Eventually I took a job at an indie bookstore in Memphis, and I learned firsthand how much effort it takes to get a book from an author’s computer into a reader’s waiting hands. Most importantly, I found out that I wanted more than anything to make a career around books. A friend of mine had recently taken the Columbia Publishing Course and recommended I check it out. I did, and eventually I enrolled. Now, if all goes well, I’m on my way to a career in publishing.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
Each morning I start by checking my weekly to-do list, which I try to keep updated and clearly marked. From there, I sketch out a schedule of things I’d like to get done that day and start to work on whatever’s most pressing. This process sets the day’s underlying rhythm, and I’ll factor in whatever meetings I have scheduled as well as any surprise tasks that might come up.
Because we’re working from home, I try to carve out a few times during the day to get outside and take a break from my room and screen. This is as important as anything else I do — having your workspace, bedroom, and living room all rolled into one tiny New York City apartment has its challenges.
What has been the biggest surprise during your internship?
As someone who’s worked in retail, marketing firms, and law practices, I can safely say that publishing people are the most agreeable you’re likely to meet. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this — I’d been told that would be the case in the publishing course, and I’d experienced a taste of it while working at the indie bookstore, but it came as a bit of a shock, nonetheless.
I’m certainly biased, but I think this general warmth stems from the shared love of reading. People who read tend to have more in common than just their shared hobby. Anyone who’s willing to spend hours at a time with a book is likely to develop a patient, understanding disposition. What other kind of person would you want to work with?
What advice would you give to someone who’s looking for an internship in publishing
Stay determined. In a lot of ways, publishing is a very hard nut to crack. But if you want to work on exciting, rewarding projects surrounding wonderful books, there’s no other industry to get into.
As you begin applying, it’s important to do your research and ask lots of questions in any interviews. Each imprint puts out a distinctive catalog of books and also has a unique team chemistry and workflow. Some will be more suited to you than others, so make sure it’s a good match!