Gainfully employed...Miss Snark shivers with fear

Miss Snark,

Having slaved in the corporate world for just over a decade now, I find that I hate it. Financial reforecasts, margin analysis - it just doesn't get me going anymore. After much soul searching, I identified my top five dream jobs. Publishing is up there at #1.

What are the chances that the NYC publishing houses and/or literary agencies would take a chance on someone who is well into her 30s and willing to start at the bottom of the barrel along with the just-graduated 22-year-olds?

Do you know to wear shoes in the office?
Do you know to pick up the phone and not howl "Yankees Rule" into the mouthpiece?
Do you understand the importance of showing up for work every day of the week? On time?

3 out of 3 yesses and you're good to go.
Publishers Marketplace has a good job board.

However, I'm mightily amused by the idea you think publishing isn't somehow deeply involved in financial forecasts and corporate shenanigans. What the hell do you think we do around here. Read? Not during business hours. That's your after hours recreation. Unpaid.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a conversation I recently had with a publisher friend. I thought we'd have a nice chat about books and writing over coffee. Ha ha. We spoke about forecasts, profit margins, fees and legalities - and the fact that authors invariably didn't know that any of that had anything to do with books. Fortunately I have a corporate background otherwise I might well have ended up with my face in the cheesecake.

Anonymous said...

When Gainfully Employed fills out the application for employment at a publishing company, they'll be interested in her work history of course; and when they find out she has experience in financial reforecasting and margin analysis, guess where they'll want to stick her.

Anonymous said...

And omigod, the politics.

Stacy said...

The publishing company I work for was started by a couple who make the perfect team - he's an accountant, and she had a solid background in editing and publishing management. Oh the laugh they would have if they read this letter.

Anonymous said...

I suffer from similar delusions that the grass is greener in the writing world, publishing world, gallery world, anywhere but at my current I.T. and Contracts Manager gig. Part-time I pursue a creative writing degree, thinking that "one day..." my life will improve when I am immersed in the literary world.

Thank god for my Hollywood director friend who constantly reminds me to count my blessings at a steady job, with insurance benefits. Good is happening right now - not later, not at a different job.

lizzie26 said...

What does s/he think--being in one's thirties is over-the-hill? Heck, life's just begun!

Anonymous said...

Although I have finally realized that I've landed with my bum in the butter with my current IT job, I STILL want to be a published writer.
Difference is, I'm now okay with pursuing this dream part time until I can realize it.
Because, face it, if we don't have dreams, what the heck do we have?

HawkOwl said...

If you're tired of the "corporate world," try blue collar work. Waaaaaaaay more fun, and financial projections are no longer your problem.

And to the second anonymous: "if we don't have dreams, what do we have?" How cliche. Most importantly, we have responsibilities. I think they're vastly more fulfilling than dreams.

Anonymous said...

Who the hell is "Misis Snark?"

Anonymous said...

if one thinks that publishing will deliver one from the drudgery of corporate america, i would think again. it's a business, this publishing, with budgets, marketing, forecasting...might be different at a small press. i imagine that it would be the same for a big literary agency versus a small one.

no matter what the operation is, if people have offices, there's going to be office politics.

as to "who the hell is miss snark?" from the above poster, my word. where have you been?

Kanani said...

I've changed the questions so that if the applicant wants to come to L.A., she'll know what to expect:

Do you have at least twenty pairs of Reefs and sandals in your wardrobe?
Do you know to pick up the phone and not howl "USC!! USC!! into the mouthpiece?
Do you understand the importance of running over to the Farmer's Market and buying the boss his organic produce after dropping him off at his yoga practice in Santa Monica?
Do you understand that if you run into George Clooney while picking out produce, you are supposed to direct him to Miss Snark, and only MIss Snark?

Mike Vecchio said...

Dreams and goals are the stuff of life. responsibilities are important as well. The whole trick is to keep it all in balance, addressing your responsibilites while staying focused on your dreams and goals. Life is not one way or the other. It is what it is at any given time. You can like it or not like it at any given time. It still is what it is and needs to be lived and addressed with integrity from that perspective.

Feisty said...

Heck, you have to have dreams and goals. Responsibilities are a given and half the time they're a real drag. They make life so routine. If I didn't have dreams, I think I'd just lay down and die.

Cynthia Bronco said...

Let's see, entry level publishing in NYC? Are you willing to work for $25,000.00 a year? Can you move back in with your Mom?

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark must have been shivering in fear--her fingers stuttered typing the title for the post!

Life is just one big typo sometimes, isn't it?

Sal said...

as to "who the hell is miss snark?" from the above poster, my word. where have you been?

The question was, Who the hell is "Misis Snark?" and referred to the header for the blog post.

I'm sure Miss Snark will fix her typo when she gets around to it.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I don't know about this. I went to law school, hated practice with all my might, went and got an MA in Eng. Lit., and tried to break into publishing. Sent out zillions of resumes, nary a nibble. And it's not like my resume is shabby (Princeton, Harvard, Northwestern). Now I'm back practicing law and sharpening razor blades.

The problem with publishing is that there simply are too many English majors chasing too few jobs.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Folks, look in the title of that topic. ;)

See? It was written by Miss Snark's evil dyslexic twin. :)

Anonymous said...

unfortunately, there's a VP at my company who doesn't know to wear shoes at the office.

Anonymous said...

Once I made a business call and a young-sounding person answered with a yell of "Yankees Rule!" I begged her pardon in my most flowing Mississippi accent and said she needn't rub my nose in it. The grovelling that ensued was priceless.

Matt Shields said...

good story to hear, right there with you, somewhere in my, um, thirties and going from a position of great responsibility and authority to one of... not much of anything, just to break into new work

good luck :)

Anonymous said...

Bookfraud said: "might be different at a small press."

Oh yes, at a small press the publisher is the editor, bookkeeper, gopher, mailroom and delivery person. Tons of fun. The politics is a bit dull.

Anonymous said...

I think your above poster is referring to the fact that Miss Snark misspelled herself:

M.i.s.i.s Snark

Miss Snark said...


word verification: wtfmisisindeed

h-c said...

I was an editorial assistant for two years, and then an editor for one. I'd heard getting a job in publishing was hard if you had a degree in English, which I did not It took me a long time to figure out how to sell myself in a cv, just to get an interview. Then, it took months to actually get hired.

It's stating the obvious, but figure out what you have to offer based on your experiences. That's your edge.

MsMolly said...

Let's see, entry level publishing in NYC? Are you willing to work for $25,000.00 a year?

Damn, they pay $25K now? Luxury!

Back in the day (1997/98) I made $19K. (And lived in a hole in the middle of the road and got up at 10:30 at night, half an hour before I went to bed. Kids these days have it so easy.)

Anonymous said...

Responsibilities: If you die tomorrow, somebody else will take care of your shit.

Dreams: If you die tomorrow, nobody else will take care of your shit.

Dream today, while it still matters.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Miss.

HawkOwl said...

Somehow I'm not surprised that everyone is on the Dream bandwagon. :)

MTV - Responsibilities are the stuff of life. Dreams and goals are frills for those who have that kind of time. If you spend all your time taking care of your responsibilities, you have no need for dreams and goals.

Feisty - You're gonna lie down and die sooner or later. Maybe in the mean time you need to learn to enjoy your responsibilities. :)

Anonymous 7 - That's where you know your responsibilities matter more than your dreams and goals.

Really, if you wanted to have no responsibilities, you'd have to be either immensely rich or institutionalized. Whereas having no dreams doesn't cramp your style at all. Ironically, responsibilities make you free. Dreams just make you dissatisfied with things that don't fall in line with your dream.

Not that it's on topic or anything.

Anonymous said...


The Dream Bandwagon cruises through with the regularity of the ice cream man.

But there is no real difference between dream & responsibility if you have chosen work you really like.

The idea that responisibility and dream are somehow mutually exclusive just seems sad. It means one has a poor fit with job/family/self.

HawkOwl said...

Kate - You have a point - kinda. "Work you really enjoy" isn't quite the same as "dreams and goals." And no one said that dreams and responsibilities are mutually exclusive. The question was, which of them is more fulfilling.

Anonymous said...

Hawkeye: "if we don't have dreams, what do we have?" How cliche. Most importantly, we have responsibilities. I think they're vastly more fulfilling than dreams.

You're so full of *&^it its no wonder there is no room in there for dreams.

MATURE adults have room for both.

HawkOwl said...

Oh, darn, anonymous. I wish I could be mature like you and have nothing more articulate to say than "you're full of shit." And also be mature enough to say it anonymously, like you. And also be mature enough to read "most importantly, we have responsibilities," and think it means "you can't have both dreams and responsibilities," like you. And also be mature enough to call other people immature, like you.

You're so mature, you're my new hero. Now I'll dream of meeting you forever. It's too bad you're anonymous and no one will ever know all this maturity comes from you.

Anonymous said...

Attn Mark P! Princeton, Harvard, NU!

If you're single and good-looking, I'd date you. (Me: Smith, U of Chgo) Lawyering pays the bills, but the English degree makes you interesting.