One Monday in early February, Michael Pietsch, Publisher at Little, Brown & Co and parent to current senior Jackson Pietsch, visited Career Services to speak to students about his experience working in the publishing industry. Pietsch, who was recently promoted to Chief Executive of Hachette Book Group, which owns Little, Brown as well as a dozen additional imprints, spoke at length about the process of starting as an assistant editor and working his way to the position he now holds.
Pietsch's enthusiasm spilled over into the crowd as he recounted editing such literary luminaries as David Foster Wallace, Martin Amis, and even Ernest Hemingway -- posthumously, of course. Pietsch communicated a sense of wonder at the business that James Patterson has built through his books and the satisfaction of publishing J.K. Rowling's first book geared towards an adult audience. Described by others as a hands-on editor, Pietsch spoke of the thrill of helping an author achieve his vision, saying that he'd learned early on the sense of responsibility that comes with an author placing his trust in an editor.
Editing, however, is only one of many satisfying occupations in a publishing house, he added. While many students think initially and only about editing as a potential entre to the literary world, Pietsch encouraged students to consider positions in marketing, sales, and publicity. There are many ways to help books succeed, he told the audience, and while editing positions are limited, opportunities in other areas are plentiful. He went on to highlight the experience of a young woman who recently transitioned from marketing to editing.
To the students who asked about the future of publishing as a viable business, Pietsch said that books are not going away any time soon. While he acknowledged that change in the field is occurring at a rapid pace, he sees the change as good and as evidence of a thriving industry that will be around for a very long time. Students who are interested in pursuing a career in publishing can find positions posted on the websites of publishing houses, in addition to specialty sites such as Mediabistro.com.