Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Publishing Institute reveals mysteries of book world

The University of Denver’s Publishing Institute recently wrapped up its 31st year with a record 100 students enrolled in the month-long intensive program. This summer, as in the past, some of the publishing industry’s top executives came to Denver as faculty. Along with lectures, the institute provides hands-on editing and marketing workshops so students can perform the tasks they’ve been learning about.

Led by director Elizabeth Geiser and co-director Jill Smith, the Publishing Institute provides students with a background in every aspect of publishing. Students learn about a variety of publishing jobs, types of publishers and the economics of the industry.

The institute draws applicants from throughout the U.S. and overseas. This year, 250 applied for the program. Geiser says prospective students must have high GPAs, compelling personal statements and strong letters of recommendation from professors or employers to make it into the institute.

“There’s a whole range of opportunities in book publishing, and you can find something that fits every talent,” Geiser says. “The purpose of this program is to send people forth with a realistic understanding of all the facets of publishing so they can direct their course into the area of the profession where they fit best.”

And many graduates do find their place. The program boasts an 80-percent success rate measured by graduates who find jobs in the industry. Geiser, who says she “bumbled” into the profession, maintains her industry connections in part by living and working in New York City for part of the year.

Dick Greenberg, a former CEO of college textbook publisher Mayfield Publishing returned for his 16th year as a faculty member of the institute. Greenberg focuses on helping students land that first important publishing job.

Informational interviews offer students a birds-eye view of publishing and help them set long-term goals, Greenberg says. He notes that informational interviews can help job seekers get noticed—and that helps open doors to jobs.

Marta Martins, BA ’06, learned about the institute in an English course, Introduction to Publishing, taught by Geiser last winter. Her interest duly piqued, Martins was admitted to this summer’s institute.

“Most of us go in there thinking we want to do editorial,” Martins says. “It turns out I’m not quite as picky about my commas as perhaps I should be.”

Martins was intrigued by sales and marketing because it would allow her to explore her extroverted side. By the time she graduated from the institute she realized that selling to retailers, a “soft-sell,” would be a perfect fit.

Martins took tips on interviewing from Publishing Institute graduates, including a sales assistant. After taking a field trip to Fulcrum Publishing in Golden, Colo., she read several books about Colorado history published by the house. In preparation for an interview for a sales assistant position at Fulcrum, Martins called historical museums and researched their book offerings.

After two interviews, Martins secured her first position in the book publishing industry. She’s a retail merchandising and product specialist at Fulcrum.

“I’m happy to be where I am right now,” Martins says.

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