The Mystery of Publishing Courses Unveiled


After years of editing, critiquing manuscripts, and story coaching, it dawned on me that some people get paid for that and those some people are in the publishing industry. With that revelation fueling my google searches, I began my hunt to break into the publishing world.

I was surprised at how little information I could find.

Two options presented themselves:

  1. Move to a new city (probably NYC), try to get an internship with only a BA in English and my charms to recommend me, and hope that somehow I would glean from the whole experience what the broader industry was like and if I had a place in it
  2. Apply for what resembled an intensive grad course that gave an overview of the industry

So, I looked into summer publishing programs.

**NOTE: This article is a brief breakdown of what intensive, stand-alone publishing courses cover. In my next post you can read my evaluation of their merits relative to each other, effectiveness in educating about and for the industry, and overall value. Oh yeah, and feelings.**

There are currently three in the US (these are listed based on the alphabet, not merit):

The Columbia Publishing Course (Columbia University)

The Denver Publishing Institute (University of Denver)

And the Summer Publishing Institute (NYU)

They are all more or less six-week summer intensives that cover the magazine sector, book sector, and the digital market. Each bring in speakers that are exceptional in their field (think Editor-in-Chief of Esquire, the Random House Editor of The Girl on the Train, Editor-in-Chief of Buzzfeed, etc.), do industry field trips, and give opportunities for their students to network and interview.

The breakdown is fairly uniform across all three programs. The first three weeks are spent on the magazine industry and the second three weeks are on the book industry. Digital is mixed throughout. From here out, I can only speak to NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute (SPI), but I believe the format is similar in all of the courses.

We spent the first week of each section getting info-dumped on the industry from every angle– no department or behind-the-scenes position was left unrepresented. This continued next two weeks; however, in addition to listening to lectures, we were put into groups and assigned jobs within them.

By the end of the magazine intensive, each group had to present a full magazine, complete with media kit, advertising, marketing plan, design/layout, app/digital presence, sample articles, and budget. For the book intensive, each group had to create and present a publishing imprint with similar categories of components. Both of these presentations were after pitching several ideas to the SPI board, made up almost entirely by people who worked in that specific industry.

I know you have to be getting tired of the word, but did I mention intensive?

While we were working on these projects and furiously trying to take in all we could from each talk, there were outings and networking gatherings. And it all wrapped up with speed-date interviews and a certificate. What a storm.

Masochistic interest piqued?



Watch for my next post to get the full review!

Abigail, wondering if anyone is held in suspense, signing off.






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