The Department of English celebrates and highlights the achievements of alumni as they find careers with their degrees. This week, Taylor Pitts, Assistant Production Editor at Penguin Random House, discusses how her degree in Literature has prepared her for her job.
What is your current job? What does that job entail?
Currently, I work as an Assistant Production Editor for the Berkley imprint of Penguin Random House. In my role, I assist two senior production editors with all phases of text in the book publishing process, including sending out manuscripts to freelancers and reviewing manuscripts for text and design errors. Basically, I’m a corrections officer for books. I also get to review all the covers for my title list to make sure they are completely error-free and pretty, which is a lot of fun. A large part of my job involves juggling multiple titles for each season and keeping track of where each book is in its own production schedule. It can get a little hectic, but I enjoy getting to work with a lot of different genres ranging from cozy mysteries to hard science fiction, women’s fiction to psychological thrillers, and even some nonfiction titles, including the 50th Anniversary Edition of Chariots of the Gods, which pubs in July.
How has your degree helped in your current position?
I believe wholeheartedly that I would not be working for the largest trade publisher in the world if I had not chosen to pursue literature at Missouri State. The classes I took and the professors I had inspired and encouraged me to go for a career in publishing—even when it seemed like a pipe dream. By gaining a wide range a knowledge about literature and applying it wherever possible (in my role as a BearClaw writing consultant, during my senior year publishing course, and especially at my internship with a literary agency in NYC after graduation), I set myself up for success with the invaluable foundation offered by MSU.
What advice do you have for current English majors or minors who are looking to do something similar to what you do?
To some, getting a degree in literature might seem like a risk. For me, it was common sense. I always loved books and knew I wanted to work as closely with them as possible, and with hard work and dedication, I made it happen. And I believe anyone can do the same. If you’re looking to go into publishing, my advice is twofold: 1) decide to be dedicated, and 2) don’t be discouraged if you don’t “know” anyone in publishing. Whenever I shared my goal while getting my degree, I always heard some variation of the same thing: “Don’t you need to know people to get into publishing?” I usually just shrugged and said I planned on doing it anyway. And I didn’t know a single soul when I moved to NYC, but I still got a job in publishing shortly after making that move. Knowing people is certainly the easiest way to get into publishing—but it’s not a requirement. If you have connections, use them. But if you don’t, because you’re from Missouri and the closest you’ve ever gotten to the publishing world is quoting Devil Wears Prada, I refer to my first piece of advice: decide to be dedicated, and go for it.