Publishing Dreams in Denver

Hannah Hunt ’16, bibliophile and publishing enthusiast, applied her passion for books this summer at the Denver Publishing Institute:

There comes a time in every English major’s life, where you wonder “what can I do with this degree and my love of literature?” For me, that moment came prematurely during my senior year of high school. A lot of people choose to become writers, or teachers, or journalists, or simply stay avid readers. But as a senior in high school, I wanted to work in publishing. I arrived on Wittenberg’s campus in the fall of 2012 determined to spend the next four years working toward just that, and after interning with a literary agent this past spring—I knew I picked the right direction.

But how does one start working in publishing, you ask? There are a few ways—most commonly you already know someone in the business. This was not my case, and I’m not the type of person to just up and move to a city and attempt to start a career path there without a job already waiting for me. So I did some research on how the publishing industry worked, and found several graduate programs that offered a crash course in the business of publishing books. I applied and received my acceptance letter on my birthday last March.

In July, I attended the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver in Colorado. I had a vague idea of what to expect from the experience after following the program speakers’ listings for the last three years. But for those of you who haven’t heard the DPI alumni talk on campus, at Denver you’ll cover the life of a book from the author’s pen or computer to their agent, who sells it to editors to sell to their publisher and then the editing begins. Once that’s finished, the book goes to a copy editor and then to the author for final passes. All the while marketing and publicity and the graphic design team are working their butts off to make that book look and sound the best it can because they want you to read it. While at Denver, I learned the mystical secrets to each one of these areas of publishing (and a bit of the economics too, though I’ve never been good with numbers so I’m not a super reliable resource for that aspect).

It was an incredible experience. Our first day was an introduction discussion about publishing with the president of Penguin Random House Publishers, and boy were all 100 nerdy bookworms in the room star struck. From there we spoke with literary agents (the talent scouts of the book world), had a two-week crash course on editing and copy editing with three phenomenal editors, a week-long marketing workshop where we were all given a book to write a press release for and draw up a budget for marketing and advertisements, and then there were the books. (SO MANY FREE BOOKS). I got releases that won’t even be out until next year. They’re all beautiful by the way.

It was a whirlwind of four weeks, too. I flew to Denver with just my small blue suitcase and my backpack. I took the Denver rail system from the airport to the university, and when I got home it took two weeks to convince myself that I had really been gone for a month and not just a few days. I spoke with so many wonderful professionals in the industry, all of which were very encouraging about getting you to move to New York City after finishing the program, and made so many friends that I hope to keep for years to come.

I don’t regret a second of it. If you’re interested in anything that has to do with publishing or the book world (from indie booksellers to graphic design to the marketing of books) this is a phenomenal way to learn about it all. Wittenberg has students go to Denver almost every year after graduating, and frankly every professional in the room says they prefer the Denver program to those at NYU or Columbia for publishing. So I’m feeling pretty good after hearing that.

I’m still in the process of looking for jobs—as my desired geographical location leans more west than east, publishing jobs are a bit harder to pin down. But I’m confident in my ability to find something that marries my love of books with my passion for the entire process of creating a book that readers will love. If you’re interested in following along in my publishing and writing journeys or have any questions about my adventures, you can find me on my blog or any social media site by searching imhannahhunt.

– Hannah Hunt ’16

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