Q&A: Catherine Mallette '84, Director of Editorial Services at HarperCollins

Jan. 24, 2019

Catherine shares valuable tips for navigating a career in publishing.

Could you provide a brief description of what your organization does and describe a typical workday?

HarperCollins Publishers is the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world. The headquarters is in New York, but there is a team based in Monmouth Junction, just outside of Princeton, where we handle many production details for our books. Our Editorial Services team provides proofreading for adult books across all HarperCollins imprints and also enters corrections into manuscripts and proofs ePubs. 

Are there any recommended skills a student would need to be a top performer in your field?

There are many kinds of jobs in publishing. All of them require an excellent command of the language, including grammar and usage. Read often and read widely. Expand your vocabulary. Develop your ability to read critically and analyze texts. These are fungible skills that are essential in book publishing, as well as in magazine and newspaper journalism. I started in magazine journalism, went on to become assistant managing editor for a major-market daily newspaper and now work for a book publisher. The common thread is a love for words and language. 

What advice do you have for students searching for a job? 

Do work that makes you happy, but during the hiring process remember that companies don't hire you to make you happy. I know this sounds harsh, but it's true. When presenting yourself to a potential employer, think about what their needs are and how your skill set and experience can help the company with their goals. Focus on the job description and respond to that specifically. Tailor your resume to the job that is advertised. Don't write an emotion-driven cover letter that talks all about your aspirations and what you want out of life, but rather one that shows the matchup between the needs of the company and your skillset/experience. If you can't find a paying job, do volunteer work that uses the skillset for the job you'd like to have.