August 16, 2012
Posted by: Gina Gagliano
Categories: Behind the Scenes

(photo ganked from the DC Public Library; Roosevelt’s Secretary of War in no way works for First Second, even in his current zombie form)

Here at the First Second home offices, we get a number of e-mails and letters from people who would like to get a job at First Second.

Here is the short answer to all your questions: you cannot have a job at First Second, because we employ a total of four people, and none of them has quit lately.

If you are interested in a job that is tangentially related to us, head on over to the Macmillan Career Posting website!  They will be able to tell you about all the careers open at our parent company, some of which may even involve things like selling our books to foreign countries, or helping with contracts.

If you’re not interested in any of that and just want to work at First Second, you are more than welcome to send us a letter and a resume.  We still won’t be able to employ you, but we do keep information on file in case one of us quits or we have a staff explosion (always a possibility).  Here are some tips that make your (still extremely slim) chances of getting a job better.

– Indicate in your letter that you know who we are.  I know it’s super-hard to be just getting out of college and finding a job, and that you have to apply everywhere in hopes that someone takes pity on you and adopts you into their company.  However!  You have a much better chance of that happening if you drop a line into your letter that’s like, ‘I really like your books; XX, by Author X (which was published by First Second), was the best thing I read last year.’  Or else just tell us that your high school teacher made you read American Born Chinese, this will have the dual benefit of establishing you know who we are and also making us all feel really old.

– Don’t tell us that you’re really an author/artist, but you want to work in publishing until you’ve made enough connections to break into the industry creatively.  Working in publishing really is an excellent way to establish yourself in the industry and get published, but as much as it’d be wonderful to be a publisher and an artists colony, we’re actually just a publisher.  That means that we’d like to employ people who have a genuine desire to work in publishing, who want to be here because they love editing or designing or marketing — because they love helping authors make their best books possible. We have a staff of four people; we can’t actually employ anyone who’s thinking of this job as their 9 – 5 until they can follow their actual dreams.

– (For that matter, also don’t tell us you really wanted a job with Publisher X, but they said no, so we’re your second/third/fifth/etc. choice.  Even if it’s true.)

– Meet us!  We exhibit at NYCC and SDCC and the MoCCA Art Festival; our authors do events locally in New York that we sometimes can pry ourselves away from our desks long enough to attend.  Our Editorial Director and our Senior Editor occasionally speak at writers conferences around the country.  If we’re hiring new people, someone that we’ve met before is preferable — not only because we have therefore been able to identify you as not a robot, but also because if you come to an author event or a show, you’re showing that you care enough about our company to seek us out on your own time.  That said — shows and author events are not great times to tell us that we should give you a job; try being witty and personable on-site, then following up with an e-mail afterwards.

– Freelance.  There aren’t a whole lot of freelance editorial jobs, but there are some, in both the book and the comics universe.  Ditto for design.  I know it’d be optimal to get a job that pays health insurance, but while you’re trying to find that, take a copy-editing test, learn how to use InDesign, and see if there are publishers who need temporary help on those fronts.  We are much more likely to have freelance work that needs to get done than we are a job opening — and hey, even if we don’t eventually have a job opening, you can still put ‘Freelance Copy-editing for Publishers, X, Y, Z’ on your resume.

Good luck!

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