The department of English and comparative literature hosts a poetry international publishing salon every month at San Diego State. Organized by the English 576 A and B classes on campus, guest speakers are chosen by students to share advice and knowledge. The salons are free and open to anyone interested in book sales and the publishing industry.
English senior and publishing event coordinator Shekinah Kifer hosted the event held on Wednesday Oct. 5, in the education and business administration building.
To kickoff the semester, Kifer selected college book representative of W.W. Norton, Andrea Knab, as the salon’s first guest speaker.
Knab earned her bachelor’s and master’s in English from SDSU and returned to share her knowledge about the publishing industry.
Knab outlined the hiring process she went through before achieving her position at Norton, which she has held for seven years. Between four phone interviews, shadowing other representatives and a six-month training process, a position within the publishing field is one well earned.
Knab said the publishing industry requires one to think quickly, critically and creatively.
“I think of myself more as a partner to the professors,” Knab said. “When I’m talking to a professor I want to ask about their class, I want to talk about the books they are currently using, the resources that they are using aside from the book, and I want to know what challenges they face.”
Her sales position has allowed her to get her “foot in the door” and has taught her how to effectively solve problems and deal with complex challenges.
“It might be a challenge for themselves, or it might be a challenge for the students in the class,” s Knab said. “Based on those conversations I might know that Norton has something that could help solve that problem or alleviate the challenges that the professor is facing.”
Knab currently covers all of the colleges between San Diego and Las Vegas, totaling 32 different schools and campuses.
“We publish in 17 different disciplines,” Knab said. “There are anywhere between 5 – 30 professors in each of those departments that I might need to work with.”
While traveling and flexibility are two factors that contribute towards the college representative sales position, many other personal characteristics are well valued. Three words to describe an individual involved in the publishing industry are self-motivated, independent and organized.
“I have learned how much thought goes into every aspect of publishing a book,” Knab said. “It’s very collaborative and it’s very thoughtful. I don’t know I knew to appreciate that before seeing what was behind the curtains.”
Publishing salons are held monthly by Poetry International and are valuable to anyone who is curious to get an insiders’ expertise within the publishing field. The next salon will be held Monday Oct. 17, with agent and publisher Andy Zack.
“I learned how much work goes into making just one book and that there are so many different departments and people are involved,” Kiefer said. “I found it interesting to hear about the publishing industry from an insiders perspective, and what it truly is like to work in that job field.”