Steal This Job
Pre-Teen Press: Kids Book Editor
Friday, March 11, 2005; 12:38 PM
TERRELL SMITH, 36
JOB: Managing editor at Joseph Henry Press in D.C., an arm of the National Academies Press
SALARY RANGE: $60,000 to $75,000
EDUCATION: Master's in English literature from Georgetown University.
WHAT SHE DOES: Smith coordinates with writers, editors, designers and marketers in the development of a new series of biographies, geared toward middle school students, highlighting 10 contemporary female scientists. Managing the series has ranged from helping to decide who to feature (such as robot designer Cynthia Breazeal), working with writers to shape the stories and assisting designers in crafting the series' look. Editing for pre-teens can be even more difficult than for adults: "It's a matter of reading through it from the perspective of a middle-schooler -- trying to figure out if the topics that are being covered are at the right age level ... if the story makes sense, where there are holes, where there are inconsistencies, she said.
WOULD YOU WANT HER JOB?: The task of bringing to the bookshelf a series "about people that kids have never heard of" can be "nerve-wracking," she said. "It's hard to compete with the popular culture for this age group." She's had to immerse herself in popular kids' magazines and books for the project, turning at least a few heads on the Metro: "[I] got the feeling that people were feeling sorry for me that I couldnt read above a sixth-grade level," she said.
HOW YOU CAN GET HER JOB: Look to gain experience and a feel for publishing as an assistant editor. There isn't much book publishing locally, but many associations in the area produce newsletters and magazines.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: The Association of American Publishers' bookjobs.com lists information on publishing and job openings.
This article orignally appeared in Express on November 22, 2004.