Publishing is hard. It’s not just hard on editors, or writers, or booksellers. It’s just generally challenging. At times, it feels a little bit like being in love. It can feel like ecstasy when you get to work with the people who create characters and stories you fall in love with, and it can feel like absolute agony when you don’t. But if I’ve learned anything about what makes a company a success, it’s not how they deal with the wins that counts. It’s how they recover from the losses.
The past two weeks, I’ve had the incredible privilege of watching the talented team at Hot Key Books hard at work. There are three big things that make this place a wonderful place to work. First, people communicate face-to-face, all the time, all day long. There was rarely a moment when I felt out of the loop, which is a rare experience for an intern. Secondly, great ideas can come from anyone, and everyone gets behind them. Everyone’s opinion counts, no matter their title. Again, that is incredibly hard to find, and makes such a gigantic difference. And finally, the passion people have for their craft in this office is palpable. Every single person at Hot Key believes in the transformative power of books, and this passion is evident in everything they do.
While I was interning, there were a few things that didn’t go exactly as planned. This is par for the course in publishing (and in life), you win some, you lose some. But what was really inspiring was the way that Hot Key Books staff responded. They talked to each other. They didn’t jump to blame or anger. They worked out solutions together and got behind the best course of action. They emerged wiser but undeterred from their course. Neil Pasricha, author of 1000 Awesome Things, says that one of the keys to being Awesome is attitude, particularly in the face of great challenges. It’s Hot Key’s attitude towards publishing that makes them special, and I’m betting this attitude will also lead to incredible success.
As I close out my last day at Hot Key Books it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by how wonderful my experience was (thus the somewhat shcmaltzy blog post, sorry). I’m going to try to keep the memories of this office fresh in my mind, because one day, when I’m in charge of an innovative new YA imprint (here’s hoping!), I want it to run just like Hot Key.
P.S. If you’re thinking about doing work experience at Hot Key, stop thinking, clean up your CV (ahem, spellcheck), and send in a convincing email. You won’t regret it.