An English major with a minor in creative writing, Elise Keller ’10 knew there were a lot of publishing companies in the Boston area. So she packed her bags and left Maryland.
In the job search, Elise quickly learned that she needed more experience and accepted an internship with Hackett Publishing, a small Cambridge publisher of philosophical books. Six months later she landed her first full-time job as a production assistant for Bedford/St.Martin’s, a division of Macmillan.
“Bedford/St.Martin’s is a bigger company but it feels like a family,” observes Elise. “They’re one of the leading publishers of college textbooks specializing in the humanities. I work in their Back Bay office in the production department with about 20 other people. There are a total of 120 employees sharing two floors. “
Supporting production editors, Elise revises composites, cold proofs files, and administers freelance files. “I’ve started working with a production editor on a first edition and I’m learning the whole process. I just received my first credit on the copyright page of a textbook. Eventually I would like to become a production editor and work on my own book,” she says.
Elise discovered an old friend on the job. “We publish the best-selling textbook, A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker, which was the first book I bought freshman year. I used it for three years, working in the Writing Center. We also produce e-books, online tools and references for students and instructors.”
Elise came to Washington College intent on becoming a writer. She began her novel in a Senior Seminar in Writing and completed the first draft that year. She is now editing and re-working her book.
“I have always wanted to be a writer, ever since I could remember,” says Elise. “My goal has always been to get my book published. I got my start in the English department at Washington College and I still correspond with Katherine Wagner, who was my creative writing professor and advisor.”
Her other writing project is a collection of essays she started junior year in American Environmental Writing with Professor Meehan. “I hope to expand each piece and then maybe turn it into a series. I want to go to grad school, too, and pursue an MFA in creative writing.”
On campus, Elise kept busy with Writers’ Theatre, Rose O’Neill Literary House, and writing for the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Lab. As a junior she spent her fall semester in London through the College’s Joint Program with the University of Delaware.
“I’d like to live in England again, but right now I’m working on my craft – and mastering my voice.”
Fall 2011 Update
My job as a Production Assistant at Bedford/St. Martin’s has been going really well. I have learned a lot and really enjoy the production side of publishing. It’s a lot different than what I thought it would be and I get to see how the manuscript is developed all of the way through. I do a lot of proofreading, which is fun. Even though it’s a bigger company it really has a smaller, family feel. I have joined a writer’s group which meets in Cambridge and am still writing. I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to stop.