A version of this post originally appeared on Levo.
If you have yet to watch Younger, here are just a few of the things you’re missing: the omnipotent glory of Sutton Foster, the glorious return of Hilary Duff, the hilarity of Debi Mazar and Miriam Shor, and the pure, unadulterated sex appeal of Nico Tortorella. Not to mention smart, witty dialogue, a compelling storyline, and—perhaps my favorite part—the fact that the show is set in the book publishing industry.
As someone who has spent four years interning and now working at four different publishing houses, I was fully expecting to enjoy Younger…while pointing out all the ways it makes the publishing industry seem more glamorous than it is. However, I must give credit where credit is due. Younger has done a damn good job portraying so many aspects different aspects of #publishinglife. Sure, I laughed out loud when Liza said she started as marketing assistant at Random House and became an editor by 25, and sure, most publishing offices do not look like a West Elm catalog. And yeah okay fine, some of Kelsey’s skirts would cost a quarter of my yearly salary.
But all in all, they got more things right than wrong.
1. “Set up a Twitter account for Jane Austen” is a reasonable, everyday request.
Marketing repackaged classics to a younger generation (those damn Millennials!) is a real, prevalent point of concern in today’s publishing world. So when Liza’s boss Diana Trout asked her to start tweeting as Jane Austen in the series premiere I thought, “Yup, that’s about right.”
2. You can indeed wear flannel and combat boots to a publishing house.
You may have been shocked and appalled when you saw Liza’s casual outfits compared to Diana and editor Kelsey Peters’ haute couture. But actually, Liza hits the nail on the head. The dress code at a publishing house tends to be quite casual, especially for a marketing assistant like Liza.
3. You will occasionally Google something like “Selling Joyce Carol Oates to Millennials.”
Again, when I saw Liza type these words into Google I was immediately taken back to my intern days of trying to come up with answers to tough, big-picture questions. You know it’s stupid but hell, sometimes great brainstorms are sparked by impossible Google searches.
4. Editors really do have to stay up all night reading hot new books to get authors.
Not that I’m an editor or even an editorial assistant (and thank the Lord for that), but I do know that this is the case. When Kelsey has to stay up all night reading a massive novel from in-demand Swedish author Anton Bjornberg to get a jump on other houses, that’s pretty much a day in the life. If the buzz from literary agents says that a manuscript could be the next Goldfinch, editors need to hop on it ASAP. And when editors ask, sometimes marketing managers like me get in on the binge-reading action.
5. Sometimes authors are absurdly difficult.
When Trout Pout asks Bjornberg about his thoughts on marketing, his response is: “My thoughts on marketing is that I couldn’t care less. And if you knew anything about my book you would know that.” Ouch. While I can’t say that I’ve ever personally worked for someone who shat all over my marketing efforts, but still, the struggle is real. Interestingly enough, it’s often the (er, not so literary) types who are the most difficult, throwing hissy fit if the font of their name isn’t large enough or their male cover model isn’t hot enough. Oy vey….
6. There really are no straight attractive single men.
Diana is the one-liner queen, and I still think about this gem from season one on a regular basis: “Finding an attractive straight man at a publishing house is rare. It’s like finding Louboutins at a yard sale.” Because let me tell you, a truer statement hath ne’er been said. Seriously, it’s a fricken’ wasteland outchea.
7. Publishing can be a very supportive, girl power-y place.
I loved that as soon as Liza came in as the new girl, Kelsey was there saying, “I’ve got your back.” Because for the most part, that really is what it’s like. Since there are so many women in publishing—and let’s be honest, no one’s making that much money—it’s a fairly non-competitive, supportive environment. (Again, I’ve never been an editorial assistant so I haven’t experienced the feeding frenzy when an editor finally leaves the company. But the point stands.)
The girlfriends I’ve made in publishing have been job perk numero uno. From design to marketing to PR to editorial to advertising to finance, the women I’ve become friends with in publishing are genuine, wonderful people and fantastic friends (who also love to talk about books, go figure). That, above all, is the aspect of book publishing I’m so thrilled that Younger continually portrays.
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