YPG Digital and DBW Present Publishing’s Leading Ladies

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Today women are doing it all. From taking on executive roles within the industry and publishing some of the largest franchises we have ever seen both print and TV to balancing work and family, it seems now more than ever women are becoming Jacks Janes of all trades. In an event hosted by the AAP’s Young to Publishing Group and Digital Book World (DBW), attendees were able to hear the real-life stories of four prominent wave-makers in the publishing world.

On Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 over 65 YPG members and guests of DBW gathered at Workman headquarters to discuss “Women in Publishing: Career Opportunities, Challenges, and Advice.” The female publishing powerhouses included Sara Domville, president of F+W Media; Deborah Forte, president of media at Scholastic; Megan Tingley, SVP & publisher at Hachette Book Group’s Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; and Angela Tribelli, chief marketing officer at HarperCollins.

Moderator Jeremy Greenfield, editorial director at DBW, began the panel by asking how these women came into publishing and what led them to where they are today. Tribelli had a magazine career track beginning at AmEx publishing, Conde Nast, and Paper magazine and then headed digital marketing for the Bloomberg campaign before coming to HarperCollins as their CMO.

Tingley had the most traditional path starting at Hachette not long after she graduated college. From working her first job as a temp at Playboy magazine—where she joked “all great children’s publishing is developed,”—she became an editorial assistant at Little, Brown, worked her way up the editorial ladder, and finally became the head of the imprint and moved to New York City in 2002.

Domville started at a packaging company and found international rights was where her interest lay. Moving onto Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, she was able to work on many brand translations, including the Tolkien estate, where she credits her fame to a Pharaoh East translation of The Hobbit. Transitioning from Macmillan to HarperCollins to David + Charles Group, and finally becoming president of F+W Media, she moved stateside in 2008.

Forte came to NYC after college and gave herself two weeks to find a job—or until her money ran out, whichever came first. She found a job at Viking Press and later left for Scholastic to head up “new business” where she started their audiobooks program and then went on to getting children’s stories booked as TV shows. The dissemination of intellectual property and media is where she has thrived ever since.

Starting their careers when only Ivy Leaguers seemed to get the lucrative publishing gigs of entry-level assistants, these women pioneered their way into the publishing world through media, magazines, and old-fashioned luck. But aside from the luck, Greenfield asked the women about the importance of mentors and what role they played in their own careers.

Most all of the women agreed you don’t need to go and seek a mentor. They are acquired both personally and professionally, through all of life’s transitions, whether it be an outstanding boss or someone you pitched an idea to that made you think. In reference to the latter, Forte remembers her first meeting with Sheila Nevins (currently a television producer and President of HBO Documentary Films), her chance to get books on TV. Forte pitched The Baby-Sitter’s Club books to Nevins. Nevins asked for a synopsis and eight episodes straight away. Forte was forced to think quickly on her feet for what she saw this TV series being, and then asked who was going to produce it because she didn’t have any experience in TV production. Nevins in turn told her to never say that and to come back to her with a budget.

Forte was throwing herself in headfirst and said Nevins was extremely encouraging in teaching her that opportunities don’t always come twice and to believe in your abilities (even if you aren’t sure you have them quite yet). Forte still believes one of the best business policies is to try things, be able to think quickly, and learn from people that bring out the best in you, not just skills acquired along the way.

Overall, the primary messages of the night were : Mentors are important; make sure you are okay with giving up one thing in order to do another (and make sure to switch this daily); say “yes” to all opportunities where your talents and work are highlighted; and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Top 5 Pieces of Advice from the Panelists:

1)    In any given day there is only so much you can do. Make sure you balance the essentials: eating, sleeping, work, exercise, relationships.

2)    Judiciously self-promote and make sure your work is being recognized.

3)    Take every opportunity you can. Take on speaking engagements, panels, etc. to get yourself and your work recognized.

4)    Be comfortable talking about money and numbers. This could be learning about the P&L (profit and loss statement) or it could be about salary.

5)    ASK questions and stay curious, this is how opportunities are created.




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