Bri Ragin, ’15, is an editorial assistant at HarperCollins for its Children’s Department.
I read manuscripts and then do an edit letter of suggestions or ideas on what can be done to the manuscript. I take a look at submissions sent in from agents and write reader’s reports or rejections. I also do administrative work.
What is your favorite part about your job?
I enjoy reading the manuscripts and finding interesting stories I have never read. I also enjoy helping the authors wrap their heads around their own ideas. It’s great seeing everything from start to finish because there is a lot that goes into creating these novels. I enjoy working with other departments, too, like design, production and even finance. There are a lot of players in the publishing world.
Did you always want to be an English major?
I always wanted to go into publishing. Being an English major at SJU really helped me make connections in that field to get jobs. Dr. [Peter] Norberg put me in contact with another alumnus who worked in publishing, and through other connections by her, I was able to get in touch with the editor at HarperCollins.
What did you love most about being an English major and the English department?
I loved the professors the most. I took Tom Coyne’s and Dr. [Jo] Parker’s classes a lot to perfect my writing skills and analyze literature because I love doing that. I took April Lindner’s class on young adult writing. Her class helped me hone my editing and writing skills, which helped me to land the job in the Children’s Department at HarperCollins. The one-on-one teacher-to-student attention you get at St. Joe’s and the relationship it builds really helps your time there and even afterwards with networking.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I landed in the right spot in publishing for the editorial field and would love to continue on this track. I want to work up this ladder and produce more diverse books that younger people can relate to for their generations. Diversity is a real issue in publishing, and I want to, one day, acquire a number of #ownvoices books by talented, diverse authors.
Any advice for rising English Majors or those in your field?
You just have to be open to the idea of moving New York and be ready to make the move. I wasn’t living in New York when I got the job, but if I wanted to work in New York publishing, I had to show that I was committed by moving to the city. It’s also great to get your foot in the door because once you’re in, you’re in, and you can move around to what suits you best. In general, try different positions in marketing or editing or scouting. It’s important to move around and find what you like. It’s also important to find your own voice in your writing because having a unique voice sets you apart from other candidates. Get internships, have a good cover letter and don’t wait until you’re already graduated to apply for jobs.
—Alisa Verratti, ‘18