Meet the staff: Caelyn Cobb

Over the past few months, our editorial team has undergone some major transformations, welcoming *three* new smart & lovely editors on board! We thought it was high time to introduce you to them and their work, so get ready—first up is Assistant Editor Caelyn Cobb…

Can you tell us a little about your role at NYU Press? What subjects do you work on?
I support Ilene Kalish, Executive Editor, on the Sociology, Criminology, Politics, and Women’s Studies lists. I’m the point person for authors on a variety of things, from contracts, to submitting final manuscripts, to blurbs. I also manage some of our peer reviews and prepare new projects for review by our internal board.

Where did you work before coming to NYU Press?
I previously worked at Oxford University Press for a number of editors in Politics, Music, and Dance. I’ve also had internships at the Poetry Foundation, the University of Chicago Press, and the University of Rochester Press.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?
It’s always the most fun when a book has just published, and you can tell that the author and the field are getting really psyched about it. In the social sciences, particularly, I’ve had the opportunity to work on books that release just in time to really impact the public debate on a given issue, from nuclear energy to political unrest in Egypt. It’s the best kind of payoff for all of the hard work that we do!

Why did you go into (academic) publishing?
I originally wanted to be a journalist, but I found that I liked working behind the scenes on the writing more than doing the reporting. So, I tried out a few internships to see if I’d like it, and it just so happened that my hometown (Rochester, NY) and my college town (Chicago) both had a lot of academic publishing. I fell into the field in that way, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

What’s the most obscure subject/project you’ve ever worked on?
Well, I do have to say, one thing I like about academic publishing is that no matter how small or ‘obscure’ the field you’re publishing in, you are always going to encounter someone who’s really interested in the work going on there. However, the music theory books I worked on at my last job were always totally over my head. Writing cover copy for them was so tough—tritones and quarter tones are just not my thing.

Why do you think academic publishing is important?
I think helping scholars reach a wider audience beyond their institution, or their specific field, or even outside their profession as educators is an important endeavor. That’s a big part of the work academic presses do and it’s valuable work.

What are you reading these days? Got a favorite NYU Press book?
I tend to go back and forth between nonfiction and fiction. I just finished up Intern Nation by Ross Perlin, an exposé about unpaid internships in the US, and I’m now working through a great novel by Victor Lavelle called Big Machine, which has been called “Invisible Man meets X-Files” (take that as you will).  As for NYU Press books, I’m looking forward to reading Pray the Gay Away and Planned Obsolescence.

Any insider tips to breaking into the publishing industry?
Be flexible! If you start out thinking that you want to, say, work in editorial on poetry books only, you’re going to have a really rough time finding a job. Yet, if you’re open minded about the type of books you work on, or the role you take on in the industry (marketing, production, etc.), you’ll have a better chance of actually getting into publishing and being able to make your way toward a career that’s a good fit for you. You also might just find that you like what you end up working on more than you thought.

What’s your most preferred way of reading these days? Good ol’ book or fancy schmancy e-reader?
It depends. If the book is more than 300 pages, I will probably want that as an ebook. I carry around enough as it is!

If you weren’t in editorial, which team would you be on?
Marketing! My first few publishing internships were in marketing. You secretly run the show in that department. It’s great.

What are some of your hobbies?
Yoga and cooking are the big ones for me. I also am a huge internet nerd and can spend entire afternoons on blogs in pretty much any subject. (Not on workdays, of course…)

Have you ever received any great advice about your jobs from a colleague or a mentor?
The best advice I ever got was to “put in your time.” It’s easy to come out of college and expect to accomplish a lot right away, but I eventually realized that you can learn a lot by sitting back and seeing how those who have accomplished a lot (actually) do what they do.

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