By Nicole Raymond
Maggie Hilliard began her career in publishing by earning two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison: one in English and one in History.
While attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Maggie worked part-time as an acquisitions and marketing assistant at the University of Wisconsin (UW) Press. According to Maggie, her assistant position exposed her to a traditional publishing environment.
Maggie currently works for DailyLit Publishing in New York City, New York. DailyLit Publishing is actually Maggie’s first post-college position since she graduated in 2007. “Though, I worked as an assistant at the UW Press, and given their small size and limited budget, the Press relied heavily on student workers,” Maggie said. “In particular, I was responsible for producing and editing the copy for the majority of the Press’ books and coordinating the production of our seasonal catalogs.”
DailyLit Publishing is a small startup and gives Maggie the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects. Her duties are varied, including content writing for the website and blog, monitoring forums, and running the Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“I also coordinate and process the books we put up on the site, oversee interns, and update various aspects of our site,” Maggie said. “I also write to members of the press and trade when we have announcements and communicate with our various partners to keep projects moving forward.”
Obstacles in Technical Communication
“As a leading publisher of quality book content and a developer of innovative distribution channels, DailyLit has one foot in publishing and one in the digital world,” Maggie said. According to Maggie, DailyLit Publishing holds a unique position, which causes opportunities and challenges. The biggest challenge that Maggie has faced at DailyLit Publishing is explaining new models and ideas to publishing professionals and others who may be resistant to non-traditional books.
Moments in Technical Communication
Recently, Maggie was at a conference that featured talks given by industry leaders, including the CEO/publisher of a large trade house. “The speaker said that he had recognized the importance of Twitter and had started his own account,” Maggie said. “However, he mentioned that he had hired an assistant to tweet for him – in other words, he had a ‘ghost-tweeter’.”
“Several murmurs in the audience confirmed what I was thinking,” Maggie said, “It seemed that he didn’t ‘get it.’” According to Maggie, it is important to be genuine when interacting with people online.
A Day in the Life
According to Maggie there is no “typical” day in the job at DailyLit Publishing. “It is a bad cliché, but it’s true,” Maggie said. “Most days I do some writing – usually for our blog – and I tweet something each day.” Maggie also works on book projects during her daily routine, and she often speaks with the partners about projects that are moving forward.
Advice for Aspiring Technical Communicators
“Practice, of course, makes perfect – the more writing you can do, the better,” Maggie said. “Read widely. You should always have an RSS reader full of articles from relevant blogs (and if you don’t know what they are, you should)."
“Most importantly, make yourself a presence online – become a thought or information leader in your area of interest,” Maggie said. “Blog, tweet, and interact with people in your field. Think of yourself as a brand to develop and sell. That way, when it’s time to find a job, you’ll have a great head start.”