Next up in our ongoing “Get a Job” series is the delightful Emma Alpaugh, senior publicist at Timber Press. Here she is looking surprisingly unharried. Don’t let that fool you!
What do you do for a living?
I am Senior Publicist at Timber Press, a Portland, Oregon, publisher of books on gardening, ornamental and edible horticulture, garden design, sustainability, natural history, and the glorious Pacific Northwest.
What was your first job in the plant world?
Timber was my very first job in the plant world! Although I have always appreciated the natural world, my knowledge of gardening was very limited. I started working here because of my interest in book publishing, not plant life. How quickly I gained a strong appreciation for both! When I first started, the editors must have cringed when they heard my mispronunciation of cotoneasters, saxifrages and viburnums. But I’m proud to say not only can I pronounce many uncommon plant names with confidence, but I can actually identify them in the real world. I have relatives in the lower Hudson River Valley who are both in the publishing industry and avid gardeners; their garden is one of the most magical places, which I have been visiting since I was very young. I will never forget the time I saw them soon after being hired. When they heard the words Timber Press, they lit up, pointed to their bursting-at-the-seams bookshelf, and exclaimed: “Timber is THE best publisher of gardening books.” I felt very proud. Now, when visiting, I drop horticulture knowledge to win cool points.
What’s your typical day like?
Being a book publicist means no one day looks the same. We have two publishing seasons (Fall and Spring), so all of our projects are very seasonally geared. Right now, as the leaves are falling, I am in the mindframe of budding cherry blossoms as I feverishly pitch the new Spring season to magazines and other outlets. We are constantly a season or two ahead, but at the same time in the present (right now our exciting Fall release campaigns are unfolding). So there is never a dull moment. The majority of my day is reaching out to media professionals, connecting with authors, meeting with our sales, marketing and editorial team, and practicing the art of multitasking. It’s a good thing we have such quality coffee in Portland to keep up!
What’s the coolest thing you get to do at work, and what’s the nastiest, most boring, most soul-sucking awful thing you have to do at work?
The coolest thing I get to do at work? Where do I begin? I love so much of what I do. There is something very energizing about pitching an idea to a writer and getting them excited about a new book. I love traveling to NY to have face time with media. I also love being a part of the many creative projects that we do in-house, such as photo shoots and promotional videos. I feel lucky to work with such talented, smart, personable colleagues and authors. The not-so-glamorous part of my job? Physical labor! Books are heavy, and we ship quite a few each week in our publicity department.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking about getting into your line of work?
Do it! But be prepared to be tireless—the position takes a fair amount of energy, organization, and drive. And it is crucial to really like connecting with people (of all personalities!) and enjoy collaborative work.