Margaret Harrison is the Director of Fulfillment Solutions at Ingram Content Group
What are some of your job responsibilities?
If you’ve worked in publishing, you might have heard of Ingram, but you might not know just how much they do to support the industry. From printing books, to distributing metadata for 15 million books, to marketing services for publishers, to distribution to libraries, schools, and bookstores around the world… Ingram does so many things to support book sales behind the scenes.
My job is a ton of fun. I work in our print on demand division, called Lightning Source. Our team manages non-traditional publisher relationships, including Amazon KDP, Blurb, Lulu, and many other independent publishers and author services companies. Can you believe that we print as many books for indie publishers and author services, including our own IngramSpark, as we do for traditional publishers? Both businesses are growing a ton, and it’s fascinating and exciting to be part of it.
How did the classes you took during your time in the program prepare you to work in the industry?
When I started at Pace, I was already working in the publishing industry, but my experience had been limited to ebooks and digital. I knew that I wanted to be versatile in both print and ebooks, but I knew that in order to avoid starting over in my career I would have to bridge the knowledge gap on the print side of things. Learning about Book Production and also Marketing in the form of galleys and ARCs gave me the print-book vocabulary and awareness I needed to start interviewing. During the program I landed a job at Oxford University Press, still doing ebook operations but embedded within the print production team. I would have been completely lost without the skills I learned in my Pace MS in Publishing coursework!
What were some of the highlights during your graduate experience?
Being mentored by Manuela Soares will always be my biggest highlight of the program (and a highlight of my career!). What attracted me to the publishing industry is the warmth, wit, and kindness of the people, and Manuela is a perfect industry ambassador. She coached me through my graduate thesis, which stirred an interest in metadata that ultimately got me hired by Ingram and led me to co-author a book we published in 2018 called Metadata Essentials. Thad McElroy has used it in his class in the program.
After I graduated I had the opportunity to come back and lecture for our visiting Chinese publishing students during the summer. While this was technically post-graduate work, it stuck with me as a highlight of the great outreach and engagement in the MS in Publishing program at Pace.
What advice do you have for current students in the program?
Remember that the faculty may one day be your colleagues, so foster those relationships! One professor and I had the opportunity to develop some new business together just last year. I had kept in touch with him in the almost 10 years since I took his class and an opportunity came up for our companies to collaborate.
Because publishing is a cottage industry and relationships are so important, work on your LinkedIn connections, volunteer to help at industry events (whether virtual or in person), and attend distinguished professor lectures as much as you can. Sign up for Publishers Lunch and the Publishers Weekly e-newsletters.
Where do you hope to see yourself in 5-10 years?
Still at Ingram, I hope! There are so many interesting teams within our organization, whether it’s working with retailers like Amazon or Bookshop.org to help get books into the hands of readers, or providing full-service distribution for publishers like Grove Atlantic through our Publisher Services division, or even our new consumer marketing division that’s researching consumer reading and taste preferences. There’s still a lot to do!
What are your favorite aspects of the publishing industry?
For me, it’s the people and the purpose. There are countless people I admire and look up to, from colleagues to clients, and it’s an absolute privilege to get to work with them every day. Last year, one of my clients noticed how stressed I seemed trying to supervise my sons’ virtual learning while I was in a meeting with her. A few days later, a giant box full of books for them showed up. I was so touched by her kindness for our family. My sons have received so many books over the years from colleagues! That’s the purpose part. At the end of the day, we’re all working to get more great books in the hands of more readers. It’s a wonderful common goal that inspires me in my work and makes me feel proud in my personal life as a parent and member of my community.
What are you reading right now?
Well, I’m in the last semester of my MBA program at Vanderbilt University, so most of my reading right now is case studies and articles! But, I’m listening to Promised Land on the Audiobooks.com app during my daily walks. A book that I recommend to all of my ambitious team members, especially young women and parents, is called The Leader You Want to Be by Amy Jen Su, published by Harvard Business Review Press. It helps with prioritization and bringing your best self to work (even if you’re still in your PJs!). Above all, I think it can really help to raise your self-awareness, which is a skill many employers, including publishing houses, are looking for in the hiring process.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Job hunting, especially in this market, can be a daunting process. A friend of mine recently sent me this helpful article on ways to combat imposter syndrome and self-doubt. If you’re feeling this way, please know you’re not alone, and I hope you’ll identify some helpful tips on ways to feel more empowered, whether during an interview or just psyching yourself up for the day ahead.