Elliane Mellet is a designer at Lee & Low.
What are your job responsibilities?
As a Designer I design book covers and interiors, research and hire artists, and do a lot of digging through stock photography websites. Though because Lee and Low is a smaller publisher we tend to wear a few different hats so I also create various sales and marketing materials including advanced reader copies, galleys, promotional images, and I’m currently learning how to create GIFs.
How did the classes you took during your time in the program prepare you to work in the industry?
My classes at Pace were so incredibly helpful in that I went into the industry already knowing most of the terminology for things like BLADs, Galleys, ARCs, P&Ls, and so much more. Pace gave me a thorough understanding of how each department communicates with and works with each other during the book creation process. Having that knowledge made all the difference as I had zero industry experience which made the learning curve in my entry-level job much less steeper than it could have been.
What were some of the highlights during your graduate experience?
My favorite story that I always tell people about my graduate experience is when I went to Book Expo at the Javitz Center. The tickets are expensive and I would never have been able to go had Pace not given students the opportunity to go for free. I thought I was going for the free books and keynote speakers, which there was a lot of, but our professors had stressed the importance of meeting people in the industry and keeping in touch with them so when, on the train home, I realized I was sitting across from a woman who had also just come from the event, I struck up a conversation with her. That woman ended up passing along my resume to the right people which got me my first position in the industry.
My second favorite story is another Book Expo one. Through Paul Levitz’s class we were able to volunteer to work the Boom Studios booth where I met (and hugged) the original black Power Ranger. It changed my life.
Did you have an internship? If so, what was it and how did it prepare you for your current position?
I interned with Simon and Schuster in the Production and Managing Editorial departments. At that time, I was still unsure where exactly I belonged in the industry, but after that experience I was sure it was not in the departments that I had interned with. That sounds like I didn’t enjoy it, but that is not at all the case. It was the best internship experience I had ever had and it opened my eyes to where I did and did not belong. It was so helpful having experience in departments that I don’t currently work in because I learned what those departments need from me as a designer. And as an added bonus, my internship boss was the loveliest woman who has given me an amazing job reference on more than one occasion.
What advice do you have for current students in the program?
Make friends with your peers – all of them. Publishing is small and you are going to run into your classmates time and time again. I think publishing tends to attract introverts like myself so I know it’s hard to leave your comfort zone at the back of the classroom, but making connections makes all the difference. Volunteer at events, be nice to everyone you meet, and maintain those relationships.
Where do you hope to be in five to ten years?
In a house with a Pinterest-worthy reading nook and a little library of books that I helped bring to the world – old friends that I can visit time and time again! But I do hope that I am still at Lee and Low in five to ten years. They are such a special company with a mission that speaks to why I got into publishing in the first place.
What are your favorite aspects of the publishing industry?
I love working with people who have similar interests. I work in children’s publishing and my favorite thing is that the end goal for all of us is always about the kids and making sure they and their experiences are represented in our books, making sure that they are learning empathy, and making sure that they have access to these stories.
What are you reading right now? Either for work or for pleasure.
I am currently reading Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz for work and Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu for pleasure, both of which I highly recommend.