Columbia Publishing Course

Columbia Publishing Course

Welcome to the Columbia Publishing Course, the shortest graduate school in the country. It would take you a year in an entry-level position in publishing to learn what you will learn in six-weeks here, and ten years to meet all the people you will meet. For almost sixty years, the course has been training young men and women for careers as editors, literary agents, publishers, designers, publicists, and more. Graduates can be found in every kind of job, at major magazines and publishing houses across the nation.

Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith signs books after an informal
talk at the Publishing Course.

If you are considering a career in book, magazine, or electronic publishing, the Columbia Publishing Course will give you the tools and the training you need to succeed:

  • Broad exposure to current issues in publishing
  • Unparalleled access to top publishing professionals
  • Hands-on publishing experience
  • Comparison of publishing types that informs career decisions
  • Extensive career placement support
  • Access to a large, active alumni network

Highlights of 2006

Students in the 2006 session of the Columbia Publishing Course met some of the most influential people in the publishing world.  Legendary editor Robert Gottlieb (Alfred A. Knopf) shared his experiences working with writers such as Toni Morrison and President Clinton. Sara Nelson, editor-in-chief of Publisher’s Weekly, gave a hilarious account of the world of book reviews. Eric Chinski (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux) and Tina Pohlman (Harcourt Brace) evaluated students’ book ideas and discussed their marketability and originality with the class. A panel of graphic novelists shared some secrets about this growing industry. Morgan Entrekin (Grove/Atlantic) returned to the course to talk about his independent press.  A visit to HarperCollins Publishers let students observe the day-to-day operations at a publishing house. Ed Victor, international literary agent, and Rene Alegria, executive editor of Rayo, stopped by to talk to students over lunch.

Walter Bagehot
Legendary editor Bob Gottlieb with alum
Chris Knutsen.

Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazine, was the keynote speaker for the magazine section, and spoke about the importance of branding and quality content. Dorothy Wickenden told stories about her life as an editor at The New Yorker. Kristin Van Ogtrop from Real Simple explained international editions, and William Wackermann, the publisher of Glamour, talked about the business side of the magazine world. Michelle Burford from The Oprah Magazine lunched with magazine hopefuls. Panelists discussed online and international publishing and freelance writing. Condé Nast hosted the class in the Frank Gehry executive suite, giving students the opportunity to talk to editors like Anna Wintour (Vogue), Brandon Holley (Jane),  David Remnick (The New Yorker) and Cyndi Leive (Glamour).

Students meet in small groups with both magazine and book editors to discuss manuscript reports and get a better feel for what the duties of an editor actually are. Editors and other speakers are also available for one-on-one chats at the famous “sherry hours” following several of the panels.

The workshops are the heart of the Columbia Publishing Course. During both the magazine and book workshops, professionals come to the course for the week to guide students as they start mock publishing houses and magazines. Every student has a specific role within the house or magazine and meets with faculty individually to learn the ins and outs of that position. This gives students an opportunity to try out a job before entering the field, and many use that knowledge in their publishing careers. The amount of work produced in these weeks is enormous, and for years afterward, alums remember the late nights and long hours spent creating their publishing house or magazine.

The Columbia Publishing Course has an excellent job placement rate. Over 40 companies attended the job fair at the end of this year’s course, and many students have already been placed in excellent positions at places like The Huffington Post, The New Yorker, Outside Magazine, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Alfred A. Knopf, W. W. Norton, Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Grove/Atlantic, and International Creative Management.

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