September 28, 2022

eat Lakes Publishing, visited Wittenberg as part of the English and communications departments’ fall colloquium series. Bayley Auditorium filled with students, predominantly English and communications majors, interested in learning about the publishing field.

“I’m here because I’m interested in publishing my own writing someday, so I think it will be helpful to hear what it’s like on the other side from publishers themselves,” Samantha Reynolds, ‘20, said.

Ashley Eckenrode, ‘19, also shared her interest in the event.

“I want to eventually pursue a career in publishing,” Eckenrode said.

Great Lakes Publishing prints mainly travel guides, such as the magazines “Long Weekends” and “Ohio Magazine.” However, the colloquium’s hosts, Claudia Plumley and Kelsey Wagner, focus primarily on custom publications that meet individual clients’ needs in their work, although they broadened the focus to match the scope of Great Lakes Publishing as a whole. Quite experienced in the publishing field, Plumley works as a managing editor for Ohio Custom Media, while Wagner, an associate editor who works alongside Plumley, presents herself as more of a novice to the field, having graduated from Ohio State University only a couple of years ago.

“We aim to produce travel guides that are inspirational,” Plumley said. “To reach our goal of an inspirational publication, we have to find a balance between content and advertisers, meaning we must satisfy the needs of both.”

Plumley discussed the elephant in the room–the societal notion of print media’s bleak job outlook and shrinking audience following the advent of web-based mediums.

“We focus primarily on travel and tourism because these areas have a steady readership,” Plumley said. “You hear a lot about how print mediums are dying due to more online media recently, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Travel and tourism are insulated markets that usually have clientele.”

Plumley encouraged students to enter the field, and discussed the skills needed to succeed. Bolded on a PowerPoint slide of desirable skills was: “good writing skills and even better editing skills.”

“You obviously have to be a good writer, but you also need to be a good editor,” Plumley said. “While you often write your own stories, you also edit a lot of stories–stories written by people who aren’t necessarily writing experts, especially within the travel and tourism field.”

Plumley regards humility as the most important skill for success in publishing.

“You have to remain humble,” Plumley said. “Nobody likes a know-it-all, and some clients get angry when you edit their writing. They sometimes will force you to change it back even if you don’t like the original version, which can be very frustrating.”

Wagner considered “reaching out to potential contacts” the most important skill needed to succeed.

“You have to reach out to anyone you know who could potentially provide you with opportunities to gain experience,” she said.

Wagner initially started as an intern at Ohio Custom Media straight out of college and was offered a full-time position there.

“Never think you won’t get an internship from lack of experience because that’s why you’re applying for an internship,” Wagner said. “You won’t get every position you apply for, but you can always learn something about the application process, interviewing or any other skills that might be useful later.”

Students found the information presented at the colloquium particularly pertinent to the notoriously small market for creative fields.

“They provided information on internships that was helpful because it’s not something we’re often given details about as college students,” Carly Schneider, ‘20, said. “We’re usually simply told that we need to get internships, not how exactly to go about that process. It was really helpful to hear about what potential employers are looking for in applicants.”


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