Marcela Landres is the author of the e-book How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You, and she loves her job. She publishes the Latinidad e-zine, and she helps writers get published by editing their work and educating them on the business side of publishing.
1. What do you love about your job?
I get paid to read—what could be cooler?
2. Did you always know this was the job or career path for you?
No. My parents are immigrants from Ecuador, and when I was a wee lass they decreed I would grow up to be a doctor. To that end, I took advanced science classes in high school and applied to colleges with good pre-med programs.
Then I hit organic chemistry lab.
Organic chemistry lab taught me becoming a doctor was not my dream, but my parents’ dream. For the first time in my life, I asked myself, “What do I want?” I chose to pursue a career related to my greatest passion—reading—because even if I didn’t become rich I would be happy. Today I am, indeed, a happy gal.
3. What are the most important lessons you have you learned along the way?
Be brutally honest with yourself about your strengths and flaws. If you don’t play well with others, don’t choose a career that requires teamwork. If you hate to be alone, don’t become self-employed.
4. Tell us about a defining moment for you related to your work.
Early in my career, agents were reluctant to submit to me because I hadn’t yet acquired anything, but I couldn’t acquire anything because agents wouldn’t submit to me. All up-and-coming editors grapple with this catch-22. One of my passions was, and is, feng shui. At the time, nearly every publisher had a feng shui book on its list—except Simon & Schuster. I pointed out this hole on our list to anyone who would listen. One day, a fellow editorial assistant gave me a proposal for a feng shui book that was submitted to his boss, a woman who was not into New Age stuff. To make a long story short, that proposal resulted in a book I published called Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Karen Rauch Carter—it remains to this day one of the bestselling feng shui primers in print.
The moral of the story? When you hit a roadblock, you can complain or constructively communicate what you want. The Universe responds better to communicators than to complainers.
5. What advice do you have for people looking to find work they love, in your field, or any field?
For folks who want to break into book publishing, attend the Columbia Publishing Course. To learn more, read my Q&A with Director Lindy Hess.
For folks in any field, recognize that every job, no matter how cool, involves grunt work. Even Lady Gaga has a part of her job she hates—record executives, constant dieting, having no time for sex, etc. If you have the skill set to be good at the grunt work instead of merely tolerating it, you are more likely to be successful. For example, magazine editors who make advertisers happy are more likely to be promoted than magazine editors who ignore advertisers. When choosing a career, opt for the one where your strengths are of benefit to the boring parts of your job as well as the fun parts.