Junior Reads Into a Future in Publishing


Emma Paolini interns at Penguin Random House, focusing on marketing. (Courtesy of Emma Paolini)

Imagine walking into work every day knowing there was a possibility you could meet John Green. That’s how Emma Paolini, FCRH ’21, feels everyday at her internship with publishing giant Penguin Random House.

This internship is Paolini’s second with one of the big five publishers. Over the summer, she worked for Celadon books, an imprint of Macmillan. Before that, she worked for a small literary agency, helping her boss go through book submissions and passing on the ones that she liked.

Paolini’s career success thus far can be traced back to her passion for books, which she has been cultivating since middle school. Her favorite thing to do between the ages of 11 and 14 was to go on the Scholastic message boards and look at the publishers of books she loved, she said.

In high school, she turned her interests away from books and publishing and focused her energy on a steadier career. She decided she was going to major in history, participate in mock trial and eventually go to law school.

“I thought that I really liked it, and then come freshman-sophomore year I got stuck in two history classes I did not like,” she said. “I was like, obviously this is a sign that I don’t like history, what am I going to do now?”

It was a whirlwind combination of getting good grades in her current English class, a realization that she’s always enjoyed her English classes and flyers to apply for a creative writing concentration that led Paolini to declare her major in English. She also decided to apply for the creative writing concentration and joined Fordham’s literary magazine, The Ampersand.

“I would so much rather be working in publishing, not making a lot of money and maybe having to compete for a job, rather than going to law school, spending a ton of money to do something I don’t think I even want to do,” she said.

Paolini’s connections through The Ampersand helped her find her first internship with a literary agency. Through that internship, she learned that she did not want to work in editorial, but rather work in marketing and publicity.

Her connections through GO! helped her land her second internship with Macmillan, and she now works for GP Putnam Sons, an imprint under Penguin Random House that has published books such as “The Help” and “Where the Crawdads Sing.”

“The cool thing about publishing is that everyone who works in publishing does it because they love books,” she said. “No matter what, you always have something to talk about with people. So, I feel at home because I’ve been loving books since I was little.” Paolini said she is currently working on the campaign for a new book called “Such a Fun Age.”

“At Putnam there are so many books that we’re marketing that I’m very excited about and when I was talking about ‘Such A Fun Age,’ I read that book, and I was like, wow, this book is really great and I want people to be able to read it and I want to get it into the right hands,” she said. She said lately she’s been looking for Instagram book influencers, or “bookstagramers” and asking them if they want to read and review the book. She said she also got to write a press release for another book.

“I do a lot of work with bloggers and bookstagramers,” she said. “I mail the book to librarians and independent booksellers because those are a lot of people who do the heavy lifting of advertising for books.”

Paolini said she has learned a lot through her internships so far. Professionally, she said she has learned a lot about social media and how to write succinctly. On a personal side, she said she has learned a lot about how to advocate for herself in a professional environment.

“It can be intimidating sometimes to go into an environment that’s kind of prestigious sometimes, and feel like you’re really out of your depth, but everyone’s in the same boat in terms of internships,” she said.

Paolini said she hopes to work at a publishing job similar to her current internship after graduation.

“I want people to know that following what you want to do, there’s usually a way,” she said. “Don’t let anybody tell you that what you want to do is unrealistic because there is a way. Those jobs exist and they’re going to need to be filled.”

Outside of working at Penguin Random House, Paolini is very involved on Fordham’s campus. She runs the social media for both The Ampersand and Fordham Experimental Theater (FET) and is also a member of FET’s umbrella group Black Sheep Performance Poetry. Paolini has participated in GO! trips and was an orientation leader for the last two years. Her most recent read was “How Not to Die Alone” by Richard Roper, and she highly recommends it.