In celebration of W. W. Norton & Company’s 100th year of publishing, we’re offering readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the bookmaking process—the people behind the books and the products we create! Through our Behind the Book blog series, discover who plays a role in creating a book, what daily life looks like at Norton, and what being part of an independent and employee-owned company means.
Katie Bolger joined W. W. Norton as the Institutional Sales intern, and she became the Composition Media Editorial Assistant shortly after. She was promoted to Media Assistant Editor and took on the Communication list with Joy Cranshaw before moving into her current role. As the New Jersey College Sales Rep, Katie visits various campuses across her state and works with instructors and bookstores to provide valuable course materials to students.
What is your current role and what part do you play in the book publishing process?
I am currently the New Jersey College Sales Representative. I help put our books in the hands of college professors and show them how our learning tools can best support their course goals and their students. I also coordinate with college bookstores and our Norton support team to ensure students get their correct course materials in a timely manner.
For your current role, what does an average day look like?
When colleges are in session, I spend an average day planning and executing a campus visit. I head to campus—wearing comfortable shoes—to meet professors, discuss their course needs, and demonstrate how our books and learning tools will work for them. I also drop in on current adopters to let them know about new editions, hear about campus initiatives, and collect feedback for our marketing and editorial teams. I manage bookstore relationships by visiting store managers to ask about the state of Inclusive Access on campus, confirm ISBNs, and learn more about the ordering process.
What skills do you need to succeed in your job? Did any previous work or life experience help you in your role?
Being a sales rep involves intense time management and organization skills, as well as the abilities to listen carefully, offer solutions, and know when to ask for help from my fellow Nortonians. I began developing many of these skills as a college student. In addition to my full course load, I worked 3 jobs on campus: resident assistant, writing center tutor, and teaching assistant. My schedule required me to plan my days carefully and prioritize my work, and my campus jobs all required strong listening and problem-solving skills.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in publishing?
Try to find a publishing house or workplace whose values align with your own. Internships are great trial opportunities to get a sense of a company’s culture and organization, and it’s worth taking time to find a place that supports your interests and growth.
How did you end up at Norton, or what enticed you to apply?
My college English Critical Methods course used the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, and that book became my favorite college text for many reasons. The content gave me new tools for literary criticism and helped expand my way of thinking about everything I read. My copy, which sits on my bookshelf, was gifted to me by the course professor, and it serves as a physical reminder of the intellectual and personal growth she inspired in me. I wanted to be part of a publishing house that could help shape students’ learning experiences and ground them in a course that could end up changing their lives.
What have been some of your favorite projects? Are there any projects or initiatives you introduced to your department or Norton?
I’ve really enjoyed learning about and working with various forms of accessibility in my time at Norton. As a media assistant, I worked with the Accessibility team to ensure the Composition ebooks and ancillaries met Norton and national standards of accessibility for students with varying levels of ability, such as low vision. As an Institutional Sales intern and in my current role, I’ve thought a lot more about financial accessibility of our course materials, specifically by working with schools’ Inclusive Access programs. I love introducing the program to instructors and working with my Ed Tech Specialist and Customer Success Manager to implement it.
What has kept you at Norton? What excites you about the future?
I’ve stayed at Norton because I’ve been given opportunities to grow, learn, change, and succeed here. The managers I’ve worked with have supported my interests and needs in my career and beyond, and I feel like I can express myself and be heard across various departments. I’m excited to be part of Norton as we continue hearing from professors and students about their changing needs and as we work to address those needs in our content and ancillaries.
What does Norton being independent and employee-owned mean to you and your work?
Norton’s status as an independent and employee-owned publishing house struck me as unique when I was initially applying to publishing jobs, and seeing how that identity impacts our work has kept me here. As a company, we have the power to put our time and resources into projects and initiatives that we find meaningful, and various departments and levels of Nortonians get to weigh in on those projects and initiatives. We celebrate together and stand together against obstacles big and small.
Lastly, what do you like to do outside of work? Any fun hobbies or recent reads you would recommend?
As much as I love my job, my favorite time of day is going for a run after work. Having time alone to decompress and get away from screens is really important to me. My running and work often inform each other; they both require patience, resilience, strategy, and flexibility.