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.
Mel Bautista joined W. W. Norton and publishing as a college sales intern in 2021. After graduating from college, she couldn’t help but return to Norton, first as a marketing assistant, and now as the marketing coordinator. Based in the New York office, Mel works on administrative and creative projects to support the marketing and sales teams.
What is your current role and what part do you play in the book publishing process?
In my current role as marketing coordinator, I work closely with the discipline marketing managers and help them with their various administrative tasks, such as setting up student and instructor workshops, monitoring budgets, updating college sales representatives about available sales tools, and scheduling meetings. I also help create social media copy and graphics, as well as design informative handouts that our sales reps use to provide information about books to instructors on campus. My role consists of a lot of monitoring and making sure materials are accessible to all teams.
What does an average day look like?
When it’s the fall or spring semester, I might start my day by setting up closed captioning for one of our instructor-facing workshops led by one of our fantastic marketing managers. I’ll also be sure to update the workshop landing page and advertise it on social media so people have the opportunity to register beforehand. After that, I’ll hop onto WordPress to design one of our Norton Learning Blog posts before sending it off to our speedy copyediting team. Then I’ll spend the afternoon taking notes at meetings where print and media editors discuss their plans for our upcoming editions of books. I love being a fly on the wall during these meetings! And, if we’re talking about a typical day in the summer, you can find me living on InDesign, where I create and edit handouts for our sales reps to pass on to instructors on campus.
What skills do you need to succeed in your job? Did any previous work or life experience help you in your role?
I’d say the most important skills needed to succeed in this role are organization, prioritization, adaptability, and communication. Because I work with multiple disciplines and marketing managers who are mostly remote, I’ve learned that it’s important to get to know each person’s communication style and approach my work with that knowledge in mind. There are a lot of tasks that belong to a larger workflow, so it is super important to be able to prioritize and understand the bigger picture. Because each season in academic publishing means different projects for us, I’ve learned how to adjust to change. My previous experience selling advertising at my university’s student-run publication gave me a base understanding of adaptability and communication, especially when there were last-minute changes to the publication schedule.
What has kept you at Norton? What excites you about the future?
Once my internship at Norton concluded, I continued to think about the experience throughout the rest of my college career. After coming back to Norton, I can say confidently that what keeps me here is not only the constant opportunity to learn something, but also the people. I always feel so supported by my managers and colleagues when I have new ideas and they always encourage me to give them a shot. I’m mostly excited to continue learning about marketing and finding new ways to contribute to our team and Norton’s mission!
What advice would you give someone just starting out in publishing?
Ask questions and talk to as many people as possible. Before getting into publishing, it always seemed so mysterious to me. How do departments work together? What is the difference between marketing and publicity? How long does the book publishing process take? It was only once I started asking publishing professionals for informational meetings and talking to my internship managers about their publishing journeys that I could envision more clearly what that journey could look like for me. Once you start that process, you’ll realize how willing most people in publishing are to give you insight about their role.
Have you participated in any extracurricular programs at Norton?
One of my favorite things about my job is that I work with great people. For that reason, I felt encouraged to join different programs that Norton has to offer in order to meet new people and try new things. As someone who is passionate about education, I decided to participate in Read Ahead, a mentoring program focused on reading that paired me with a 4th-grade student. I structure each lesson to ensure that my student is improving their reading comprehension and vocabulary skills, and it has been so rewarding to watch her improve each week. I also decided to join the mentorship program this year as a mentee. Being able to chat with my mentor about his role at the company and how it compares to mine, ways to advocate for myself in the workplace as a newer employee, and trends in publishing as a whole has been super informative and has allowed me to feel extremely supported. Lastly, I participated in this year’s bakeoff by baking a carrot cake and naming my entry “The Carrot Cake Also Rises.” While I was defeated by other VERY delicious entries, it was so much fun to bond with coworkers over hobbies that exist outside the workplace!
Lastly, what do you like to do outside of work? Any fun hobbies or recent reads you would recommend?
This may come as a shock, but I love to read. I am a member of two book clubs and I also run a “bookstagram” account. That has held me accountable in terms of how much and which genres I’m reading, and it is such a fun way to connect with other book lovers and be creative with the photos I take and graphics I make. My newest hobby is running! I have been working on increasing my distance lately and now I’m training to become a faster runner. Running has been teaching me patience and also requires a ton of dedication and persistence. I have never been an athletic person, so this has been a challenging and super rewarding journey!