The Publishing Certificate Program at CCNY was established in 1998 on the initiative of best-selling author and CCNY graduate Walter Mosley. The program offers a variety of courses and seminars to undergraduates and non-matriculating students which will provide them with the knowledge, professional skills and contacts necessary to enter the publishing industry. The core curriculum is taught by book professionals who are leaders in their fields.
A special concern of the Program is the issue of diversity in the book publishing industry and its impact on cultural production and our national and global markets. Drawing on CCNY’s racial, ethnic and class diversity, and its proximity to the national center of the book industry, the PCP is uniquely situated to address this industry-wide concern. Professional training, meaningful employment and job retention are of key interest to the program faculty and administration.
In 1998, writer and City College alumnus Walter Mosley, like Saint Paul, was struck by a proverbial bolt of lightning: he realized that if more people of color worked in publishing, diversity among published writers would increase.
And that’s the beginning of the Publishing Certificate Program (PCP) at CCNY. Mosley contacted then CCNY President Yolanda Moses, who was co-member with him on the Board of the National Book Foundation. They met with publishers on the NBF board and encouraged them to support the creation of a publishing program at City College. Major companies — John Wiley & Sons, Harcourt, Little Brown, Bantam Doubleday Dell, and Scholastic — responded to the call with multi-year grants to CCNY.
The PCP offers a comprehensive publishing program with professional training to CCNY students, especially those from underrepresented groups, so that they can enter the publishing world as successfully as their counterparts from more elite colleges. We did not duplicate the then existing Radcliffe (now Columbia) Summer Institute or the NYU, Stanford, or Denver programs. We seek students from all backgrounds who love books and reading, and have never considered publishing as a career option. When they graduate with a PCP certificate, they are ready to go!
In the 25 years of the PCP’s existence, more than 350 students have earned the certificate by taking a minimum of four publishing courses such as E-Book Publishing, Legal Issues, and Books for Young Readers. They also complete internships in publishing houses or literary agencies. In addition to their coursework, this robust internship program gives our students the hands-on experience or apprenticeship necessary to succeed.
Along the way, we have partnered with the Association of American Literary Agents, Viking Penguin, Edelweiss by Above the Treeline and the Women’s Media Group to give our students additional support and mentoring. We are proud to say that approximately 50% of our graduates have worked in publishing for at least one year and that today at least 30% of our graduates are employed editors, designers, and publicists in publishing—some with over 20 years of publishing experience.
We have a talented and committed faculty comprised of Yona Deshommes (Riverchild Media LLC), Rebecca Maines (Maison Vert), Nick Thomas (Levine Querido), Daniel Vazquez (formerly of Astra House), Cherise Fisher (Wendy Sherman Associates), Jennifer Buño (formerly of Scholastic, Inc.), Steven Weissman (Fortune, Inc.) and Philip Rappaport (formerly of Open Road Media). Past instructors include Retha Powers (former PCP Assistant Director and now VP at Holt, Inc.), Carol Taylor (McKinnon Literary Agency), Tanya McKinnon (McKinnon Literary Agency) and Rakia Clark (Harper Collins, Inc) all of whom continue to mentor our students.
PCP has been a great success story, and we look forward to expanding the program over the next few years.
— David Unger, Director
The following courses constitute a core curriculum for students interested in a career in book publishing in editorial, sales, publicity or marketing, book composition and design. Courses are grouped by professional area; students are encouraged to develop a track of studies that will provide specialized knowledge and allow them to respond to the dynamic and constantly evolving interaction of publishing departments.
ENGL 33800 – Digital and E-Book Publishing
This course delves into the transformative impact of the digital revolution on the publishing industry and reader behaviors over the past 30 years. Engage with industry experts through in-person talks, readings, videos, and podcasts. Topics include eBook production and design, SEO and metadata, audiobooks, digital marketing, social media strategies, and generative AI like ChatGPT. Coursework involves online discussions, written assignments exploring virtual and indie bookselling, backlist publishing, cover design, and a final group project to edit, design, and market an original eBook.
ENGL 32501 – Introduction to Publishing
Introduction to Publishing introduces students to trade books (books for the general consumer) and their publishers. The course is designed to give an overview of the book business–from how manuscripts are made (role of the author, agent and acquiring editor); to how books are made (design, production and distribution of the finished book); to how books are sold (publicity and marketing).
An important aspect of the course is helping students find their potential niche in the publishing business, should they continue on for the Publishing Certificate. The course concludes with how to get a job, stressing resume preparation, writing query letters to publishers, and preparing for interviews. The course aims at inculcating professionalism in students as it prepares them for satisfying careers in book publishing.
ENGL 32502 – Publishing Practicum
Students simulate the complete book-publishing process from contract negotiations to bound book. Each student will “publish” a book — from acquisition to distribution — during the course of the semester. Topics will include the state of book publishing today; evaluating book proposals and manuscripts; acquisitions and agents; different kinds of editing; the author-editor relationship; elements of an editorial letter; interior and cover design; publishing planning; marketing and publicity campaigns; sales; audio books; bookselling and author events; and other aspects of the book publishing process.
ENGL 32600 – Books for Young Readers
A look at the world of publishing for children and young adults! Will include substantial reading and discussion of picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, nonfiction, etc. Will cover all aspects of a publishing house and the business including editorial, marketing & publicity, sales, book finance, printing and production, contracts and negotiation, subsidiary rights, agents, international publishing and translation, etc. Strong focus will be given to helping students prepare for a career in publishing.
ENGL 32700 – The Editorial Process
An in-depth look at the editorial process from a corporate and employment-seeking perspective. The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the various tasks for which editorial departments are responsible. Students will practice the management and administration of editorial labor in contemporary American book publishing with a focus on the different qualifications and expectations of each of the following roles: Editorial Assistant, Assistant Editor, Associate Editor, Editor, Senior Editor, Executive Editor, Editor-at-Large, and Publisher. Students will also perform various tasks associated with each role, including: compiling comp title lists; writing reader reports, editorial letters, marketing copy, and sales pitches; preparing jacket memos; and brainstorming lists of potential interlocutors for book tours. Includes visits from authors and other industry professionals.
ENGL 32800 – Fundamentals of Copyediting and Proofreading
An intensive course focusing on a variety of texts including fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks and references. Students will employ universal copyediting/proofreading symbols in type-marking manuscripts and learn design coding; drafting of style sheets; querying; and preparing a manuscript for author review, etc.
ENGL 32801 – Legal Issues in Publishing and the Arts
A course covering the crucial clauses in an author-publisher contract; intellectual property issues; the First Amendment; general copyright matters; defamation; invasion of privacy; obscenity; and internet copyright issues.
MARKETING AND ADVERTISING COURSES
MCA 20900 – Introduction to Public Relations
An introductory course on the practice, concepts and theories of public relations. Students learn the fundamentals of persuasive communications, public opinion, market research, writing for the media end effective media relations.
MCA 21000 – Introduction to Advertising
A course introducing students to the advertising industry. Students analyze, evaluate and simulate advertising campaigns from a marketing perspective.
MCA 36200 – Public Relations Writing
Students examine message dissemination and how to write public relations plans and corporate directed communications. Projects include press releases, media alerts, pitch letters, tip sheets, PSA’s, media kits and web PR.
MCA 36300 – Advertising Copywriting
A course focusing on solving marketing problems through copywriting. Students write, edit and evaluate copy including print, radio, TV, mail and promotional materials individually and in teams.
MCA 37500 – Advertising Management
An introduction to basic management in advertising. The course focuses on the economic, social and legal aspects of the industry with an emphasis on advertising’s role in marketing and consumer behavior.
MCA 37600 – Advertising Planning
Students apply principles of advertising management to specific problems and case studies. Focus is on developing advertising strategies, budgets and media plans in domestic and international environments.
ECON 21250 – Principles of Marketing
Students examine the distribution and sale of goods and services from production to consumption. The course focuses on affecting consumer behavior, merchandise economics and product theory.
DESIGN COURSES AND INTERNSHIP
ART 29500 – Typography
An introduction to typography as form and its relation to graphic communication. Application of typographic design to brochures, magazines, packaging, and advertising.
ART 29510 – Graphic Design Concepts
A course exploring the relationship of type and image in graphic design and strengthening conceptual and visual skills. Students use traditional and computer technology.
ART 29520 – Illustration
A course on aspects of contemporary illustration in various media such as books, magazines, advertisements and posters.
ART 39510 – Electronic Design I
An overview of design for print media, including page layout, integration of text and image, and the use of vector and raster-based software for design.
ART 39512 – Production
Production for digital media distribution channels: print, web, ebook, apps, film/video. Development of projects from ideation, sketches, file setups, editing/revisions, final preparation and delivery.
ART 39540 – Design: World Wide Web
Development of HTML documents and images, design and prototype testing of a logical hierarchical information structure. Students will develop an actual site.
ART 49510 – Electronic Design II
A continuation of ART 39510, covering contemporary design styles and issues in information design. Individually scheduled lab time.
ENGL 31003 – Independent Study: Publishing Internship
Mandatory internship for students who have completed four publishing courses with at least a 3.0 average. Students are recruited for internships with major and independent book publishers including Penguin Random House, Inc., Hachette Book Group USA, W. W. Norton, Inc., HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Inc., Sourcebooks, and Scholastic, Inc. An eight-page seminar paper reviewing and analyzing the relationship between academic preparation and work experience is required.
Director, Publishing Certificate Program
Location: NA 6/323
Assistant Director, Publishing Certificate Program
Location: NA 6/323