GW English Alums on the Move: Sarah Perillo Writes about Her Publishing Job

On the heels of Graduation 2013, we continue our new series “GW English Alums on the Move.”  We want to hear about your accomplishments and adventures!  Professor Margaret Soltan is the new Alumni Relations Coordinator for this blog; if you’re a GW English Alum, please don’t hesitate to send Professor Soltan your news at

An added bonus of letting others know about what you’re up to when you leave GW: you help us reinforce the message that there are many different things that you can do with an English major.  We’re very proud of the many different paths our majors have taken.

When you send in your stories, don’t forget to include pictures!

GW English Alum Sarah Perillo
Class of 2013

On her way to New York City, Sarah Perillo, who just graduated as an English major, describes her new job:

Starting on May 29, I will be working as the “Foreign Rights Assistant” at Curtis Brown, Ltd., a literary agency in Manhattan. Basically this means I’ll be assisting the director of the translation rights department. My responsibilities will include some mundane things like tracking royalty payments and helping authors fill out their tax forms, but I’ll also learn how to negotiate contracts with foreign publishers. Eventually I’ll be attending the international book fairs in Frankfurt and Bologna. At the same time, I’ll probably be assisting other agents by going through their queries, writing reader’s reports, and providing general editorial feedback.

I got the job through the translation rights director at CB, for whom I interned last summer when he was an agent at Folio Literary Management, also in New York. His assistant is leaving to become a literary agent herself, so he contacted me and asked if I was interested in the job (I was, of course). The job seems to have a lot of growth potential. Curtis Brown is a reputable company, and the skills I’ll gain from working in foreign rights will allow me to pursue future jobs in almost any other area of the publishing industry. I could become an agent, or an editor, or I could continue to work in foreign.

I would recommend that anyone interested in book publishing learn how to read a publishing contract and branch out from doing just editorial work. Editorial jobs are much more competitive, and applicants with experience in marketing, digital publishing, or foreign rights in addition to editing usually have better luck finding a job. Unfortunately, it’s also still very much an apprenticeship industry, and people with connections are much more likely to be employed. I can’t overstate the importance of internships. Most of them are in New York, but there are also many opportunities here in the Washington area. 

Excellent advice, Sarah.  All the best in your new venture!

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