Former magazine editor sheds light on the industry
Author Lindsey Palmer is well aware that by writing a novel about the magazine industry, she’s going to get her fair share of criticism. But let’s get something out of the way right now: “Pretty in Ink” isn’t “The Devil Wears Prada,” nor is it trying to be. “‘The Devil Wears Prada’ came out in 2003 at the height of magazines,” she tells us. “Everything was luxury. Anything post-2008 is a totally different world.”
What makes Palmer’s book a vastly different read is that it’s set in a post-recession world, something readers can relate to no matter what their jobs are. “Everyone’s had that fear of losing their job,” Palmer says.
At the beginning of the book, the editor-in-chief of the fictional women’s magazine Hers gets the axe, and a new editor is brought in with the hopes of revitalizing the magazine and reversing slumping newsstand sales. The book is written from the perspective of different people on the Hers staff: the new top editor, the lowly intern, the taken-for-granted recipe editor who has been there for 25 years and others. Each has a very different perspective on the management shake-up, and the result is a 360-degree view of what it’s really like to work at a glossy.
And Palmer would know — she’s worked at Self, Glamour and Redbook. “I’ve always had mixed feelings about working in the magazine industry,” she says. “Some days I would come home and think, ‘I love what I do.’ Other days I’d think, ‘Why am I writing about date night for the 15th time?’”
Palmer wrote “Pretty in Ink” while she was still working as a magazine editor, at night and on the weekends. “No one in the book is based off of a real person. It’s more of a mosaic of my own experience,” she says. “I will say that I did experience, at one point, this kind of changing of the guard where an editor was let go and a new one was brought in, like what happens in the book.”
Now, Palmer has left the world of magazines behind and has started a new career as a teacher. “It’s funny, I started teaching this year and it’s so much work! I assign a five-page paper to 150 students and then I have 750 pages to grade. Sometimes I think, when did I write? Oh, I know: the time that I’m grading now.” Sounds like it’s a different devil all together.
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