Grace Johnson: From the ‘Pulse’ to Publishing

The Pulse’s events-calendar manager, Grace Johnson, has always loved books and reading. She never understood why her high school friends didn’t enjoy English when it was her favorite class. She even thought she might like to teach it.

By the end of high school, however, she knew teaching wouldn’t be the right career choice for her, so at Appleton’s Lawrence University, she pursued an English major with minors in creative writing and history. A family friend suggested a career in the publishing field – an idea that she kept in her back pocket.

To gain job experience, and through encouragement from her mother, Johnson started a copy-editing internship with the Pulse in 2014, the summer before her junior year. She joined the staff full time in 2016.

Still, she never forgot about the possibility of publishing and decided this past winter that she was still interested. She applied to the Denver [Colorado] Publishing Institute in December, was accepted into the four-week program and is now participating in daily workshops and field trips with her cohort of 95 students. They range in age from their early 20s to their 50s because the program is designed both for students right out of college and for those who are pursuing a career change later in life.

Industry professionals from all over the country teach the course, so Johnson is looking forward to the potential networking opportunities. 

“I’m excited to learn from somebody who is actually doing this – to hear their opinion and their process,” Johnson said.

Like any university program, Johnson had lots of advance homework to prepare, which she completed during the Pulse’s busiest time of year. She’s also been involved with planning the Celebrate Water summit for the past two years and received her assignments on the first day of this summer’s summit.

To prepare for the course, Johnson was required to read six children’s books, two editing/style books, 450 pages from the Chicago Manual of Style and more; write a press release and a book review; and visit a large chain bookstore and an independent bookstore.

Discovering which of the many aspects involved in the publishing industry – from editing to book design – that she might like best will be the most interesting part of the course for Johnson.

“I think that’s why I’m doing the program,” she said. “Everyone comes in [to the program] thinking that what they want to do is edit, but a lot of them end up finding something else that they’re really good at or find really interesting. So I’m keeping an open mind.”

At the end of the program, the Pulse staff will be eager to have Johnson back on the team because of her many invaluable contributions – even if it isn’t for long.

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