Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

Chatting with Karen Snyder Duke, REDBOOK

The Health Editor talks about finding that burning in your gut (trust us, it’s a good thing.)

What is a typical day like for you? Sometimes being an editor is like being an air traffic controller—it’s a lot of pointing people in the right direction. There’s really no “typical” day, but overall I am emailing and calling writers, coordinating with sources and publicists, and meeting with the art department. Somewhere in between all of that I have to read copy and write the smaller pages throughout my section. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

What attracted you to covering health after being at Parents and American Baby? I think health found me. The very first edit test I did was for an editorial assistant position that focused largely on health. I didn’t get the job, but I enjoyed the test so much that I later jumped at the chance to edit the women’s health news page at Parents. My promotion to associate editor at American Baby brought even more health, plus the experience of assigning to freelancers. The role at REDBOOK felt like the natural next step.

Your first issue at REDBOOK featured Michelle Obama on the cover; what sort of feelings did you experience when it hit newsstands? The same feelings I experience every time I see my name on a masthead for the first time. (Does that ever go away? Someone please let me know.) But that was also a special issue for REDBOOK: It was the launch of our #HireWomenVets campaign, which culminated in a career-readiness event in D.C. last November. I couldn’t have been prouder to join the REDBOOK ranks.

What is your favorite published piece you’ve contributed to? (Provide a link if you can.) When I was at American Baby, I worked on a piece on postpartum anxiety, which is just as common as postpartum depression but not often discussed. I made my first television appearance (on CBS News) tied to the story, and shortly after, we started receiving emails and Facebook messages from women thanking us for finally putting a name to what they had experienced. On our best days, editors get to do that.

When I moved to REDBOOK six months ago, I made it my goal to pitch health stories that were fresh, approachable, and fun to read. And I think we’re delivering on that: In March, we ran a custom flat-belly plan that’s unlike anything I’ve seen in other magazines; in April, we had “10 Signs You Should Dump Your M.D.,” written as though you’re in an actual relationship with this person. So stay tuned—we’re just getting started!

Complete this analogy: Fashion is to closet as health is to ____________. Tough one! It’s a toss up between writers and sources. There’s nothing I love more than matching the perfect writer to a piece, or having a nutritionist who’s willing to let me email her about anything, anytime.

What do you do more of: eating right or exercising? Eating right, for sure. (I have to eat, no matter how busy I am!) But full disclosure: I’m munching on Thin Mints as I write this. It’s for the children!

What can you not work/live/workout without? My coworkers. I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible people over the course of my career. But I dare you to find a smarter, funnier team than the one at REDBOOK. And it shows in our pages.

Twitter or Instagram? Twitter. It’s my fastest, easiest, most entertaining source for news.

Do you have any advice for people trying to break into publishing? Be fearless. Sometimes I think back on the things I did at 22—driving six hours from West Virginia for interviews, sleeping on a friend’s couch in New Jersey, using their address so editors would think I already lived here—and I have no idea what I was thinking. But that’s just it: I wasn’t thinking. (Now it’s all I do!) There will never be a better time to leap, so just do it.

What word/phrase/motto do you live by? Do what you love. If you’re going to eat healthy, do it with foods you adore. If you’re going to get fit, choose exercise that feels like an escape, not a punishment. And if you’re going to work, find a job that burns in your gut the way this one does in mine.

Amanda Jean Black is a guest blogger at Ed2010, sharing stories from her site onthemasthead.com. When not hunting down publishing’s elite for an interview, you can find the native New Yorker obsessing about style and culture, shopping for designer streetwear, and jamming out to 90′s alt rock.

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