Katy Spining: Growing a Career Through Purposeful Print & Processes
March 25, 2022
For over 40 years, Madden has served as a harbinger of creative storytelling. Our award-winning visitors guides have showcased over 200 destinations throughout the United States, contributing to the publication of thousands of previously untold stories. Dozens, if not hundreds, of people have contributed to the growth and success of these publications. However, for the past 22 years, there has been one constant: Katy Spining.
Ask anyone at Madden what Katy does, and they’ll unanimously tell you she’s the queen of publications. That grand nickname is well deserved, as she reigns supreme over the processes required to deliver exceptional guides. With years of diverse work experience and training, Katy wears many crowns.
Where it all Began
Receiving her degree in Photojournalism from Northern Arizona University, Katy’s transition into Madden’s world of visitors guides wasn’t a straight shot — instead, her education was the catalyst that set her on the path toward publishing.
“Coming out of journalism training, I thought maybe I would work in newspapers,” Katy said. “But I found working on books and magazines to be much more interesting. Sure, I can write. But I learned I enjoy the project management side of things more.”
Starting her career path in public relations, Katy would later transition into the world of editing and editorial project management for textbook and trade book publishing — a transition (she would tell you) was a better fit. With experience overseeing the publication of cookbooks, children’s books, and textbooks on everything from astronomy and chemistry to art history, Katy relished the opportunity to grow in her role as both a project manager and an editor.
“It was really good training for where I eventually ended up with Madden,” Katy said. “It helped me bridge the gap between editing, content, and publication. I communicate with the client. I work with freelancers. I hire proofers. I build schedules. I make sure everything stays on track. My early work experience is really what set me up for where I’m at now.”
At present, Katy singlehandedly curates, organizes, and manages the publication of seven active guides and consults on an additional six. And while she attributes her ability to manage so many projects simultaneously to her past work experiences, Katy also attributes her aptitude for publications to a history of solid role models.
“I’ve always had strong female role models,” Katy said. “Whether they were my bosses or my boss’s bosses, there are lots of high-level female editors in this field. When I started, I had a great mentor. I learned a lot from her. And ever since, it’s been one after another of strong female role models.”
In an industry comprised of 54% female employees, Katy is grateful for her peers and mentors that have helped lead her to the role she fills today.
“I think we’re kind of lucky in that sense that in this industry, especially on the editing side of things, it tends to be a female-heavy…or at the very least female equal,” Katy said.
Katy has also been one of those female mentors herself, having overseen teams of editors throughout her career with Madden. She estimates that she has trained close to 20 content team members during her career at Madden.
The Future of Pubs
With decades of experience as an editor and project manager for more than 25 of Madden’s visitor guides, Katy is a legend when it comes to destination marketing. Among the many roles she fills, storytelling savant is chief among them.
“Coming up with a pitch or story idea is one of my favorite things about the job,” Katy said. “Showcasing a destination and showing what’s unique or special about that place is one of my favorite things. After 22 plus years in the industry, you’d think I’d be out of ideas, but there’s always something new or special to say about a place.”
Not unlike her own story, the stories Katy shares paint a colorful picture of both past and present. Through the seamless marriage of practical and creative, she is able to celebrate and spread the stories of destinations far and wide. And as the industry increasingly shifts toward virtual media, Katy believes that print media is here to stay.
“People have told me print is dying for over 15 years,” Katy said. “But publications have kept me busy, really busy, for a long, long time. And following COVID, as things have started to recover, I’ve never had so many publications on my plate at one time. People are hungry for publications that tell thoughtful and inspiring stories, and I’m glad to tell them.”