Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Intern Adventures: Testing the Editorial Waters

Have you been craving more updates about the glamorous life of a publishing intern? Fear not--our wonderful publicity-and-sometimes-editorial Intern Michael is here to update you on his exciting 10-to-5 and take any questions you may have in the comments! Happy reading!


Since I started working at Overlook earlier this summer, many people have asked me the obvious question: “What exactly does an intern at a book publisher do?” To many an asker’s disappointment, the innocent query can result in a somewhat boring discussion unless a conversant is duly prepared for a detailed rundown on the inner-functions of the website CisionPoint. The temptation to glamorize my position here can be a bit overwhelming and at times I’m tempted to exaggerate the truth about the less exciting duties of a publicity intern.

Intern Michael hard at work in the Overlook offices Tuesday.
No, we're not making him read ALL of those books. (Just most of them.)
Thanks, Michael!

In a post last month I detailed some of those responsibilities, including the fulfillment of media requests and the collection of names and email addresses for contact lists. While I recognize and appreciate the necessity and value of tasks like these for any business to function, they never quite qualify as the most compelling explanation of the job I chose to undertake this summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love working in publicity. One thing I’ve discovered while working here is that there is a huge amount of fulfillment to be found in the marketing and promotion of meaningful literary works in an industry that is as competitive as books.

That said, there is still an incredible amount of work that needs to be done in order to bring those books to market, not all of which makes for the most thrilling of conversations.
Since starting here two months ago I’ve had the good luck to receive some jobs outside of the publicity department. While these odd assignments provide me with better fodder for making my job sound more important than it is, they also give me more insight and a better understanding of the way that Overlook functions overall as a publishing house.

At least once a week I try to sit down for a few hours and read submissions that we receive from literary agents and agencies. These submissions range from completed and bound books that have been published in foreign countries and are seeking North American distribution to incomplete manuscripts and proposals that desperately want a publisher’s interest and approval. I try to give them all as much time and attention as possible as I write reports which are then delivered to our editors for their input and opinions.

On several occasions I’ve had the opportunity to work with our sales team in the research and development of sell sheets, promotional tools which our staff uses to assist in the sale of our current or upcoming titles. Last week I created a sheet for the paperback edition of Return to the Little Kingdom: How Apple & Steve Jobs Changed the World. In spite of some recent bad press on the iPhone 4, it wasn’t difficult to find an overwhelming amount of positive statistics and headlines about Apple, information which can then be used to drum up interest in this book about Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The more time I spend at Overlook, the more I realize that while some of the more monotonous tasks that are required of an intern are indeed dull, they do represent an essential aspect of the overall mission of the business: the publication of distinguished books of outstanding quality that would otherwise remain “overlooked” by other houses. While my internship here might not include the same perks and excitement that belong to our head publisher Peter Mayer , I do feel like I get enough exhilaration at work by formatting and printing the Publisher’s Weekly morning report he reads every day.


Evil AnimalS said...

Michael, this is awesome! No one let me blog when I was an intern! I will definitely refer anyone who's considering publishing here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update, Intern Michael -- and can we coin that look "overlooked stubble" ?