Intern Life: Working for a Publishing Company as a College Student

By: Grace Hudgins

So you probably read my headline and immediately thought of phone calls and coffee. The two things college students master in — making coffee and answering phones.

BUT, as an intern for a nonfiction book company, I actually do a lot more than pick up the phone and go on caffeine runs. In fact, I don’t do either. (OK, I answer phones sometimes, but only if my boss is totally swamped.)

I actually have legitimate responsibilities here.

So, if you’re interested in publishing, editing, and writing as a career, then I’ll tell you all about what I do, how often I do it, and what I’ve learned so far.

Editing

Reading is a big part of my job — obviously. But I don’t just read the books for fun; I edit them for grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and, sometimes, the entire tone of the book depending on whom the target audience is.

The process is simple, but lengthy. I start by getting a draft of the book, reading through it, and making notes on my laptop of what needs to be changed. After that, I go in and make those corrections. While I’m editing for content, I’m also fact checking. We don’t just make words flow and craft up stronger sentences — we also fact check. If we publish false information, we can get into serious legal trouble.

It depends on how many chapters I’m editing to say how long it takes me to finish. I’ve edited from one chapter to an entire book before, but what I’ve learned is to be patient. Taking breaks frequently helps so I don’t get lazy and overlook something.

editingWhen I’m finished, I send it back to my editor, and she tightens the copy. She also sends back my version with her corrections so I know what to look for next time, which I find super helpful.

It sounds simple, but editing is a lengthy process. It’s the most important part of publishing, so it’s really important to know and understand grammar, punctuation, and spelling (among other things) so the editors don’t have to fix absolutely everything.

Social Media

Social media is a big part of my weekly responsibilities. At Atlantic Publishing, we’re on a variety of social media platforms — Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and WordPress to be exact — and some of the interns are in charge of a few of our sites. All of us write weekly for our blog. We have a range of topics we write about from reading and writing tips to back posture — you should check us out! * cough cough *

I’m responsible for our Instagram account. We just created it a few weeks ago, so we don’t have a lot of content yet. But we want to put our books out there, so a lot of our pictures will be of the books we have in stock, upcoming book covers, and sometimes employees (you can follow us at @atlanticteen, by the way).

Social media is important to for us so we can keep our readers in the loop about our books. It’s also a handy little communication tool. We connect with people all over for marketing, writing, and sharing purposes.

Digital Media

A fellow intern and I are currently working on a video project to spread our brand and books even more. We figured it’s a more interactive way to get in touch with our audience.

We’re experimenting more and more with video and digital media, because it goes hand-in-hand with social media. Those kinds of platforms are where our videos will be posted. So, we decided to get a little more creative with our marketing techniques.

CommunicationBooks on table

Another part of what I do is reach out to a number of different people, companies, and associations. I write emails requesting forewords — an introduction to a book written by an expert or professional — and for research purposes about where we can sell our books.

No matter what job you have, communication is an important skill to have. Professionals will not want to work wit you if you send an email ful uv Spilling mistakkes and inaccurate information. In this industry, it’s just as important as editing.

Rewriting Books

Yes, you read that right. We get to rewrite past published books for new audiences frequently — interns, too. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to exercise our creative writing skills. But we’re a nonfiction publishing company, so our stories have to be backed with legitimate facts and research.

This task goes hand-in-hand with editing. I still edit for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and all that good stuff, but I get the chance to write the book myself. Most internships don’t even allow college students to get near the fun stuff, but in publishing, it’s a different world.

I’ve learned a lot about the industry for the amount of time I’ve been here. As an intern, we also communicate with authors from time-to-time and upload book information into databases so wholesalers can sell our books through their market. It’s not all just reading and writing; there is a whole other side to publishing that has to deal with marketing, advertising, and sales.words

If you are considering publishing as a potential career, I’d highly suggest interning first, because every one is a little different. But you’ll learn anywhere that there are a thousand and one steps to do to get just one book published, and that the job is more than editing, authors, and colorful book covers.

Start off somewhere small, because they eventually lead to other big opportunities, and do your research. If you’re looking for books, make sure you’re applying to a book publisher and not a magazine or newspaper, because I assure you, it’s more than just phone calls and coffee.

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