Shout out to Izzi @ Ravenclaw Book Club for suggesting this post idea to me. Because I have a lot to say about my job as an intern, I’ve decided this will be a 3-part series of posts. The first part will be a combo of advice and storytelling of how and where I managed to snag an internship in publishing. The second will be a post about my duties as a publishing intern, and the third will be a post about possible resources and tools you can use to find an internship!
Disclaimer: I do not claim to know the ins and outs of the publishing industry and so all the advice I give is based on my own personal experience. I do not assume to be a specialist so please take my advice if you feel that it will really work for you!
Aspiring Editors, Sound Off!
I know that there are many readers and lovers of literature that have dreams of working in the publishing industry, myself included. After snagging an internship at a publishing press, I thought it might be nice to share a bit of insight into a small category of the behemoth that is publishing.
For those of us who have done our research and have already experienced various forms of rejection and difficulty along the path to an editing position, it’s no secret that publishing is a hard industry to get into. There are many of us who would one day like to become editors and chief editors of the Big Five publishing companies, an indie press, a video game development company, a newspaper, a blog, and so on and so forth. The reality I’ve discovered is that before we can obtain that coveted position, we must first gain experience and establish a network of potential colleagues and acquaintances.
What Do You Need?
I’ve discovered that many editing positions require at least 1-2 years of experience, and that’s mostly for assistant editor positions. Many editor or chief editor positions require a minimum of 3-5 years experience in copyediting, proofreading, and most importantly, managing or supervising. Many, but not all.
Even so, the bottom line is that in order to get started in publishing, you must have some form of experience in the department that you are hoping to apply to one day. And the best way to go about gaining this experience is through internships.
Now, I won’t lie to you and say this is easy. Because it’s not. Internships are almost as hard to get as a job. Editing is a highly sought after profession, and so, the competition is surprisingly great.
Also, a good number of editing internships are unpaid. Meaning, it’s up to you to decide whether experience is more important than financial stability or if an unpaid opportunity is even doable in your particular circumstance or lifestyle.
There are many ways you can go about discovering an internship. I’ll go over some of these in the third part of this series. All you need to know right now is that the best way to find an internship is to go directly to the company’s website that you are interested in working for and seeing if they have any internships available. There is nothing better than going straight to the source. However, this means you must first do your research and determine which companies are of higher interest to you and which ones cater to your personal preferences, your availability, your location and reachability, and so many other considerable factors.
Snagging My Internship at Red Hen Press
About a month ago I began working as an intern at Red Hen Press, a literary press based in Pasadena, California that publishes literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. It’s one of the few notable presses in Los Angeles (and on the west coast in general). Despite my advice above, I actually found their internship on a general job site, Indeed.com. I had never heard of Red Hen Press until the moment I ran across the editorial position, and that’s okay. After visiting their site, learning more about their company, finding all the information about all the internships provided, sprucing up my résumé and cover letter, and sending it all in with the hopes of being chosen as an editorial candidate, I was contacted by the head of marketing.
She asked me to complete a copyediting test.
Don’t panic. This is pretty standard for many editing positions at publishing presses, so prepare yourself! Brush up on your grammar and punctuation before applying to any editing position, just in case.
I struggled with my test in that I didn’t want to make too many corrections. As a copyeditor, it’s more important to honor the integrity of a text than to completely revamp it to fit your own style and preference. Fix the punctuation when needed, fact check names, dates, and places, and make sure words are spelled correctly. Usually, these are the things to focus on as a copyeditor and proofreader. For now, it is not your job to fix the structure of a text unless asked of you by the editor or another supervisor.
After I sent in my edited test, I was asked for an interview. During the meeting, they told me the editorial position was very popular among applicants and that my skills were best suited to the marketing department instead, which I agreed with. If they thought that best, and were offering me a job, who was I to argue? But then they also said my editing abilities were strong enough for me to work in editing. So now I have a joint internship in two departments: Marketing & Publicity and Editorial. Unexpected, but I could roll with it. So now…
Time to get to work.
If you have any questions about a publishing internship, please don’t hesitate to ask! I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have. My next post will go more into depth about the work that I do as an intern. Hopefully some of the responsibilities I outline will help some of y’all better understand the various facets of publishing, particularly within the literary press category.
Until next time! ❤