I am an indecisive person. I tried almost every sport, dance, and hobby as a child. I inevitably quit all of them—except for one. Books. I love reading, and I love writing. For a good part of my life, I knew I wanted to work in the publishing industry, specifically publicity and marketing. Promoting authors while working on my own novels on the side seemed like a no-brainer.
Then you-know-who became the president.
If felt like the world was falling apart. It still does. I realized that I could no longer remain complacent in a society where so many are suffering—and suddenly, I became indecisive again. Do I work in publishing, or nonprofits and advocacy?
My summer publicity internship with Island Press taught me that I could do both.
I learned how important books regarding certain critical issues, like the environment, are to the current dialogue in today’s media. Through a carefully crafted pitch and more than a few emails from interns like me, reporters and book reviewers become aware of and can potentially share with the world topics or views that otherwise may not have been discussed. While also, of course, the publisher can sell more books.
The internship was also a great experience as an author. I knew publicity is the most important part of a book’s success, but I didn’t exactly know what that process involved. Now I do. I learned how to create a pitch letter, press release, the difference between the two, and how to craft it differently depending on the audience. I also learned necessary software like Cision, Meltwater (not mailwater, even though the part I used had to do with finding and emailing contacts, and that’s what I accidentally kept calling it), and the Pitney Bowes mailing system. Yes, I had to mail out books, and turns out, that’s a key part of the publicity process.
This internship gave me the opportunity to further understand the publishing process. I knew how it functioned from classes and Google searches, but I didn’t know the specific details or what it looked like in person. For instance, I had no idea, as an author, that there is a whole meeting dedicated to whether or not they publish your work. I always assumed just one editor made that decision. Or that books always have to be printed with even numbers, and just one extra word added after the start of production could potentially delay the whole process.
Not only have I learned a lot, but I feel like I made a difference. Two days ago I helped book a radio interview about one of our books, specifically Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change by Mary Beth Pfeiffer. That’s a whole audience of people who will now better understand the dangers of Lyme disease, and I was able to help make that happen.
This summer was one of the best learning experiences I ever had. I’m still not sure where my professional life will take me, but this internship has given me incredible skills and insight that I will take with me wherever I go.