On Interning For Island Press: The Publicity Perspective

Ever since I was little, reading has been the only hobby that’s stuck around. I tried soccer, art, piano, and even basketball, but ended up eventually quitting all of those. Books have been one of the only constants in my life, which is why I always thought I wanted to go into publishing. It’s hard enough to tell people you want to go into an industry that everybody seems to think is going to disappear, but actually entering the industry itself? That’s even harder.

Island Press seemed like a perfect place for me to start. Despite opposition from almost everybody, I was determined to live out my dream of not only having reading as a hobby, but also as a career. Island Press gave me a chance to get my foot in the door and gain experience in publishing by being a publicity intern. Even though it was not exactly what I thought I wanted to do, I was able to learn a lot about publishing and attend editorial meetings as well.

As a publicity intern, my job was to research media contacts, build relationships with contacts, draft press releases, update the media report, and work on a variety of projects for the publicity and marketing departments. I was also able to attend editorial meetings every week and see the decision-making process in action. I now believe that marketing and publicizing a book may be, arguably, the most important stage in a book’s life, especially for the environmental books that Island Press publishes. Island Press’ mission is on every press release they send out: to “stimulate, shape, and communicate the information that is essential for solving environmental problems” and “transform objective information into understanding and action.” It is essential that their books reach a wide audience so as to bring awareness to important issues and inspire change.

I was able to see firsthand how Island Press stands by their mission statement. A couple weeks into my internship, a few others in the marketing and social media departments and I delivered Island Press’ The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change to the freshman members of Congress. The enthusiasm from donators that made this project possible and the optimism that delivering these books to the offices of members of Congress directly would have an impact made carrying that heavy box all around Capitol Hill worth it.

That experience, as well as many others, was what made my internship at Island Press as a publicity intern fulfilling. I learned the insides and outs of the department and was also able to attend Island Press’ IP-101 meetings, where every department discusses their jobs and the entire life of a book from development to production and beyond.

Working with and being surrounded by books and people who love books made Island Press the perfect place for me to intern and gain experience in a field I didn’t start out knowing much about. Because of this internship, I am more certain about what I want to pursue in the future and more confident in my writing ability and communication skills.