On Interning at Island Press

On Interning at Island Press: Spring with the Editors

It’s a pull door on the way in and a push door on the way out. Now that the most important part is out of the way, I can elaborate about my wonderful experience as the spring 2019 editorial intern.

I had a certain trepidation I would become my English professor parents if I didn’t move out of Kentucky. That’s often the first thought of recent English degree recipients. Reliable and worthwhile profession, of course, but I wanted to explore what else is out there. Plus, I couldn’t take any more losing Scrabble games to my folks. I hustled into D.C. and successfully interviewed for the editorial internship at Island Press, where I enjoyed every day of my springtime work.

My internship was a genuine peek into the meticulous field of publishing. Under the tutelage of Elizabeth Farry, I learned about my responsibilities: reviewing author proposals, attending decision-to-publish meetings, sending books to back-cover blurbers, and so much more. I always had proper guidance and was never afraid to ask questions, which makes the office such a great place for learning.

Wednesday afternoons are reserved for the roundtable meetings, my favorite part of the week at Island Press. Editors bring in proposed book ideas from authors, and discussion ensues. Each department is able to offer their unique perspective on the subject, ranging from concept discrepancies to marketability benefits. The editor then relays that back to the author and the proposed book may make it to a decision-to-publish meeting. Real-world numbers get examined, a possible timetable is scrutinized, and the book really takes its metaphorical shape. Later on, the book’s physical shape gets established by the all-star production team.

The editorial internship at Island Press reaffirmed my enchantment with the field of publishing. Naturally, there were a few times that reminded me of the patience you need to work in this profession: a pas-de-deux gone wrong with the copier or desperately trying to find a correct citation, but all teaching or growing moments that I’m thankful for. Besides, there’s a sheet of local happy hours nestled between books on the desk mantle that previous interns have built on the last few years.

I was able to watch and help as several books went from proposal to publication. Being a part of this process adds another dimension to any other book or novel I pick up. I urge anyone remotely interested in books and publishing to apply for an internship at Island Press. The books Island Press publishes genuinely help change the world for the better, and to be a part of that is something special. A big thanks to the editorial team and everyone at Island Press for making my spring so impactful.