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On Interning at Island Press: Wednesday Meetings

In this installment, Editorial Intern Alex Manasseri talks about her new favorite extracurricular activity.

For the past three years, I’ve experienced Washington, D.C. while immersed in a world of academia. My life has revolved around school; and in this way, my collegiate tasks have become my job, often involving reading an endless stream of articles, writing papers, giving presentations, and taking exams. This semester, however, I have had the pleasure of embarking on another journey. What I call my “job” is in fact quite different despite its office setting; and my experience working as an editorial intern at Island Press is more like a wonderful extracurricular activity than a strictly professional pursuit. To say that interning at Island Press has been eye-opening would be an understatement. I’ve discovered that there is so much more to the organization than simply publishing books. In particular, the Editorial Department has a hand in so many aspects of the writing and developing process, from guiding the authors to clearer tables of contents and organizational structures within their manuscripts, to sitting down and pulling apart a chapter in order to ensure that it truly contributes to the overall value of the book. The care and consideration I see from the editors on a daily basis is inspiring; and I have the utmost respect for the heartfelt advice and extensive work they pour into each project. It doesn’t matter if they have been working with an author for a month or over two years – and their patience and perseverance is reflected in the exceptional content of Island Press’s books. My favorite part, however, has come in the form of my two weekly meetings on Wednesdays. In the morning, I sit down with my two supervisors in the Editorial Department, and I get to be a part of the conversion about all of the current projects, from proposals to manuscripts already in the works. After this meeting concludes, I have a little time for some of my own assignments: reading over book proposals and writing reviews, contacting authors, assessing permissions for artwork, among other tasks. Then, finally, we have the main event: the week’s roundtable meeting. At roundtable, projects that are under consideration are brought in, and each department gets to weigh in on the pros and cons of pursuing publication. It is absolutely fascinating to hear what each individual has to say about these books – from production costs, marketing strategies, and how the content of the book fits into Island Press’s mission for “Solutions that Inspire Change,” each and every participant provides valuable contextualization and advice for whether or not the book is the right fit. The mood is always friendly, and disagreements are encouraged; and there’s no shortage of witty banter preceding each discussion. No matter how serious the issue, these meetings give one the reassurance of the knowledge that the very best, most passionate environmentalists are giving it their all in the fight to bring about sustainable change.