In this program, the importance of internships is something that we students are constantly reminded of (though of course this is not isolated to the publishing industry—many graduate programs not only encourage extracurricular internships, but require them). We’re told that internships are an invaluable way to meet important industry professionals for networking purposes and gain real-world publishing experience, which they absolutely are. It can’t be denied, though, that internships are often stressful, because let’s face it: once you’re done with the hard work of finding an internship, you’re rewarded with more work. And this is on top of an already rigorous course load that includes academic classes and hands-on work within Ooligan Press! When we begin our internships, it’s with the fervent wish of gamblers everywhere that this bet will pay off. We hope and pray that the hours we put in will be worthwhile.
I haven’t needed luck this term, though: the deck’s been stacked in my favor. For my second internship during my time in the program, I’ve been working at Hawthorne Books, the esteemed independent press here in Portland, under the phenomenal Rhonda Hughes and Liz Crain. I knew from the get-go that this internship would be useful to me—and enjoyable, to boot. I had a great time getting to know Rhonda during my time in her marketing and publicity class last fall; I was so impressed by her knowledge and attitude that when I heard that she offered internships to Ooligan students, I didn’t hesitate to apply.
I work for Hawthorne Books twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. Officially, my title (beyond “intern”) is “Publicity Assistant,” which means that the vast majority of the work I do is related to marketing and publicity. I’ve been working primarily with Ariel Gore’s latest memoir, The End of Eve, which is fantastic: a funny, gritty, heartfelt look at mother-daughter relationships, different incarnations of family, and queer and feminist responses to caregiving, The End of Eve has the potential to strike a chord with a variety of audiences. It’s been my job over the past month or so to send out story pitches and review requests to national and regional media outlets; I’ve also targeted and contacted media outlets in the cities she’s stopping in to do readings or events for her national book tour (which she booked herself!).
Much of this kind of work is time-consuming or repetitive, but I don’t mind; the work simply has to be done. This is how books are promoted! Besides, it’s been a great experience to share my excitement about an amazing story in a professional setting, and I’ve already gotten back multiple positive responses from people who’d like to provide coverage for the book. Next, I’ll likely start working on media coverage requests for Tom Spanbauer’s new novel, I Loved You More.
Though my passion is editing, I’m glad to be doing this kind of work after spending so much time honing my editing skills within the book publishing program. Marketing and publicity skills are valuable things to have in your arsenal of abilities when you’re looking for a job in publishing (which I will be very, very soon—I graduate in June). The publishing program attempts, as much as possible, to create well-rounded generalist publishing professionals that will have a full range of talents and skills to offer the industry; I feel confident that I’ll go into my job search with a strong grasp of not only editing but also marketing, publicity, and professional communication, and my internship at Hawthorne Books has definitely helped me get to that point.