The best thing about the Ooligan Press graduate program, as I am sure you are aware, is the opportunity every student has to work on and publish actual books. This experience is what helps set Ooligan apart from other programs, and it sets the students up for success. While I haven’t yet experienced how the skills learned at Ooligan can be applied to full-time publishing jobs, I can speak to how Ooligan has helped me with my time as an intern.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had several internship opportunities with a wide range of publishing houses. My role and the types of tasks I’ve performed at each have ranged from contacting authors and bookstores to setting up author tour dates to “I totally forgot the intern was showing up today, does anyone have any envelopes that need stuffing?” And while the first option can definitely feel more rewarding, I can say from experience that there is a certain satisfaction in sending out countless advanced reader copies. It’s true that the vast majority of work you will perform as an intern may be relegated to the “busy work” category—compiling various lists, searching the internet for potential contacts, and the aforementioned stuffing of envelopes—and as tedious as the work was at times, absolutely everything I did as an intern was greatly appreciated. Generating contact sheets or sending out books for review aren’t the most glamourous assignments, but without those steps a book is doomed to failure. What allowed me to do these things well—to create useful contact lists and write outreach letters that had a chance of getting a response—was that I had plenty of practice from my time in Ooligan. Every now and again there were a few instances where I got to do the cool book marketing stuff, and when I told my mom what I did all day at my internship, those were my main talking points. The coolest thing I ever got to do was schedule a book tour for one of the more well-known authors at a publishing house. This included contacting stores, calling hotels, and coordinating with the author’s talent agent (yes, that’s right, talent agent) in order to have a successful book launch.
Aside from the actual work that was done, the best part of being a publishing intern is simply being inside an actual publishing house. Simply being around professionals in the industry and listening to the way they bounce ideas off of each other was the most beneficial part of my time there. One of my internships was for a small, two-person business, and witnessing the amount of hustle those two had when it came to procuring, producing, and promoting their titles was intoxicating. There are some things you can’t learn in school, and the grittiness required to run a successful small print publishing company is one of them. I’ve taken something away from all of my internships, and I’d like to think I’ve given something back. Through all of them, it was impossible to miss how the work I’ve done at Ooligan Press has helped set me on the path toward a career in the publishing field.