This is the Anthem crew, whom I’ve spent 8 hours/day 5 days/week with the past two 1/2 months! I’m going to miss them!
Category Archives: Internship
(‘Second to last’ – yes, I’ve been itching to use that word for quite some time now.)
Tomorrow is my last day of the internship! The last two weeks have been agonizingly slow, but the past couple days have seemed like a slippery frog jumping out of my hands and I only manage to catch it for a couple seconds at a time.
Monday started the biggest yearly event in the publishing world…the London Book Fair! Just a short 15 minutes away from where I work, in Earls Court. Anthem Press had two tickets, and my boss graciously let me and another guy I work with, Rob, take yesterday afternoon off to go wander around at the LBF. We had no idea what to expect. I had envisioned a big room where publishing companies set up shop and sell their books. Wrong. Well, kind of right, but mostly wrong. It was in a big room and each publishing house had set stuff up, but I wouldn’t call what they set up ‘shop’ – more like each house created its own mini bookstore/office/lounge area. There were bookshelves filled with the most exciting covers that served as the walls between each house’s area (some of the biggest houses, like Random House and Hodder & Stoughton had actual walls), and there were little tables & chairs set up inside. It looked like a bunch of trendy bookstore-cafes got together in one room, except they didn’t sell coffee (although there were real cafes and watering holes also spread out throughout the convention center). Most people were dressed professionally in suits and the like. Basically, the London Book Fair is not so much a place to sell books, but a place where publishers can conduct interviews with desperate young bookies like myself, agents can meet authors and publishers, authors can pitch book ideas to publishers, publishers can learn about good printers, and all sorts of business meetings can be held in one convenient location. There are also talks and interviews with authors to attend. Rob and I listened in on one talk about how publishing companies need to begin the process of publishing a book with the idea that it is going to be published in different forms (i.e. a physical book, ebook, etc.), and not just create it only thinking about how it will turn out physically – not just deciding as an afterthought, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s make this an ebook, too’. I’m actually not sure that’s what the talk was about, but that’s what I got from it.
Of course, everyone in publishing is obsessed with the New Media – they’re either singing its praises or making doomsday predictions about the Death of the Book. Personally, I prefer reading actual hard-copy books. I like my books to be ‘loved’, as I call them – practically destroyed with all of the dog-earring, highlighting, scribbling, folding, and bending which I subject them to. On the other hand – as I sit and gaze at the ever-growing stack of books that must fit inside my suitcase and it hits me that the articles of clothing I brought have also magically doubled in number – a Kindle wouldn’t be too bad, you know. Yes, I do think that the inevitable future holds more ebooks and iPads and the like, but I don’t think the Book is going to die. I think it may be like writing by hand. While calligraphy is very rare as an art form and most people don’t write by hand as much as they use computers, it is still useful to know how to write by hand. As long as physical books are still useful to have (and I think they are), they’ll still be around, even if most people end up using their Kindles and Nooks or whatever for the sake of convenience. And with all that said, I think it’s smart for publishing companies to plan from the beginning of the publishing process to have an ebook version of each manuscript.
It was definitely a good experience to see the LBF and realize (again) that publishing is just as much a business industry as pretty much anything else. Books just happen to be our product. But that makes all the difference, really. I enjoy the business side of the publishing world, but I would never want to work at a bank or for Apple or for Ford or for Samsung. The business of publishing is enjoyable because I really do love the product, and I really do believe in the product.
Today is almost over… Tomorrow I expect to shed a couple tears, share a few hugs, and enjoy a round with the people who have been the principal part of my experience here in London.
One of the most wonderful things I’ve experienced here is something that I’ve heard about, something I could describe, something I’ve read about so often I thought it was cliche… spring. Right now in California the weather is typically California: 70 one day, 90 the next, 80 after that, sunny, rainy, cloudy, humid. I never knew what spring was. I now understand why countless English poets and authors have found an unquenchable fountain of inspiration in this amazing phenomenon. Every day is a little warmer. Every day a few more daffodils bloom. Every day I hear birds singing earlier in the morning and later in the evening. These words are indeed cliche, but the experience of spring is something that could never get old.
I just got back from a weekend in Oxford. How refreshing to be back in that city! Such a different feel from London. Everything is so close. I miss walking on those streets, surrounded by history but fully participating in modern culture. I visited my friend Kate and we had a great time. The Oxford Literary Festival was going on so I got to indulge in looking at all the newest books published and write down some titles to hopefully buy cheaper on Amazon later 🙂 Also, there was a chocolate festival! Free samples, yes please. We ate lunch at my favorite tea shop, The Rose, and had dinner at the famous Eagle and Child (the Bird and Baby, as it’s known colloquially).
This morning we went to church at St. Aldate’s, a charismatic, contemporary Anglican church. When I was at Oxford I preferred not to attend there because it was a little too close to normal. I wanted to experience the rigid, reverent traditions of the high Anglican churches. And that was perfect for me at the time. Today, I needed the homey comfort of a contemporary service. The most important thing was that I felt the Holy Spirit in those people, and I experienced fellowship, which I haven’t felt since I’ve been here. It just reaffirmed how important a church family is, to gather with people not just for the sake of socializing, but to share in experiencing God together and encouraging each other in our personal relationships with Him. They held an infant baptism, and I was able to share in the joy of that congregation welcoming a beautiful infant into the church. Again, spring. New life. Nowhere is new life seen more than in the church.
I’m back now in London at my home for the next 16 days. I’m anxious, impatient to go home. This internship has been awesome and I would love to keep doing this work, if only I could be wherever my fiance and family and friends are. I’m starting to get excited about planning my wedding. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always been excited, but London had to happen first. Now that it has and I’m close to finishing, I’m looking ahead to what’s next. Just a few more days.
There’s a scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway, as the newbie assistant to big-time fashion magazine editor Meryl Streep, is taking notes during a meeting and all the fashionistas and gurus are trying to decide what outfits will be used in the newest issue. One of the other assistants holds up two nearly identical belts (as far as I can tell from watching the movie, the only difference is slightly varied buckles) and cries, ‘Ooh, I don’t know – they’re so similar!’ Anne Hathaway’s immediate response is a bewildered chuckle (as in ‘Oh! That was a good joke’) and everyone in the room stops. And Meryl Streep continues to calmly give a bone-chilling, insert-foot-in-mouth speech about how Anne Hathaway’s character has NO CLUE about this industry and doesn’t appreciate how it impacts her life.
So… my situation wasn’t that bad. It actually wasn’t bad at all. It went rather well, in fact.
My boss invited me in his office to discuss a marketing project I was working on, and we started talking, but then he stopped suddenly as if just remembering something and smacked two absolutely identical books down in front of me.
‘Here – just feel these and tell me which one you like better’, he said.
‘Oh, erm, um, ok’. Highly wary of such tests, I took each book, flipped through the pages, felt the cover, wracking my brains thinking, ‘What am I looking for?!’ There were slight differences (or maybe my desperation to find differences tricked me into believing they were there), so I picked one the one whose hardback cover felt a little thinner and whose pages were a bit silkier to the touch (at least – I think they were).
‘I like that one’, I said.
‘Do you?’ he asked. Ahhhh stomach-twisting anxiety. I picked the wrong one!
‘Oh, that’s interesting’, he continued. ‘Yes, I like that one, too. This other one’s a little nicer with the rubbery finish on the cover and the binding is glued in such-and-such a way… but I think this one is fine, too. Thanks’.
And that was that.
I guess the lesson I learned here was that when a publishing house writes in a job description that they want someone with an eye for detail, they mean: someone who does not let ANYTHING pass them by. It’s a good lesson to learn now, and I’m definitely trying to look at the text and the books with a more critical eye.
Almost three weeks in now, and I’m still loving it.
I keep thinking, “I could really get paid to do this?” I have to say, I think I’ve finally found something that I can see myself doing as a career.
I have now finished copyediting two more books, a biography and a collection of short stories. Obviously, the short stories were such a treat. How I had made it this far in life—especially as an English major—without reading Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Scandal in Bohemia,” I have no idea. I guess that’s the part of this job that I am enjoying the most—the chance to read so many things: things I’ve always wanted to read, things I never wanted to read (but have the chance to be pleasantly surprised by), and things I never would’ve even known about otherwise. I have so many opportunities to enrich my mind.
My other responsibilities have increased as well. I’m in contact with many more authors, asking them to peer review books. And I’m helping my boss with a couple online projects. First, I’m helping to develop the site plan for the website of a new imprint called Thames River Press. For those of you who don’t know, Anthem Press is a small branch or “imprint” of the Wimbledon Publishing Company. While Anthem Press focuses on academic and serious material, Thames River Press will focus more on “trade” books: fiction and non-fiction. I’m part of the team brainstorming what the Thames River Press will become—I’m writing the mission statement and the “About Us” page. Maybe I’m putting more pressure on myself than needed (does anybody really read that stuff anyway?), but I feel like this is a big responsibility and I want to do it well. This directly deals with how the company appears to the public.
Second, I’m also helping to develop the Anthem Press blog. This is exciting because now I feel like there is another reason for me to keep working on this blog, to learn all I can to make the Anthem Press blog the best it can be. I’m also really glad I had experience in charge of the Sigma Tau Delta blog at Azusa Pacific University.
I’m really flattered that I’m being allowed such a role in the company. Maybe it’s really just what everyone does and it’s nothing special, but it’s certainly more than I expected to be able to do. I love that I’m getting real “hands-on” experience that’ll look good on a resume.
But more than that, I’m also really enjoying the other interns. The sad part of this internship is that people are coming and going, so I’m not sure how many really meaningful relationships can be made. Yet so far I’ve enjoyed getting to know a British girl named Katie, who’s been doing graphic design, and a British guy named Rob, who’s the other editing intern (besides me). Most of our conversations have centered on the differences between American and British culture (always a funny topic), but we’ve started getting to know each other and become comfortable. Katie’s last day is tomorrow, but I hope we can stay in contact.
I’ll write again sooner next time, I promise.
It’s Saturday. It’s been almost a week since I sent Andrew off back to the US, and I stayed behind, trusting that God knew what He was doing putting me in London. I think He did.
The internship is fantastic. The dress code is “smart casual,” which can be interpreted in American as “business casual.” I’ve traded my jeans and Rainbows (and sunshine, for that matter) for slacks and heels (in the gray rain). Every morning I join the Londoners waiting on the platform for the Underground, or the “Tube,” to take us to Work.
For me, Work is being the epitome of a grammar nerd. Fixing comma splices and misspelled words sounds like torture to most, but doing something you’re good at, and you enjoy, and you’ve trained for, is satisfying. Not all can say that they’re actually using the degree they earned. I’m very blessed to say that I am.
So. Here’s what I’m doing:
I spend the morning copyediting–essentially, proofreading a manuscript that’s been submitted for publication. I didn’t realize how much power I have doing this job. Changing something as small as a comma can completely change the meaning of a sentence. I have to try to preserve as much as I can of what the author meant. But I’m not the author, and I read things differently. I don’t think that the author’s intended meaning is the only way something could/should be interpreted, but I feel that as an editor my first obligation is to the author, who has put him/herself in a vulnerable position by letting me touch what they’ve worked on for years. Let the audience interpret as they will once it’s left my hands, but while it’s in my hands, I am aiding the author. Let me just say to all the English majors, never underestimate your own power as someone with authority and knowledge about written words, arguably our prime method of communication. We have a responsibility to use our knowledge ethically. Ok, done preaching.
In the afternoon I get to do the more “fun” part of the job. You know the quotes on the backs of books that say, “This is the best book of the season because of x, y, and z”? I get to contact people who are authorities on the subject of a certain book (i.e., if the book is about the global economy, I contact professors, government officials, businessmen, and other authorities on economics) and ask them to read the book before it is published, and to send us a short endorsement of the book. I become the face of the company to those people. I take care of all their needs (if they have trouble accessing the file, or need more information about the author, etc.). My emails to them must be professional, because impressions inform our relationships. Having someone write an endorsement is a great way to start a relationship with them, to open the door to possibly even publishing their own work some day.
It may be basic stuff, but I see the importance behind it. I know I’m really contributing to the company, and I have quite a bit of responsibility, even though I’m “just” an intern.
On the whole, my first week’s impression is very positive. The jury is still out, obviously, but I have enough knowledge to say that I’m excited to see what happens next.