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Internships Are a Win–Win for Publishers and Students

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From the Publisher’s
Perspective

 

by
Frank Gromling

 

After months of thinking
about it, and always finding a hundred other things to do instead, I finally
decided to hire an intern for my small press. Now, after working with my intern
for three months, I am so pleased with the results of my first internship that
I plan to offer similar opportunities to college students every semester. And I
am sorry that I waited so long to start an intern program. The first steps had
seemed too daunting, but the process turned out to be simple.

 

As a business executive and owner,
I had always provided educational opportunities for my employees, by
reimbursing them for successfully completing college courses, for example, or
by giving them extensive training so they could serve our customers better. I
knew that an intern program should be both educational and functional. I wanted
the intern to learn specific information about book publishing, and I wanted
the company to gain from the intern’s skills and knowledge.

 

The first task I set myself was
writing down exactly what I wanted the intern to learn. The list included key
book-publishing activities—like manuscript selection, cover and interior
design, editing, indexing, copyright registration, ISBN assignment,
distribution, promotion, and marketing—along with activities such as
author presentations and signings, retail outlet relations, and media contact.

 

The second task was writing down
what I wanted Ocean Publishing to gain from the intern’s talents. This list
included help with some basic office functions—such as telephone
answering, making inquiries of bookstores and libraries, creating databases of
leads—but not the most boring tasks, like filing and making copies. Although
many interns fully expect to do those chores, I just knew that I wanted more,
and expected more, from our internship program.

 

Plusses and Plusses

 

I sent my brief internship writeup
to two local colleges that have communication or business curricula. Luckily
for me, a bright and pleasant college senior, Lindsey Williams, called for an
interview. Lindsey, who attends Flagler College in nearby St. Augustine, came
prepared with a resume and handled the interview so well that I did not even
consider other candidates.

 

Lindsey has accomplished the
mundane tasks with accuracy and speed, and tackled the larger projects with
enthusiasm and skill. As a result of Lindsey’s work, Ocean Publishing has a new
sales brochure that is attractive and effective. The brochure has all our
titles and their covers displayed in a center layout, along with brief synopses
of the books and ordering information both for individuals and for retailers.

 

A major win–win aspect of
the brochure is that Lindsey submitted it to fulfill a course requirement. She
developed the brochure in Adobe InDesign, a software program she was learning
in college at the time.

 

Lindsey also created several new
databases of leads and customers, maintained Ocean’s log of query letters and
manuscripts, and provided an immense amount of help with tasks I have as
president of the Florida Publishers Association, including preparation and
administration for book shows such as SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers
Association).

 

On the educational side, I make
sure that Lindsey and I talk about different aspects of publishing, and I give
her articles and newsletters to help her gain greater insight into the business
of publishing. We have talked about bookstore and nonbookstore marketing, about
the importance of quality in all aspects of manufacturing and marketing, and
about how challenging it is for a new traditional publisher to make its mark in
a highly competitive industry.

 

My prior business life proved that
you get the best results when you put time into determining what you want, and
write it down. Now our intern program has proved it again. While I can’t
promise you that your interns will be as congenial and capable as Lindsey, I am
confident that finding the right intern will make a world of difference for
your press.

 

Frank Gromling has been a
business executive and company owner for over 30 years. In 2002, he started
Ocean Publishing, a traditional publishing house, which has published 10
titles—nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. He is the president of the
Florida Publishers Association and serves on the PMA board.

 

 

 

As the Intern Sees It

 

by
Lindsey Williams

 

My senior year of college
came faster than I expected. I had planned on doing an internship for some
time, but I had procrastinated. Suddenly, I realized that my resume would
contain no job experience in the area I wanted to enter, which was public
relations. I had been a waitress, a lifeguard, and a retail salesperson, but
none of these jobs would further my goal of finding a good position in my field.

 

So I went to my department chair’s
office and started searching through public relations–related internship
sites. I looked for a couple of days, found a few possible places, and then I
started calling around. My second phone call was to Ocean Publishing. The
small, independent publishing company was looking for a junior or senior
communication major, preferably with a public relations track, so I set up an
interview.

 

When I got the job, I was very
excited but also a little worried, because I had heard stories of other
students’ internship experiences. The positions were great for their resumes,
but the actual internships consisted of tedious tasks or busy work.

 

Creating and Contributing

 

I was fully prepared to spend my
time as an intern stuffing envelopes, but, luckily, that was not what happened.
I have learned so many things about every aspect of business, including
marketing and public relations, in my time at Ocean Publishing. I found a
company that was small, relatively young, and open to new ideas, and an owner
who encouraged me to express my opinions and be creative. I was able to be a
part of every aspect of the publishing process.

 

My tasks as an intern at Ocean
Publishing included putting together a promotional holiday sales letter, searching
bookstore sites for reviews and newsletters mentioning our books, and recording
and reading through query letters and manuscript submissions. I also created a
flyer to promote a speaking engagement for two of Ocean Publishing’s authors. I
have been able to have fun and learn from all the projects we’ve done day to
day.

 

Toward the end of my internship,
Mr. Gromling asked me if there was anything I would like to do for Ocean
Publishing that would incorporate skills I was learning as a part of my major.
So I started to make a media kit for the company. Because I created the
brochure in the kit by using a computer program I had been introduced to in one
of my classes, I learned the program inside and out. Now, I will be able to use
the brochure as a part of my portfolio for future jobs.

 

Interning with Ocean Publishing
gave me a place to utilize and develop the skills I have been learning the past
four years in college. Furthermore, I have learned the true importance of
public relations when it comes to selling a book or any other product. Ocean
Publishing authors participate in book signings, local book festivals, speaking
engagements, and other events to increase circulation for their books and
establish their names in the community.

 

My overall experience as an intern
with Ocean Publishing has been valuable. I learned something new every day and
felt as though I was really able to contribute to the company. The experience
hasn’t just enhanced my resume; it has equipped me with knowledge and skills
that will help me find my ideal job.

 

Lindsey Williams received
her associate of arts degree from Daytona Beach Community College and will
receive her BA in communication/public relations from Flagler College in April
2006. She plans to teach English while learning Spanish in Spain before seeking
a job in public relations with a small to medium-sized company.

 

 

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