Thinking of doing an internship at a publishing house? University Press of Florida marketing intern Amber Paez offers some advice on what to expect and what to avoid during your internship experience.
Think “All for One.”
Before interning I had a vague idea of what it would be like to work at a publishing firm after college. I imagined there would be a lot of people doing mysterious things to get books published, interns grabbing coffee, and tough competition for New York offices. Maybe some of those ideas came from The Proposal or The Devil Wears Prada. So far I have never done a coffee run or been to New York City, but one of my expectations has proved true at the University Press of Florida: there are a lot of people involved. On my first day as an intern I was shown around the entire building, meeting and greeting people from different departments who contribute to the success of each book. Like cogs in a clock, each part hands off its work to the next. And at the end of the line is a newly published book.
I started interning as the Spring/Summer 2015 semester began. During that time I saw paperwork and emails exchanged between authors and marketing staff in preparation for the Fall/Winter 2015 season that was still about seven months away. Now that it’s summer I see why we started so early: it takes time to write releases, create campaigns, edit catalog copy, and design press kits. Before interning here I usually only thought ahead as far as dinner! The work ethic, preparation, and timeliness required in publishing one book—let alone a whole load of them per season—taught me to look at the “bigger picture.”
My favorite intern assignment has been working with Roger Hammer’s new book Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies in Tropical Florida. I got to scavenge a book filled with beautiful photos of butterflies, birds, and plants to find interesting facts about the wildlife in my own backyard. When I began I didn’t expect much of the information to stick with me because I am not an outdoors person. But one weekend this past April, during the Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park, I realized just how wrong I was. While walking through the Japan section of the World Showcase I spotted a Horseflesh Mahogany tree that had been described in detail in Hammer’s book. I turned to my friends and spilled everything I had read about it: it’s not real mahogany, first of all, and in 2012 UF researchers discovered the larvae of the pink-spot sulphur butterfly feeding on its leaves, causing butterfly enthusiasts to set out across South Florida in search of the tree. The revelation that I can relate the work I read to my own life inspires me to look at other topics, books, works, and assignments with a new eye.
Triple Check. Proofread. Repeat.
Have you ever dreamed of speaking in a huge lecture hall and hearing the crowd start to snicker? And when you look down all you have on is your underwear? Well, instead of those dreams I have dreams about messing things up at the press. What if I don’t notice the copier is set to 150 copies when I only mean to print one? Or what if I accidently print to the wrong printer and can never find it? What if I accidently ship a book to an accounting firm in Alaska instead of the New York Times? I’ve been fortunate to have received help when I’ve needed it; otherwise, we could have issued a press release with half a sentence missing, the wrong contact number, and the wrong release date. Yes, all in one release (it was a bad day). I’ve learned to triple check, proofread, and repeat before sending anything out.
Sniff a Book.
Whenever I buy a book from a bookstore I love to flip through the pages and just smell it. The older books’ long lives are defined by the musty smell hiding away in the wrinkles of dog-eared folds. However, until I worked at UPF I didn’t know how a book smelled before it got to bookstore shelves. At UPF I got the chance to flip through the pages of brand-new books and smell the gloss of freshly-printed photos before they were shipped off to bookstore shelves. Side note: book sniffing is a perfectly normal behavior.