Written by Emily Fradet, Acquisitions Intern, Summer 2021
Having just finished my time as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, I was faced with the daunting question every senior fears: now what? I’ve always had many interests within academia; I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. in Women’s Studies, and a minor in Religion because I can never decide what I like most. My career aspirations were no different and probably much more varied than my studies. Upon graduation, I had no idea what to do and, unfortunately, very few marketable skills to get a job in something I had interest in. I knew I eventually wanted to get my graduate degree, but after 2020, I needed a break from school.
Weeks before graduation, I stumbled upon the summer internship application for the University Press of Florida. I’ve always liked the idea of publishing and dream of one day publishing my own work; I thought it couldn’t hurt to apply. By some stroke of luck, I became an intern for UPF’s acquisitions department. Serendipitously, this internship turned out to be exactly what I needed.
As an undergraduate, I read endless journal articles and books, but the process between having an idea and publishing it seemed to be an enigma. I’ve written countless papers and even had the opportunity to do my own research, yet I didn’t know what made a work publishable or appealing. The acquisitions department answered so many of my questions about publishing and good academic writing. As an intern, I was partially responsible for UPF’s submissions email account, so my eyes were often the first to see an author’s proposal. It quickly became easy to distinguish what was a promising project.
Good proposals are well thought out, organized, and have a clear message and purpose. Typically, the author has already invested quite some time in the project, and their idea or perspective on a specific topic is one that hasn’t been published before. It’s essential that the author have some authority or experience in the field they are writing about to ensure they’re knowledgeable and qualified. Acquisitions editors also consider the marketability of a work. Even if the project meets all other requirements, if it doesn’t fill a gap in the industry or there isn’t a clear audience, then it’s not pursued at that time. This set of criteria unveiled the mystery of what editors look for when considering a proposal. With this information, I’m now a better critic of my own work and know how to present it in a more appealing fashion in order to find a press interested in collaborating with me if I wish to publish in the future.
As part of the acquisitions team, I also went through many authors, editors, and readers’ CVs, which was incredibly entertaining because I am very nosy. In all seriousness, it was immensely helpful to look at the different educational and career paths of so many scholars. I want to stay within the field of academia so seeing how greatly each resume varied was reassuring. I’ve seen so many different and surprising experiences on these resumes (the most memorable one being that of a circus roadie!) that I am sure there is no ‘right way’ to become a published author; each persons’ journey through academia and writing is unique and legitimate.
I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to be an acquisitions intern at UPF this summer. This experience has reaffirmed my interest in and love for writing, research, and publishing. I feel so much more confident in my knowledge and abilities. This position was an excellent transition from undergraduate studies to graduate school and more professional work environments. I applied for the internship on a whim, but the joy I experienced throughout this process was entirely unexpected. I can’t stress enough how much the UPF internship has given me. If you are thinking of applying, just do it.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone at UPF for being so kind and welcoming, the acquisitions department for allowing me to work within such an important step in the publishing process, and especially Mary Puckett and Rachel Welton for sharing so much of their time and knowledge with me. I cannot express my appreciation enough and I am so inspired by all of the staff, authors, and editors.
Emily Fradet is a recent graduate of the University of Florida in Psychology and Women’s Studies.