Each summer, Penn Press welcomes interns to introduce them to the world of academic publishing, asking them to participate in and contribute to the ongoing work of academic publishing in four departments: Acquisitions, Production, Marketing, and Business. Their valuable contributions help keep us up and running, but we hope that we are also able to give them something back: knowledge, skills, and a more complete understanding of the publishing world. At the end of their time, our interns have the opportunity to look back on their experience in a series of blog posts that we call Intern Reflections. Last week, we published a post from Alex Anderson, and now we have a thoughtful contribution from Claire Daly.
When I was a kid, I loved writing my own stories, and no story was complete until it had been bound (stapled together), dedicated (always to my mom), and summarized with a snappy blurb. I even made up my own publisher, Red Balloon Press, to "publish" all of my creations. So it is no surprise that I grew up to be an English major, interning at the University of Pennsylvania Press.
When I found out I would be interning at Penn Press, I was excited for the opportunity to play even a small role in the process of turning a manuscript to a bound book. I was also excited to stay in Philly for the summer. Since I am studying abroad in the fall, I was happy to spend a little more time on Penn's campus.
I spent the first half of my summer in the Business department, and the second half in the Acquisitions department. Going in, I had no idea what to expect from the Business department. What I found is that it’s a lot of the "behind-the-scenes" stuff that is necessary for the Press to run. It was an interesting department to start my summer in, since the Business department only really sees the book at the end of the life cycle of a manuscript, after it has been printed.
One of my primary tasks was to help nominate books for awards. It was my job to check that the title fit with all the award requirements, and then contact the author and the awards committee. This process emphasized one of the greatest takeaways from the Business department, which is the importance of professional communications skills. Even though I was just an intern, I had the responsibility of representing the Press and had to be professional in my correspondence with various academics.
In the Acquisitions department, I worked on some of the little things that you might forget about when you think about what goes into acquiring a manuscript. I conducted word counts to make sure authors were within the agreed-upon limit. I sorted through images to make sure that their resolutions were high enough for print, and confirmed that the author acquired the necessary permissions to use them in their book. I sent advanced book copies to authors, and they were always very excited to hear that their printed book was finally arriving.
I was also able prepare manuscripts for transmittal, which is the meeting where all Press staff hear about the project and the torch is passed on from Acquisitions to the other departments. I had to format the manuscripts according to Penn Press guidelines, and every small detail from spacing to indentation to italics needed to be checked.
I found the weekly transmittal meetings one of the most interesting parts of my summer at the Press. I enjoyed listening to editors present their recently approved projects, summarizing the manuscript, the intended audience and if the book was to be part of one of the Press’ series. Details such as print run, how many images the text would contain, and publicity were also discussed, and the title was often debated.
However, my favorite part of the internship has been the intern seminars. They provided a glimpse into all the different facets of the Press, and it has been fascinating to see how they all interact and depend on each other. I particularly liked our final ‘job talk’ seminar, where staff told us about how they arrived at their current roles and gave advice on how to navigate the publishing job market.
I have had a fantastic experience at Penn Press and I’m thankful that I got to be part of the publishing world for the summer.