Each summer, Penn Press welcomes interns to introduce them to the world of academic publishing, asking them to participate in the ongoing work of at least one of our 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 blog posts that we call Intern Reflections. In this post, we hear from Nathalie Marquez.
With two semesters of virtual classes under my belt, I began my internship at Penn Press confident in my technical abilities, but unsure of what exactly constituted a marketing internship in publishing. This is largely due to the amorphous nature of being a Communications major, where the only requirement is, well, being able to communicate. With this major, there is no discernible industry or role waiting for you at the end of the yellow collegiate road. Nevertheless, due to the abundant kindness and help of the Marketing Department, I not only completed a variety of new and exciting tasks this summer, but was also able to cement publishing as the industry I wanted to pursue post-graduation.
Much like any other self-proclaimed book lover, I took the piles of titles stacked in bookstores and my apartment floor alike for granted, never once appreciating the reviews on the back cover, the amount of promotion the title underwent, or even where the book was stored before its journey to retail. During my short time at the Press, I was lucky enough to work with each of these elements, learning that the physical completion of a book by no means warranted the end of its journey in publishing. For example, these last few days I’ve emailed dozens of authors the PDFs containing reviews of their books, some of them two months old and others, two years old. Many of these reviews the authors had never even seen or heard of, and this simply emphasizes the importance of the meticulous publishing process, considering books go on to be read for decades by swarms of fresh readers.
Admittedly, the most difficult and, simultaneously, most exciting tasks I completed while at Penn Press were virtual in the technical sense, involving social media and influencers. It’s incredibly interesting (and somewhat worrying) how much social media can make or break the success of a title, and the hours I spent scouring different platforms in search of influential accounts revealed patterns of usage and niche Internet communities that I would have never seen on my own personal accounts. Seeing which platforms were popular among readers, which platforms lent themselves to reviews, and how the work of promotion varied depending on the social media were all insightful lessons to learn, especially considering how quickly the publishing industry changes along with the ever-developing Internet.
While working as a remote intern certainly had its benefits, I remain regretful I will not be able to do the more traditional aspects of a publishing internship, such as sitting in on a transmittal meeting in the flesh or running my fingers over the shelves of Penn Press titles, a whole new set every two seasons. However, it’s this perpetual work that goes into constantly producing new titles, combined with the innovative ways I have watched the marketing team tackle new challenges, that cemented my interest in the publishing industry and marked it as a future career. While I arrived at Penn Press as a confused but determined intern, I left with more knowledge and confidence in myself than I could have imagined at the beginning of this summer, not only because of the work I completed but also because of the warm marketing community that was willing to give me a chance.