This summer Samantha Kolb completed an internship with Swenson Book Development LLC. Here she shares some of what she learned in the last 10 weeks.
As an English major, I have learned to endure perplexed looks when family and friends ask what my major is. I have also learned to gracefully answer no to the follow-up question; “Oh, are you going to be an English teacher?” As far as teaching English is concerned, it is a noble profession and I applaud all who will take up that torch. My answer is that I am interested in a career in publishing after college.
As a summer intern for Swenson Book Development L.L.C, I have learned four things every English major should know about publishing.
Publishing is a Business. It isn’t just about reading manuscripts and turning them into books. There’s a business aspect that doesn’t seem to come to mind when thinking about what to do with an English major. Contracts need to be reviewed, market research to be completed, submission guidelines to follow. While editing manuscripts certainly is part of the process of publishing a book, that is only a small percentage of what is involved with publishing a book. Distribution, profit-loss statements, copyright royalties, and sales are as important to understand as grammar and punctuation. I learned about Publisher’s Marketplace where I can gain access to job postings and a database of agents, publishers, editors, and lists of book deals.
Read. It seems like a simple request, but part of knowing what readers want is to keep up with new releases. This summer I finished Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See. It is important to keep up to date on what books make the news. Shelf Awareness and Publisher’s Weekly give you daily news about new books and authors.
Not Personal. Growing a thick skin is important. If your book gets rejected, keep in mind it is not a reflection of you as a person. Today’s publishing world is more competitive than ever, and the rejection of your book means the work itself is not the right fit in the current market. But don’t fret; there are many more publishing companies out there than just the big names. It may take some time to find the right fit. .
Not Glamorous: Sorry to burst your English major bubbles. The world of publishing is not as glamorous as television may make it seem. You have to look over tons of paperwork and tell aspiring authors the truth about their work which may leave them upset or vengeful. You need to know math and understand marketing. Getting into the publishing world does not guarantee you red carpet parties or Good Morning America interviews. The glamour would be in helping an author get their story out there, and the gratitude from the people whom you have helped.
Please know teaching isn’t the only noble profession for English majors. And that if you love reading and writing but your degree is in business, there is more than likely a place for you in publishing. Next time your great-aunt Petunia asks “What are you doing with that English degree?” tell her “I’m going into publishing.”
Samantha Kolb is a junior at St. Norbert College working toward a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Theatre. Passionate about literature and the arts, Samantha is a member of the sorority Delta Phi Epsilon and the English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta. She loves to read and write and hopes it leads to a career in publishing.