Learning how to become an editor doesn’t happen overnight. Editing isn’t a college major. Some English degree programs offer a specialization in editing and publishing, most do not. There are a handful of certificate programs in professional and graduate degree programs, but the art of editing goes far beyond knowing grammar and the basics of copyediting. A full-time job as an editor isn’t an entry-level position and many recent graduates who might one day become editors have a difficult time navigating a route to this career goal.
Many publishers won’t hire someone full-time who hasn’t already had an internship or two. And while they offer internships, typically they are unpaid and sometimes require a student register for college course credit. Instead of getting paid to work, they pay several thousands of dollars in tuition to gain valuable work experience. As a former college professor who supervised some of these internships, I would be disheartened to learn students had been given low-level tasks to perform which did not increase their skill sets or worse, had them perform tasks which the company ought to have hired an employee to do. Too often, interns provided an unpaid labor pool instead of an apprenticeship.
Cultivating the next generation of editors requires mentors who can offer educational opportunities within a workplace setting. Instead of treating an intern as unpaid labor, cultivating their strengths and working on building new skill sets takes time and effort that goes beyond the regular work demands of running a business. But it has been important for me to do so, as I had plenty of mentors who invested their time and talents in me.
Since I started this business in 2011, I have had a number of (paid) interns who have gone on to do well in the business of books.
Danielle Sherwood (Intern 2011-2012) moved from Ithaca back to the Seattle area and took a position with 45th Parallel Communications. She became a bookseller at Barnes & Noble in 2014 and is now Merchandise Manager.
Bethany Dixon (Intern 2012-2013) runs her own bakery business and is a foodie blogger at Pies & Pinups.
Ava Russell (Intern 2014) took a position with a medical online publisher and is now Senior Editorial Assistant for UpToDate (Wolters Kluwer), an evidence-based, physician-authored clinical knowledge system serving clinicians who need to make point-of-care decisions.
Samantha Kolb (Intern 2015-2016) graduated from St. Norbert College last month and I attended one of the performances of the play she wrote.
Alanna Reiser (Intern 2016) graduates from Lawrence University this month with a double major in English and French and will spend the next year in France.
More recently, Trace Sonnleitner joined Swenson Book Development as an intern and has written blogs on DIY editing tools and an interview with Elizabeth Rynecki, author of Chasing Portraits. He’s working on revisions to his novel and gaining experience that improves his writing craft. Trace lives in Appleton and recently graduated from Lawrence University
Now this summer, we welcome Skye Iwanski. Skye is the youngest intern I’ve recruited and her high school experiences working on the student newspaper and in the community as an artist and activist brought her to my attention.
Skye is a college-bound Appleton North High School graduate who spends much of her time practicing musical instruments, working on her novel and short stories, teaching herself how to draw, paint, and crochet, reading a lot, writing poetry, taking photographs, collecting mugs and pins, and daydreaming about traveling the world. This summer she is also a camp counselor at Camp Nan A Bo Sho and this fall she starts at Bemidji State University.
You’ll see more of Skye this summer as she writes a few blogs, gives Swenson Book Development LLC more visibility on Instagram, and helps us promote the new releases from Carolyn Porter, Marcel’s Letters, and Linda J. Spielman, A Field Guide to Tracking Mammals in the Northeast (Countryman Press).