Interning with a Publishing Company

books published by DAW

Two months in (over halfway done with the semester, where did the time go?) and you’re probably wondering what I’m actually doing here in New York, huh? Well, I’m participating in the New York Arts Program (NYAP), where the primary focus is to set students up in internships that appeal to their creative passions. I’m specifically enrolled in the Writing & Communications section, though the NYAP also works with students involved in visual art, theater, and music.

For the program, I’m interning with a small publishing company called DAW Books (named after one of its founders, Donald A. Wollheim) for 30 hours every week. Despite being located in the Penguin Random House building, the company is actually private, meaning that the two amazing women who own the company, Sheila Gilbert and Betsy Wollheim, make the final decisions.

Though DAW is small, they have a lot of big names in fantasy and science fiction associated with them, including Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, C.J. Cherryh, Kristen Britain, Seanan McGuire, Merecedes Lackey, and Tanith Lee.

DAW Books is run by a handful of people, so my internship isn’t in one department or another, but allows me to witness all aspects of the publishing world and gear my internship towards what I am interested in (which is primarily editorial, but honestly, everything fascinates me).

internship badge

Lately, a lot of my job has been reading manuscripts from the slush pile (unsolicited manuscripts aka work from writers not represented by an agent). I’m required to read the first 100 pages of the manuscript and then I decide if I want to “reject” it or recommend it for further consideration. If I want to recommend a manuscript, I have to read it to its entirety. With each manuscript I read, I have to write a “book report” for it, which includes filling out four categories: overview, summary, review, and other thoughts. So far a lot of the manuscripts have been…erm, cringey, but I’ve learned that’s to be expected with the slush pile.
(UPDATE: After meeting with my sponsor–who was rather pleased with my reports–I’m now allowed to read as little as the first 20 pages. *brushes shoulder in attempted nonchalant manner*)

At my internship, I get to juggle a lot of other back burner projects, as well. I regularly check google alerts for book reviews to add to the quotes database, update their cover catalog, and send out semi-weekly emails with publishing news. I’m also working on a project that involves updating online information for some of DAW’s backlist titles.

In addition, I have the frequent duties of copying manuscript pages with edits (in case the original document gets lost), proofreading covers & dust jackets, compiling praise quotes, and helping organize books.

DAW is incredible in many ways such as providing free lunch and coffee everyday to all their employees, including me! As a woman who hates cooking and who is currently in NYC where everything is expensive, this is literally a godsend.

As a book nerd completely smitten with the fantasy genre, interning at DAW Books has been an invaluable experience so far. Not only has my knowledge of the publishing industry grown leaps and bounds, but my time at DAW has reaffirmed my dream to pursue a career in publishing after college.

Maintaining My Book-Nerd Status Away from Home

As an English major and a book-nerd, I eat, sleep, and breathe books, so it only makes sense that I talk about them here!

I’m slowly adapting to the busy life style of New York and starting to explore events around the city. Of course, my favorite excursions have included hitting up nearby bookstores and comic stores with my roommate, especially the times when I got my books signed and meet some of my favorite authors. I’ve only managed to go to a couple events so far, but I will no doubt be keeping my eyes open for more!

On January 17th, I hit the subway and made my way up to the Barnes & Noble on 86th street to hear 3 YA (young adult) fantasy authors (Roshani Chokshi, Melissa Albert, S.A. Chakraborty) speak and celebrate the release of Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves. I had been fortune enough to win an ARC (advance reader copy) of the book beforehand, so I was ecstatic to hear and meet the author. I was completely unaware of the event until a couple days prior when I was googling “Free Events in NYC,” so it was such a coincidence that I had been reading the book at the same time!

The week after that, on January 23rd, I hit up the famous Strand bookstore to see Holly Black, co-author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, and author of the Tithe series, The Cruel Prince, and the recently released The Wicked King. Holly Black is amazing and has been dubbed by her many fans as the “Queen of Faeries” (she even has the bright blue hair and pointy ears to prove it!).

(As you can see above, I totally failed to ask Holly Black for a picture, so my roommate only managed to snap a quick pic of me getting my book signed, hence my head being cut of in the picture)

One of my favorite things about book events is the sense of community it provides. When the author references their own work, everyone in the crowd knows what’s they’re talking about, allowing for inside jokes and shared laughs. A lot of my friends don’t read the same type of books I do (or at least not to the same extent that I do), so it’s comforting to sit beside readers similar to myself and “fangirl” alongside them.

And as a book-nerd, hearing all of these brilliant ladies speak was insanely inspiring. From hearing Holly Black explain how she never writes a book right on the first try, to┬áRoshani Chokshi stating that writing projects don’t have expiration dates and that “they won’t go bad if you give them time,” really spoke to me as a student, artist and a writer. Not to mention, my TBR pile (to-be-read pile) has grown immensely from hearing these writers speak.

Prior to NYC, I had only been to a handful of book events and I have ambitious plans to change that this semester. I have no doubt that by the end of the semester, I will be leaving NYC with a suitcase full of books.