By Free Spirit intern Liz S.
Free Spirit has an active internship program. Each semester, we invite our publishing interns to write a post reflecting on their experiences at Free Spirit.
I graduated from college this past May with a dream of working in publishing. I had some experience under my belt, but I felt that something was missing. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work—or what type of publishing would bring me the most joy.
A friend and past intern then suggested Free Spirit Publishing to me. As I browsed their books online and read about their history, I opened my eyes to a chapter of publishing that I had previously not given much attention to. Quickly into my internship at Free Spirit, I fell in love with their mission to provide children (and the adults that care for them) with the opportunity to think for themselves and overcome challenges. Free Spirit doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, such as anxiety and depression or even losing a friend. I was—and still am—inspired by what children’s books are capable of doing for young readers.
Not only did my time at Free Spirit reaffirm my passion for book publishing, it provided me diverse experiences that can apply directly to entry-level positions at other publishers, allowing me to step confidently out of Free Spirit and into the workforce. Here are just a few of the skills Free Spirit helped me develop over the summer:
- Technical writing and editing. From writing and compiling newsletters and catalogue copy to copyediting blog posts, my technical writing and editing skills saw significant improvement. The staff provided constructive feedback, so I was able to see what worked and what I could improve on. I learned about keeping copy concise but informative and writing for your specific audience: “A book that’s for everyone is for no one.”
- Critical/creative critique. Throughout the summer, I reviewed and rated submissions before sending them off to the editors. By comparing what I thought to editors’ reviews, I was able to hone my eye, asking questions like, Does this fit Free Spirit’s mission? Does it compete with any of our existing titles? Does this work for our audience—primarily the classroom? I also had the opportunity to review manuscripts we had decided to pursue, offering feedback on content and voice. These opportunities were some of my favorite. Editing and working with concepts are what I’m most passionate about, so I’m grateful to have gained experience and grown in something I love to do.
- Knowledge of the publishing industry. The internship program at Free Spirit is a general one, allowing interns to assist with projects from multiple departments—mainly marketing/publicity and editorial. By working around the office and attending staff meetings, I witnessed how interconnected a publishing company is. Although every department and staff member has their role and their own projects, they depend on each other to get a book from its beginning concept to a published work. I was able to participate in the small steps as well as witness how those tasks fit into a larger process. Interns are also encouraged to schedule informational interviews with a number of staff. Through these opportunities, I learned more about the roles within a publishing house and how they fit together. (As a quieter person, I was also able to step out of my comfort zone and build connections with the people I was working with!)
- Administrative work. Corresponding with authors, learning how to apply for copyright, researching competing titles or potential conferences to attend, mailing review copies: these are all small tasks that function beneath the surface but are crucial in keeping a publishing company moving. I was able to take part in these processes, gaining valuable technical skills that I can take with me.
These opportunities—as well as the many others I received this summer—have allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. I encourage all those new to publishing to consider interning at Free Spirit (learn more about it here); it is such a well-rounded program with a passionate and friendly company. I can easily say that my internship with Free Spirit has been one of the best work experiences I’ve had thus far, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the staff for allowing me to join them for the past three months.
Liz S. was a summer 2019 publishing intern at Free Spirit Publishing. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in May with degrees in English and cultural studies and comparative literature, and she has accepted a position at Beaming Books beginning this September.
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