I just spent a whole hour packing and weighing envelopes, receiving a few paper cuts in the process.
And you know what?
I was beaming almost the entire time.
This summer I took an internship at Bethany House Publishers—one of the most esteemed Christian publishing companies in the industry; they’ve held their ranking near the top because of their artistic covers, well-edited manuscripts, and strategic marketing and continue to improve every season.
I’ve had my eye on them ever since I was fourteen when I picked up my first BHP novel and decided that I wanted to help bring more inspirational books like that one into the world, but more specifically, I wanted to do it with their company. From that moment, I became a career-driven woman who was set on pursuing her dream and focused my whole future on making it to where I wanted to be.
At sixteen, I started writing book reviews for a website and then decided to go on my own not even a year later. I began college the same year and filled all of my electives with English courses—I was determined to build my experience and learn everything I could about books and publishing. I finished my Associates of Arts at eighteen and then found a university nearby that had offered a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Publishing (believe me when I say I “nerded out” because I was so excited to start). I worked at the university’s small press and obtained a position at the literary magazine as the Head Publicist.
During those six years, I kept my eye on the company and watched them change and grow. Even before I started my B.A., I’d routinely check up on their “Careers” page and read through the positions they were hiring for even though I knew I’d have to wait until I finished school. Yet, I kept on dreaming.
This past year, I was planning for my final semester in college and filtering through the course options I had in order to graduate—an internship was listed under one of the “goal areas” and I decided to research some ideas. I looked at my university, small presses in the area, and the whole time BHP was lingering in the back of my mind—their offices were a few hours away and it would be a dream come true for me. Though, the last time they had done one was in 2012, so I figured there was no chance. However, I was talking to one of my good friends and mentor, Jen Turano, about how much I wish they had offered them and she gave me an email and encouraged me to ask if they’d consider it. I anxiously wrote up a quick email and sent it, waiting for a “No” but was instead asked to send a resume. After some discussion and consideration, I went down to their offices for an interview and received an email back the next week stating that I was accepted.
I was trembling, crying, and calling everyone who was anticipating hearing the final answer—it was one of the greatest moments of my life.
The Adventure of a Lifetime:
A week after school finished, I trekked four-hours south to Minneapolis and settled in at a place that God had blessed me with after I stressed about short-term housing and living expenses to the point where I was dedicated enough to consider living out of my car for two and a half months. I seriously had a conversation with my mom who was questioning how I was going to get by financially and I told her, “If I have to live out of my car and shower at a church then I will because I am determined to go no matter what.” But God paved the way and blessed me abundantly so that I could be here.
On my first day, I stood in front of the looming brick building and felt so small. Doubts were swirling around in my head and I was worried that I had made some sort of mistake because I didn’t know if I was prepared enough. Did I remember everything I learned at school? Was my education sufficient? What if I don’t exceed expectations?
Then I walked in the door and saw this:
And I heard God whisper, “I brought you here and I plan to guide you through all of this.”
Then I was greeted by my two supervisors, Raela Shoenherr (Acquisitions Editor) and Amy Green (Fiction Publicist), and was put at ease. I was convinced to put the fear aside and make this the best ten weeks of my life.
They introduced me to everyone in the building and settled me into my very own office (if that’s not a great way to start, I don’t know what is!).
I was brought in as the Editorial and Marketing Intern and would be doing two of my favorite things—editorial tasks and publicity! I was given an explanation of how they planned on doing the internship and what was expected of me then I was given tasks right away and started my work immediately after I settled down. I walked out of there that afternoon with a grin on my face and filled with excitement to return the next morning.
Since then, I have been doing a handful of projects:
- By the end of my internship, I will have judged three book awards.
- I have a list of unpublished manuscripts to review for consideration—No pressure, am I right? 😉 Just kidding. I just offer opinions on the books and get to see how the proposals are written.
- I have been writing editorial reviews on unpublished manuscripts by our authors that I either haven’t had the time to read yet or absolutely adore!
- I was assigned a social media page to post on that needed attention, a task I love doing!
- I haven’t been to a photo shoot yet but I’m trying to get them to sneak me in. 😉
- I participated in a cover meeting where they brainstormed covers for next year!
- I wrote this blog post for the Bethany House Fiction blog—can you tell I had a lot of fun? 😉
- Under the supervision of Amy Green, I get to run a special street team for one of the BHP authors to promote their book. I’ve been on a handful of street teams so it’s exciting to be on the other side of things and be running one myself!
- Every season a catalog is sent out to stores and corporations with our new releases for them to order from and I was able to write eight of the entries for the Summer 2018 copy. It required some research and a lot of writing, but it was one of my favorite tasks. I wrote catalog pages for Jaime Jo Wright, Jen Turano, Elizabeth Camden, and a few others!
- I’m currently proofreading an upcoming novella collection that will be released in January of 2018 and it is a blast!
Those are just some of them! Exciting, am I right?! And before you try to bribe me to give details on our authors’ unpublished manuscripts, I’ll have you know it’s not going to work. 😉 I’m sworn to secrecy and very dedicated to this company. It is quite hard to keep all the excitement to myself, I will admit.
But still, not a word will be said until after they release.
In addition to all of this, the office has been accommodating with their schedules and multiple people have opened up times to meet with me and explain their positions. I had a limited idea of how the publishing process worked but hearing about all the small yet very important tasks that go into it is incredible. I talked with our line editors, copy editors, acquisition editors, publicists, cover designers, and a few others; each explained their jobs and gave me a glimpse of some of the things they do. Even though I’m pursuing a career in fiction, I was also able to talk to those who worked on the non-fiction side of things and hear about their jobs and how they differentiate from fiction which was incredibly interesting. Not only did I get to learn about the many different positions but I was given the chance to learn about people who helped create some of my favorite books which made those stories so much more special.
Aside from that, there are so many small things I love about the BHP office: we have potlucks every month that are opened with prayer, everyone is so welcoming and accommodating, and we hold conversations about books daily. It can’t get much better!
Funny story: I had one of the editors come to my office a few weeks ago and joke that I needed to start perspiring or frowning because I was giving people the wrong impression that work was fun. I told him that it would be very difficult to do that because I was having fun! 😉 Thinking about getting paid to read makes me so incredibly excited! I’m anxious for graduation in December so that I can use my degree towards a job I love.
The Final Countdown:
I’m writing this blog post with only three weeks left of my ten-week internship. It has gone by so fast, I wish I could slow time down. I’m not ready to leave because I feel like there is so much more for me to learn and to do—it’s so sad!
There is no way that I can fully capture how this experience has affected me, but I will assuredly state that this has been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I’m walking way with so much knowledge and appreciation of the publishing industry and the people who work every day to bring sublime stories into the world. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
If you have been considering an internship and turned to this blog post for advice, I highly recommend pursuing it. You will learn so much and have a taste of the company and industry before job searching. After talking to the staff at Bethany House, I discovered positions that I wouldn’t want to apply for and others that I would love to apply for (non-fiction is definitely not for me!).
A Simple Thank You:
There’s no possible way I’d be able to name everyone but I’d like to thank every single person who encouraged me, gave me advice, and helped me get this far: my family, friends, authors, and bloggers. I could not have done this without you!!! Also to everyone at Bethany House who has welcomed me and let me take time out of your day to shower me with information and advice. You are all so appreciated!