Tag Archives: internship

Dear Writer’s Digest– I miss you already.

Friday was my last day with Writer’s Digest. Talk about bittersweet. Sure, I’m thrilled not to have to commute an hour each way, but it was 100% worth every minute I spent backed up on the back roads of rural Ohio.

Everyone at that office is amazing. They were always looking to help, and offering me projects they thought would be beneficial for me, that would teach me something. They didn’t just have me doing grunt work or fetching coffee. They saw me as an asset to the team, willing to learn and eager to help. I would love to work for Writer’s Digest on a more permanent basis, but sadly, it seems my life is taking me elsewhere.

But I am really going to miss that place, those people, that job. I had the most adorable, cozy cubicle covered in post-it notes and old magazines. I had an excuse to talk to my favorite writers and was given the opportunity to interview some of the biggest names in the literary world.  I had access to every book, magazine and website I could ever want to reference.

And most of all, I got to write. I got to contribute. I will see my name in print. You can’t beat that.

Dear Writer’s Digest,

It’s only been a couple days and I already miss you. You were the best part of my year and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

Thank you :)

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Filed under Living the Dream

Internships and Goals

So today is my third day at my Writer’s Digest internship, Friday the 13th–go figure. So far, it’s been bumpy, but overall really fantastic.

Due to crazy restructuring by the parent company, I am probably one of the very few interns around this spring which is probably how they found it in their budget to offer me some sweet office swag (see picture).

I’ve already noticed things are a little different than my last F&W Media internship. Aside from the surprising turnover in staff, the way my internship functions is much more hands off. I think everyone is too busy to worry about the intern. I am given more freedom and am not overseen quite as much, but I am still very busy, may even busier. Not to mention the tasks I’m given are all in some way related to something that I’m actually interested in. Copy edits, website descriptions–everything I’m doing is awesome.

Of course the freedom and lack of direction from a specific supervisor comes with a change in approach to this internship. There was no first day conversation about what I hope to learn and there was no “here is what is expected of you/what you will get out of this” chat either. I am 100% alright with this because I came in prepared.

In my effort get the most out of this incredible opportunity, I will be doing the following three things which are great to think about for any internship or career opportunity.

1) Have set goals and discuss them with the boss. Although my boss is out of the office frequently, I have his phone number and email and I am encouraged to contact him. One thing I will make sure to do is discuss with him the things I want to get out of this internship–industry contacts, editing experience, etc.– and ask him who I should talk to and what he suggests I focus on to achieve these goals. Plus, this means he can start sending the more relevant projects my way and introduce me to the right people.

2) Never turn anything down. This is a hard one because I’ve already found myself fairly busy and people are always asking me if I have time to do this, or that. I always try to say yes, (unless I’m under a crazy deadline). I want to dip my hands in everything they do here and I want to work with everyone at least once. Am I busy because of it? Yes, but it also makes my day fly by. And I think I will be more rewarded for it in the end.

3) Talk to everyone about what they do. This internship is first and foremost a learning experience and I plan to treat it as one. I will do my best to grab lunch with everyone, stop by their office for a chat, or even just bribe them with a coffee in the morning. I want them to show me what they do and how they do it, introduce me to everyone they know in the industry, and in general just get on the inside track to how it all happens.

Internships are all different and some are more guided than others, but they all seem to be incredibly necessary when trying to break into this industry. So getting everything you can out of them is more important now than ever.

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Filed under Publishing Industry, Working Girl

What’s wrong with your manuscript?

I recently signed on for a part-time internship with a online publishing group where my primary duty is to read full manuscripts requested by editors and to offer my recommendation of whether they should acquire or pass on a submission. It has been a very enlightening experience thus far, giving me a rare look at what an imperfect novel looks like before it is accepted and goes on for polishing.

It’s an empowering, yet frightening feeling that I am what stands between an author and publication with this company. That’s a big deal, especially for someone like me who knows that someday I am going to be that author anxiously waiting for some intern to decide if what I’ve done is good enough or not.

So far I’ve found this to be a great learning experience. Between working for my school’s literary magazine and judging our annual novella contest, I’ve read a fair amount of inadequate work, and I like to think I can identify good writing when I see it. But the manuscripts I’m reading are full-length novels, already past round one of queries and partials, and now I’m picking out the good from the bad in a batch of submissions that has already had the first approval. It’s not as easy as finding someone who can’t string together a coherent sentence anymore, it’s more about looking at what makes for an effective novel: pacing, character development, plot development, etc.

And it’s a struggle! The worst is when you get really into the first part of a book–the writing is great, the action is gripping, the characters are interesting–and then everything just falls apart as you continue on. As a reader, I am really rooting for these manuscripts to work, but sometimes (often times) they just don’t.

What I’ve gained the most is a realization of how hard it is to write a good novel, one that really hits home ever necessary aspect of a novel. And more than that, it made me realize how much of a difference editing makes. A few times through with a red pen and some of these mediocre novels could be really fantastic, but where is the cut off between salvageable and not worth the effort?

So far I’ve noticed three things that stop me in my tracks when I’m reading that I thought may be of help for those in the submission process. If you’ve got a great query and keep getting requests for a full, but then get a pass, it might be one of the following.

1) Mediocre writing. As you’ve heard from plenty of agents, writing is first and foremost and if it’s not good at any point while I’m reading, then no amount of effort is really worth it to an editor to put into polishing your story because if they have to rewrite everything…well, you get the idea.

2) Pacing Issues. Most seem to have exciting starts, that’s probably why they were asked to submit a full. But the problems arise when there isn’t enough development. There needs to be plot complication, story depth, and character development, and it needs to build upon itself. Reading a full manuscript that doesn’t do this makes you really appreciate one that does. I just finished one manuscript that really had me, and then suddenly things ground to a halt and I didn’t even want to keep going–so I didn’t.

3) Excessive repetition of key plot points. The past few manuscripts I’ve read just kept throwing plot points and details in my face, but they were always the same, reminding me what needed to happen, what was at stake, asking the same questions, etc. It’s probably something that can be edited down, taken out, worked on. But the problem with that is if you take out all the repetition and filler, there isn’t much left and it’s not the editor’s job to fill in the gaping holes left by their red pen.

Granted, these are just my personal opinons and what I’m using as a guide when I’m reading. What it really boils down to, and what the woman I work for suggested to me was: “If you aren’t liking what you’re reading, stop. We don’t want you to read anything you aren’t enjoying.” Sadly, the publishing industry is based on my opinions and you have to impress A LOT of people to get anywhere, even the lowly interns just trying to finish grad school.

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Filed under Writing