As my senior year approached, I started to feel the after-college strain. I looked around and saw my friends in accounting and telecommunications snagging jobs and internships like free t-shirts at a concert. Meanwhile, I was sitting in the library for hours on end, sending out application after application to various publishing companies, newspapers and magazines.

The opportunities into which I was looking were primarily in New York, Boston and Washington D.C. I thought that if I aimed high I’d be rewarded for trying. Needless to say, I only heard back from one or two less-than-promising places that were going to cost me an arm and a leg just to pursue. I decided to turn elsewhere.

One day I had a conversation with Professor Todd McKinney of the English Department about my future. Knowing that I was from the Louisville area, he mentioned a fantastic non-profit literary press in Louisville called Sarabande Books. For this I was very grateful. I looked into works they’d published, read through their website and two days later sent in my resume.

Two months later I received an email from Sarah Gorham of Sarabande and went in for an interview for an internship in February. I couldn’t have been happier. For the past 3 years I’d been taking on various opportunities and they’d finally paid off.

During my interview I felt surprisingly comfortable. Sarabande’s offices smelled of good coffee and freshly printed pages. The walls were adorned with interesting pieces of art and book shelves housing numerous copies of their published works just waiting to be read. I was at home.

The interview was more like a book club meeting amongst friends; we spoke about pieces we love and hate, writers we admire and what we’d been reading as of late. They showed special interest in my work for my English 435 blogging class as well as a volunteering gig I did last year with Greenhouse Poetry, teaching under-privileged youth aspects of effective writing.

One thing that worried me was that I rarely, if ever, write poetry. Although I love to read it when I’m not buried in non-fiction, I just rarely pick up books of poetry. I think that I was able to illustrate to them, however, that I feel I can write/read anything and everything given the right motivation.

Starting the day after Labor Day, I’ll be interning with Sarabande and I can’t express how excited I am about it. Although it is unpaid, it is only 20 hours a week so I plan on substitute teaching on my free days around Floyd and Clark County Indiana.

Here is a list of my intern responsibilities, in case anyone is thinking of applying for an internship with Sarabande (they accept applications year-round) or any other literary press for that matter:

• answering phones and general e-mail
• responding to guideline requests
• Helping with mailing of galleys and review copies
• Reading and responding to unsolicited manuscripts
• Personalizing rejection letters
• Proofing of manuscripts and publicity materials
• Data-basing
• Assembling press kits for marketing director
• Errand-running to the post office, Kinko’s, etc.
• Packing up books to customers or for prize entries
• Filing in author binders
• Offering input on artwork for book covers
• Helping with grant research
• Attending monthly staff meetings
• Assisting with special marketing initiatives
• Assisting with local publicity initiatives
• Opportunity to write an article for newspaper or local paper
• Opportunity to meet with and ask questions of all staff
• Garnering radio interviews for authors
• Following production process for manuscript acceptance to finished book
• May be involved in special projects such as search engine research, special fundraising events, donor research, and locating new audiences for books.

I am attending commencement in May and finishing up my last two classes this summer, after which I’ll head back down to lovely Louisville. I encourage anyone interested in an internship to apply to Sarabande because they’re not only a fantastic non-profit but also a very warm and welcoming group of professionals.

Sarabande Books Website
Sarabande Blog: Endpapers

-Evan Himelick