Daniel Brount is a Ball State senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in professional writing and emerging media. He will graduate in May 2016 and is pursuing a career in publishing. When not spending time with friends and family, he writes his own prose, reads books for his book review website, and tries to keep up with more TV shows than is humanly possible.
You interned at DAW Books and The Rights Factory. What did you do for each and how did their responsibilities differ? Did each teach you different skills?
DAW Books is a science fiction and fantasy publisher, and The Rights Factory is a literary agency. So the main difference was that each involved different stages in publishing.
At DAW, I spent a lot of time reading manuscripts from the slush pile. If I passed on a manuscript, I wrote and sent the rejections. If I thought a manuscript was a good fit for DAW, I wrote a reader’s report and sent it on to other DAW employees to evaluate. I also read some agent solicited manuscripts, and I wrote reader’s reports for those as well. Besides that, I dealt with publicity information for our current books and authors, such as compiling book reviews. I also wrote title information sheets (these include everything from summaries to selling points to quotes) for several books, and I did a little bit of social media, book alphabetizing, copy editing, and whatever else was needed. Since DAW is a small imprint, I was able to work with employees in several areas of the publishing process. I learned about editorial, production, and contracts. Before I hadn’t really considered working in any areas besides editorial. Now I know that I’d be happy to work in any of these departments. And while DAW is a smaller imprint, it is part of Penguin Random House, so I got to work in a building owned by one of the Big Five publishers. This also meant there were take shelves of free books everywhere. Yeah, you read that right. Free books! Almost every day when I left work, my bag had a couple new books in it.
(Thanks to all my internships, I got more than 120 free books by the end of the semester, some of which still haven’t even been released.)
While my work with DAW dealt specifically with science fiction and fantasy books, my work at The Rights Factory was more varied in genre. I worked with young adult books, memoirs, a graphic novel, and much more. I read and edited our clients’ manuscripts, helped create book proposals and pitches, and compiled submissions lists. Although my editing on manuscripts wasn’t major, I loved having a voice and hearing that clients appreciated my suggestions. My work on book proposals varied. Sometimes I just helped with some minor copy editing. In one case, I used my graphic design skills to better present information. As for pitches, I had never written one, so at first, I mainly copy edited them. But by the end of the semester, I was able to write a pitch from scratch. Throughout the semester, I worked on several submissions lists, which I enjoyed simply for the fact that I was researching and learning about so many different editors and publishing houses. I enjoyed trying to find out which editors would like which books. All in all, just helping our clients’ books find homes was an incredible experience for me.
These two internships both involved a different stage in the publishing industry, but, of course, there was a lot of crossover. It was interesting for me to write a pitch for The Rights Factory one day, only to read pitches at DAW the next. Seeing things from two different angles helped me sharpen my skills and develop a more intimate understanding of the industry.
I actually ended up having another brief internship with Arthur Fournier Fine & Rare, an independent rare book dealer. I helped Arthur run a booth at the Brooklyn Books, Art, Photos and Design Expo, and I also helped him with his exhibit at MoMA PS1’s NY Art Book Fair. NYAP provided Arthur with interns in the past, and he needed help with the fair and expo, so he asked if NYAP had anyone available. The rare/art book industry is something I never really knew about, so it was eye opening to get an inside look. One major lesson I learned while in NYAP was to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, and I’m extremely happy I took this one.
How did you land these internships?
The New York Arts Program coordinated every aspect of the internships. I applied for the program, and, once I got in, they helped me find places to work. John Reed, the writing and publishing adviser, talked to me about my interests, and he suggested several potential places to work. Out of that list, I felt like DAW Books and the literary agent Natalie Kimber at The Rights Factory were the best fits. John got me in contact with both places, so I sent in a cover letter and my resumé. Then I had an interview with each, and before I knew it, I was flying out to NYC to start working.
How cool was New York City?
I can’t begin to describe how quickly and how deeply I fell in love with New York City. During my time there, I made friendships that will last a lifetime and had more unbelievable experiences than I can count. I loved being in a place that was lively 24/7. I saw several Broadway shows. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, and book expos. I ate a lot of delicious food. I spent a ton of money on food that my Midwestern mind thought was way too expensive. (Some of it was cheap though, I took advantage of Manhattan’s many $1 pizza places).
I got to see a lot of celebrities, too. James Franco shot a TV pilot minutes away from the NYAP house. Thanks to one of my friend’s internships, I saw a dress rehearsal of Saturday Night Live. Thanks to another friend’s internship, I got a free VIP ticket to see a Halsey concert. One day when I was eating lunch in Chelsea Market, I made room at my table for two strangers to eat — and then I realized the stranger sitting next to me was Justin Long. I stood outside after Broadway shows waiting for performers like Jennifer Hudson and Andy Mientus to sign my Playbills. I volunteered at an event for the Ally Coalition that raised money for LGBTQ homeless youth in NYC, and while at the event, I saw Sara Bareilles perform and accidentally photobombed Fred Armisen.
And, of course, I did a ton of touristy things: I visited the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, and Times Square. Nothing makes you feel more like a New Yorker than when you walk through Times Square and realize that you want to get out of there as soon as possible to escape all the eye-roll-worthy tourists. Over the semester, NYC became a home to me, and I can’t wait to go back.
Internships are a great opportunity for English majors, but for students wanting to go into publishing, it can often be hard to get a foot in the door. What can an experience like the NYAP do for these students?
Before NYAP, I had no clue how I was going to get into publishing. But NYAP got my foot in the door. Through my internships, I’ve gained so many connections and mentors. I have references within the industry now, and those connections have given me a wealth of invaluable advice. And it certainly helps to have a publisher and a literary agency on my resumé. For me, NYAP was all about building a foundation. That foundation is going to make it so much easier moving forward.
But, even more important than the references and the impact on my resume, NYAP gave me a wealth of self-assurance that I didn’t have before. I can now say that I know I love working in this industry, and I can say that I know what it’s like to be part of it. Whether or not you love the internships you have as part of NYAP, the experience will help you define your career. If I had disliked my internships, it still would’ve been a valuable and essential experience for me because I would’ve known that a job in publishing might not have been what I wanted. But it is what I want, and, thanks to this program, I’m one step closer to having the career that I want.