The Columns

Interns at Work: Sara Korash-Schiff ’15 Hachette Book Group, Nashville, TN

— by on September 5th, 2016

Sara Korash-Schiff '15

“I was given the opportunity to speak with head editors who told me what to expect as a projected career path.”

How did you learn about this internship?

Hachette Book Group has a corporate website with job postings for all of their American offices. I had applied for a few of their New York internships during the school year and hadn’t heard back yet, so in the end of May I went on the website to check the status of my other applications and came across a new posting for an intern position in Nashville.

What gave you the edge in landing this internship?

After talking to the editor who read my resume and eventually hired me, I found out a couple of the key reasons I was hired. To begin with, she told me she really connected with my cover letter and the emotional connection I’ve had with literature my entire life. She also told me that the marketing and publicity department told her to find an intern with impeccable AP style, which–thanks to my journalism & mass communications major–really gave me an edge in the application process. Finally, timing actually had a lot to do with me landing my internship. Though I didn’t know this when applying for the position, an editor told me that book publishing positions can get 800+ resume submissions, and a lot of the time human resource departments will only look at the first 50 to 100 applications submitted (because they simply don’t have the time to look at all of them). Luckily, I submitted my resume and application within hours of the job being posted, so I was on the top of the pile. You’ve got to love serendipity!

Describe your daily duties.

Because I was the only intern for the Hachette Nashville office, I got experience in every department, not just one department like most publishing interns. Because of this, my daily duties changed from day to day. On Mondays I worked with the editorial team, which means I sat in on weekly editorial board meetings, where we discussed new manuscripts literary editors had sent to our editors, and monthly acquisitions meetings, where we decided what books the company wanted to bid on to acquire. Along with attending these meetings, I also read manuscript submissions, wrote reader’s reports suggesting either passing or bidding on book proposals, and did a lot of work organizing our backlist and frontlist titles. On Tuesdays I worked with the marketing and publicity departments and became best friends with UPS and a publicity website called Cision. In this department, I compiled lists of celebrities and bloggers to send advanced reader’s copies of books to and then sent out copies to them. I also wrote “big mouth” letters, informing celebrities about books they might be interested in, to people like Reba McEntire and Tim Tebow, which was pretty awesome. Along with this work, I also attended weekly marketing meetings, where we talked to the New York office via video conference call. My roles in the art department and sales department were slightly less involved, as I mostly sat in on meetings discussing book covers for the art department and sat in on meetings discussing projected and actual sales for our titles.

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

Definitely the books! Our office had rows upon rows of bookshelves throughout it, including the illustrious “take shelf,” which was stocked weekly with Hachette books that had not been released (advanced reader’s copies or galleys). One of my main perks this summer was that I got to take home whatever books I wanted off of this shelf, and because I was responsible for organizing it every week, I usually got the first look at what new books we had received.

How did you like living in the city where the internship was located?

Nashville was more than I could have ever hoped for in a city. There was never a dull moment or a time that I regretted moving there for the summer. I only knew a little bit about Nashville before I arrived, mostly from fellow students who live in the area and from my country music knowledge, but after only a few days there I found out how alive and growing it is. The music scene was remarkable, with a different performer playing free shows every night and quite frequently, major performers playing massive shows. I had the opportunity to see Miley Cyrus, a Talking Heads cover band, and many others. I even went to the Grand Ole Opry. Aside from music, the city had so much more to offer. My first 4th of July away from home was this summer and I spent it with a fellow University Singers member, watching the second longest firework shows in the country. It was astonishing. The only complaint I had was the heat, because believe me it got HOT!

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

My summer internship provided me with many skills that will be highly useful for my future career pursuits. I learned how to use many of the publishing programs that I will hopefully need to use in the future, Nielson BookScan and Cision just to name a few. This summer vastly improved my reader’s report writing skills and confidence in major company meetings. I was also given the opportunity to speak with head editors who told me what to expect as a projected career path, which was quite helpful (practically speaking). Now I have insight into how long I will probably have to work in an entry level publishing position before I work my way up. I also know what to expect financially right out of school. But more importantly, this summer taught me to be open to different experiences. I had always thought I would intern in New York or Boston, so my summer was a refreshing change of plans that showed me different isn’t always bad!

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

Definitely do it, and don’t give up if the application process is overwhelming! I know from experience that applying for publishing jobs is shot in the dark, but just keep applying and you will eventually find a publisher who values your passion for literature. Also, make sure you get some sort of editorial experience at W&L. There are so many great opportunities to get editing experience, from the journalism department, to Shenandoah and any other of the numerous student publications on this campus, and any of these will look amazing on your resume. Finally, keep reading everything you can get your hands on, especially books from the frontlists of backlists of the publishing companies you’re applying to. The people interviewing you will want to know that you are knowledgeable about the types of books they are publishing, so they know that you are really dedicated.

Will you pursue a career in this field after graduation?

I’m definitely still intending to pursue a career in publishing, though my timeline has changed a little since my internship. I originally thought I was going to move to New York, Boston, or San Francisco immediately after graduation to work in an editorial department at a publishing house, but this has changed slightly. I’m now considering attending an MFA creative writing program before starting my career in publishing.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Wonderland!