What's it like to be an intern for a publishing house? Joy gives us a behind the scenes look at her time at Corella Press.
Hello, and thank you so much for having me on this wonderful blog! My name is Joy and I'm an English Literature and History major at the University of Queensland.
Today I would love to share a little of my experience as a publishing intern, and what I learned throughout this unique and exciting, industry-focused journey. I also hope it inspires you to go and grab yourself copies of the new releases from Corella Press!
At the beginning of this year, as I was considering my academic journey so far and where I wanted it to go from there, I knew I wanted to get some real-life industry work experience in the arts and literature, which would also be creative and innovative and outside the classroom scene (much as I truly love it). I had not heard anything about Corella Press until I was contacted by one of my university academics, Dr. Kim Wilkins, inviting me to join as an intern for the semester. Being committed to developing my creative writing and professional editing skills, the prospect of getting training in a publishing organisation had a strong appeal, especially as it was a UQ not-for-profit small press “committed to making beautiful, collectable editions of recovered Australian nineteenth-century crime and mystery stories”.
It was the bringing together of both my academic interests with the creative areas I was most passionate about. I became more thrilled by the opportunity of being trained with the team at Corella Press, as well as interning and doing research at AustLit for the duration of my internship (AustLit is a literary bibliographic and research organisation at the University of Queensland).
My first supervisor meeting, where I first met with Ms. Kerry Kilner, Dr. Catriona Mills (of AustLit) and Ms. Meg Vann (of Corella Press), helped me appreciate the process of cross-organisational collaboration and partnership on a project. While this was at times a time-management struggle for me during my internship, I observed and appreciated the professional respect and consideration shown between AustLit and Corella staff on this project, based on a mutual love for uncovering great authors and literary treasures of the past. This conversation about nineteenth-century feminist women writers inspired me in investigating these unknown dynamic female authors but I didn’t know how I was going to do that.
On my first day at the office, I gained fundamental research skills, such as using the “Advance Search” on the AustLit database and on the National Library of Australia’s Trove. It was fulfilling to gain the skills to do more in-depth research, and learn to dig-up articles, stories, family news and history in digitised Australian newspapers. There is a vast array and depth of material from Australia's literary past, and it is just waiting to be uncovered—or as I like to say it fancily, unearthed!
In the first few weeks of my internship, I learned about how the AustLit website functions and observed the intensive bibliographic, research and administration tasks the AustLit team do on a regular basis. Learning the basic principles of the expression and manifestation of a work (FBR) gave me insight into the importance of accurate bibliographic record-keeping and critical analysis of data. This is essential both for preserving and uncovering Australia’s literary traditions past and present in their diversity and complexity. An example of a time when I felt enabled as a contributor to this recording and preserving process was when I found on Trove the digitised stories and articles published by Leontine Cooper under her nom de plume Onyx and added external links to all of the AustLit entries of Onyx’s works connecting them to Trove.
Similarly, there was a special feeling in contributing to the bibliographic database when I was able to discover a new unrecorded story for our Corella Press by author, Jeannie Lockett, called “An Awfully Sudden Death”, and added it as an entry in the author’s works page.
My experience as an intern at Corella Press was dynamic but also different from my normal academic work and studies. Our team met up in weekly meetings held on Thursday from 2:30-5pm led by our supervisor Meg Vann, where we broke down our production schedule systematically over thirteen weeks to achieve our goal of transforming a nineteenth century Australian piece of fiction into a beautiful collectable book.
I initially struggled to connect my work at AustLit with the weekly responsibilities and tasks required at Corella Press. This was largely due to the academic vs. creative and industry-focused approach each role required. However, eventually I was able to separate the roles in my mind, and gained insights in my research that aided me in working on both projects. This enhanced my ability to multi-task and take on responsibility as a researcher for the Corella team, and writing the first draft of Jeannie Lockett’s biography.
I was passionate as an AustLit intern at Corella Press to bring my research skills to the role as an editor and team member, do my best, and prove my ability as a creative industry professional.
The Corella Press meetings each week differed in focus, depending on the work required weekly for the project, with the aim of developing our practical skills and work ethic. Some weeks our focus was on learning how to edit and proofread, which we then had to apply in tasks across the semester through several rounds of editing The Millwood Mystery by Jeannie Lockett (the second book we are launching this year!). Through this hands-on process I gained confidence in my ability to transcribe, edit and proofread manuscripts, finding it a particularly rewarding experience.
In week 4, we learned the rhetoric of an acquisitions meeting within a bigger publishing house, before developing our own acquisitions proposal that we delivered to the Acting Director, Dr. Richard Newsome.
This gave me insight into the publishing technicalities and also our role in making authors of the past relevant and engaging for modern readers today. This included the process of identifying the genre of our manuscript and pitching it for a reading audience to Dr Newsome.
One of the things I found beneficial for my development at Corella Press was the opportunity to hear and connect with professionals from Australia’s wider publishing industry, with guest speakers from IngramSpark, AustLit and UQ Press.
A particular instance that had an impact on me was in week nine when Sally Matthews from the Marketing Team at UQ Press came and shared with us the work involved in marketing and promoting a new release, with consideration to sales, meeting the vision of the organisation and supporting their authors. She used a book of poetry, The Lost Arab by Omar Sakr, as a case study of the process involved in employing social media and contacting influencers and reviewers to get the book in the hands of the reading public. Hearing her speak of her professional journey and her work in UQP’s marketing team positively shaped my attitude about the possibilities I could pursue in publishing. Recognising in myself a passion for this aspect of the industry, I was able to bring my personal love of blogging to the team with the idea of hosting a blogtour launch ahead of our Corella Press book-release—so hey pursue your hobbies, guys!
Having Meg approve and assign to me this task of co-organising the blog-tour with the wonderful Eva encouraged me to take on responsibility in my team and feel empowered as a young industry professional.
Truthfully, my professional practice at AustLit and Corella Press has been transformative in helping me develop my industry skills and confidence as a young writer and publisher in training. It has provided me with experience to apply my academic and theoretical knowledge into practical real-world outcomes as a researcher, editor and writer in the related industries.
I feel privileged alongside my fellow interns to have been involved in the cultural contribution of AustLit as a key information resource and record of Australia’s publishing history, and be a part of the legacy of Corella Press in preserving and uncovering unique voices from Australia’s literary past. I am beyond thrilled to see these two nineteenth-century works by some genuinely marvellous Australian female writers get relived and loved by a new generation of readers.
Joy is a third-year UQ student majoring in English Literature and History. She is thrilled, as a Corella Press intern, to see the works of nineteenth-century Aussie female writers like Mary Helena Fortune and Jeannie Lockett, see the light of day again and be read by passionate readers like herself. Joy blogs at www.joy-live4jesus.blogspot.com
The books the interns were working on are:
Bridget's Locket and Other Mysteries
The Millwood Mystery
These beautiful collectable books can be purchased from Avid Reader (https://avidreader.com.au/), as well as from the Corella Press site from Friday 30th August, (https://www.austlit.edu.au/