Friday, April 18, 2008

Unique Publishing Internship Breaks the Mold

An avid reader and book lover for most of his life, Patrick Tucker (Trinity College, '08) always wanted to get an insider's glimpse of the publishing industry. He just never imagined it would happen through an author's eyes, and in such an unusual (and horrifying) way.

Tucker is the first to enroll in a unique internship program co-sponsored by author Nate Kenyon and Dorchester Publishing, the oldest independent mass-market publisher in the US. It is believed to be the first such program where the intern is paired directly with the author, rather than the publisher, to work on the marketing and launch of a genre novel. Kenyon's first horror novel, Bloodstone, a Bram Stoker Award Finalist in hardcover, will be released in paperback by Dorchester imprint Leisure Books in May.

"The idea came when I started thinking about what I would have really loved to do, when I was in college," Kenyon, who is based in Boston, said. "There are opportunities to work at publishing houses and experience the process from that perspective. But what seemed far more interesting to me was the process from the writer's point of view, from acceptance to editing to the packaging and marketing of their novel."

The traditional model of a writer delivering a manuscript, then sitting back and watching the publisher package and sell it, is changing, Kenyon said. Publishers now expect authors to be much more involved on the marketing end, and author involvement is often vital to a book's success in the marketplace. The timing seemed right for the idea, and Kenyon was a good one to help launch it, with his own extensive marketing and communications background. When he approached Dorchester, they immediately saw the possibilities.

"We loved it," said Dorchester publicist Erin Galloway. "We always encourage our authors to get involved with publicity, and we are contacted pretty frequently by students looking for more experience in the publishing world, but we can't accommodate them all. This seemed like a great way to offer something pretty unique."

But there were challenges to the new internship from the beginning. One of them was that there would be no real office space for the intern to go to during the day. Kenyon and Tucker keep in close contact by email and phone, trading ideas daily.

"We're swiftly becoming a real team," Kenyon said. "It's great."

As for Tucker, he is impressed by the one-on-one experience he's getting with a writer, something not found in most traditionally structured internship programs. So far, he has come up with a survey on the reading habits of young adults, which he has distributed to classmates and online, and he's getting some interesting results that will help shape their approach. He's started working on a S.W.O.T. analysis, and he and Kenyon have fine-tuned the marketing plan for the novel together. As the book launch date approaches, he will be involved in helping to schedule events and will go to New York to meet with Dorchester executives in their offices.

"I love how the internship is constantly making me think about the broad scope of marketing while learning the fundamental skills as well," Tucker says. "There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes in this business, and I feel like I have a backstage pass to where the action is."

Nate Kenyon's website:

Dorchester Publishing website:

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