Piecing Together my Interests at Cornell University Press

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Most students majoring in English and writing have a long list of books that they’ve read or are gearing up to read, typically toting around a few in their backpacks. I, however, was never that person—I enjoy reading but, to me, reading is only one piece of a book’s interest. Ever since I was really little, I was fascinated by the whole book… how everything fits together. This is what got me interested in the publishing industry.

In my position as a marketing intern at Cornell University Press, I’m able to assist in putting together integral parts of novels, whether that be the table of contents page, the author bio, the blurbs, or the text summary on the back cover. Alongside this work, being able to sit in on all-staff meetings to discuss books about to be published is something I have really valued during my time at CUP. Hearing different peoples’ opinions on things that seem as trivial as the price of a book has proven to not be trivial at all. I have learned how to adjust my vocabulary to understand how and why certain books will sell better, and that has aided me in understanding much more about the publishing process as a whole. These all-staff meetings are also useful because of the atmosphere that I’m able to observe. Seeing all of the staff members in one place is a great way to understand how the press is run.

I, however, was never that person—I enjoy reading but, to me, reading is only one piece of a book’s interest.

I have been introduced to everyone in the marketing department by now and had a good time learning about everyone’s specific jobs, but because of the way that any workplace is set up, there’s a division between departments. This, therefore, is why it’s interesting to see everyone, in all of the departments, in one place discussing the same topic. During the time that I was introduced to everyone on the marketing team, I really appreciated the number of people who asked about my interest in the press and publishing in general—it made me feel more welcome and included. I also appreciated how helpful everyone was when I mentioned my interests in other fields. Being an artist, I have always had an interest in cover design. As a kid, I would write my own children’s books, topped off with their own colored-pencil pictures. A part of this has always stuck with me, and while I would like to write children’s books in the future, I know that a lot of presses don’t focus on them, and therefore I have looked for the next best thing, which is cover design. More than one person on the marketing team volunteered to set me up with people on the design team in order to let me learn more and ask the questions that I have. The same happened when I brought up my interest in the more direct publishing side of the press.

All in all, my time at the press has been a perfect mix of working on tasks individually and communicating with others. The combination of these has led me to a great deal of learning that is specialized to this site, and has proven to me that this is something I would like to pursue post-grad.

Sidney North is a writing major at Ithaca College graduating in May 2020. She has minors in English and studio art, and enjoys finding ways to implement those into her writing endeavors.

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