Friday, March 17, 2017

A Season of Peaches: Behind the Scenes of a Publicity & Marketing Internship

When I think about what I learned as a Marketing and Publicity intern at Peachtree Publishers, the first thing that comes to mind is this: “I can now re-jacket 75 books an hour, 90 if the covers are pre-creased.”  Don’t be too impressed, my record is 120.

I know what you’re thinking: “A marketing intern replacing book jackets? That doesn’t sound like something you’d be doing in most publishing houses.”  And you’d be right, because Peachtree isn’t most publishing houses.  Unlike many internships with larger companies, those offered by Peachtree are thoughtfully designed to help interns learn as much about the industry as possible through hands-on experience—whether it’s re-jacketing books in their onsite warehouse or pitching a manuscript’s publicity plan to the senior editors.  It’s the perfect inside look for those interested in the industry, and the perfect first step for those who want to find their place within it.  So let’s take a look at what your responsibilities might be if you’re lucky enough to land a place on Peachtree’s marketing team.

Market Trend Reports

One of the most consistent assignments that you will receive as a marketing intern will be creating trend reports from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews.  A trend report is essentially a summary of the articles, market reports, and book reviews from these industry magazines.  It will be sent to the entire office, allowing each department to keep an eye on the market and adapt accordingly.  It’s also an opportunity for you glean advice from those who have spent years in the industry and get an idea of what the public is looking for in upcoming titles.

Publicity Mailings

While many of the internship duties can overlap (editorial interns write trend reports, too) you will have many assignments that are specific to your department and tap into your love of all things creative.  Mailings of all shapes and sizes are one of the biggest responsibilities you are given as a marketing intern.  When new titles come out each season, your job is to stuff envelopes with F&Gs (folded and gathered preliminary copies of the new titles) and their press releases to be sent to reviewers and other media outlets.  Sometimes Peachtree has a promotional book giveaway, so you will be gathering the necessary titles, and any mailing-specific merchandise, packing them into boxes and labeling them appropriately.

But my personal favorites are “Big Mouth” mailings.  If you have a new title that Peachtree is particularly excited about, they may ask you to put together a “Big Mouth” mailing for it.  This not only includes F&Gs of the new title with their appropriate press releases, but also charming activities and creative quirks to pique the recipients’ interest.  For King & Kayla, our new children’s mystery series, our “Big Mouth” mailing included a cipher wheel, a message in code for them to crack, and a magnifying glass so the recipients could read the teeny-tiny hint we provided.  And guess who helped write that code and cut out those wheels? That’s right, the marketing intern! Usually these kinds of mailings are reserved for lead titles, but they’re sometimes used to kick off a new series—as was the case for King & Kayla.

Copy Writing/Content Marketing

Now, if being crafty isn't exactly your cup of tea, never fear, because as a Publicity and Marketing intern, the main bulk of your work will be producing loads of written copy.  Some of the smaller assignments include writing a brief update for Peachtree’s Facebook wall, sending out a promotional tweet, or providing a caption for Instagram photos.  If your writing is effective and skillful in this role, you might be asked to write a round-up for the company blog.  In these pieces you will gather Peachtree titles which relate to the round-up’s chosen theme, whether it be Women’s History Month, Election Day, or March Madness, and write a brief synopsis of each title.  This blog will be published on Peachtree’s official site and posted on all of its social media platforms, so be sure to dot your “i’s,” cross your “t’s,” and double-check your “their/they’re/and there’s.”

When you aren’t helping write for social media, you could be poring over new titles to compose compelling interview questions for authors about their work, writing discussion guides for teachers, or crafting riveting reader’s reports full of great promotional ideas to help the team plan for the season.  This brings me to another unique aspect of Peachtree’s Marketing and Publicity internships: mock acquisitions.

Mock Acquisition Meetings

Mock Acquisition meetings happen twice a semester, and are a chance for the editorial department to bring new titles to the table for discussion and debate.  Your job, as a marketing intern, is to evaluate these titles pre-acquisition to see if they are marketable or not.  This includes running the manuscript through a fine-tooth comb of critical questions such as “Is this author marketable?”; “Does his or her message match with Peachtree’s voice?”; “Is there an interesting and pitch-able back story to the manuscript’s content?”  If the answer is no, then the manuscript might not be a fruitful investment for Peachtree, and the acquiring editor might consider rejecting it.

But if a title makes its way through the first round of acquisitions, it’s now your job to write a publicity plan for the title which will be presented at the second meeting later in the semester.  Publicity plans are how you would market the book long term, and contain a set of goals for the book and lists of overall marketing, publicity, and advertising strategies.  And don’t worry if you’ve never written one before.  Your supervisors are always open to answer questions and coach you through any difficulties you might have with your plans, or even other tasks they assign you to.  All you have to do is ask!

Lunch and Learns

Peachtree's willingness to educate publishing newcomers is quite evident in their monthly “Lunch-and-Learn” meetings which are open to both editorial and marketing interns.  This is an opportunity for you to listen to senior staff members from production, editorial, sales, marketing, and design detail the responsibilities of their position, the inner workings of their department, and how their department works with the rest of the company.  Not only that, but they are also open to audience participation, so be sure to brainstorm some job-specific questions beforehand.  You never know when you’ll get this kind of opportunity again. Take advantage of it!

Looking back on my time at Peachtree, I’m surprised by just how much this internship has given me.  I’ve learned the language of publishing and just how much pre-planning goes into each season.  I’ve gained a deeper understanding of market trends and forged relationships with those who are plunged neck-deep in the world of books.  

For you, dear reader, peach season could be just around the corner.  Why not apply and see?  Obviously, I’ve enjoyed the experience more than I can tell and am proud to have been a part of this plucky indie publisher.  And I’m sure you will too.

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