When I was an undergrad, I interned at a production company in Los Angeles. I answered phones, made sure the coffee pot was always full, battled daily with the copy machine, and was once awarded the great responsibility of driving to Saks Fifth Avenue to pick up not one, but three pairs of pants for Samuel L. Jackson. I mention this not to brag (although if you’re impressed, who could blame you?), but to demonstrate that what has really distinguished my experience as an intern at Browne & Miller Literary Associates is the fact that my summer here has been more rewarding, informative and valuable than I ever believed was possible in an internship.
This is not to say that I didn’t have administrative tasks at Browne & Miller. Of course, mailing letters, filing papers and doing some organizational work is all part of the job. But what most surprised me was just how much I learned this summer—and how willing everyone at Browne & Miller was to teach me.
I learned about current trends in fiction, about contracts and the complicated web of editors, agents and authors, about what makes a book work and how best to sell that book, and about all the ways the publishing industry has to adapt to the digital age. I learned a lot of this information through my own work and research but mainly because the agents at Browne & Miller—Danielle Egan-Miller, Joanna MacKenzie and Abby Saul—were all willing to sit down and talk with me. I read loads of query letters and developed a sense of the kinds of stories people are particularly interested in telling these days. I read manuscripts, wrote reports that included my main impressions and recommendations, and then received feedback from the agents about whether or not I was on the right track. I participated in editorial discussions—thinking and talking in great detail about manuscripts and the specific work that would be involved in making it the best book it could possibly be. It was challenging, often exhilarating, and always interesting work. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone considering a career in publishing and to those who would like to spend their summer exercising the reading, writing and analytical muscles they developed during their MAPH year.
A few words of advice for anyone considering the internship: First, you should like books. You will be reading, discussing and thinking about books for the entire summer, so it helps to be a person who not only gets excited about literature but who also has a few favorite genres. Second, you should have an open mind. As an intern, you will read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction projects (everything from contemporary romance to Christian fiction), so it’s important to be able to approach a work on its own terms. Even if you personally prefer highbrow fiction, I’ve learned that if you want to work in publishing, you also have to be able to think about the books people actually buy. So, if you feel you can think about all kinds of books without any kind of snobbery clouding your judgment, I think you’re on your way. Lastly, I liked it so much at Browne & Miller, I decided to stay—I’ll now be the Agency Assistant, so if you have any questions you can email me at molly [at] browneandmiller [dot] com. Book people, I hope to hear from you soon.