Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Interns Blog: Nancy Chen, Publicity and Rights & Permissions

My third week as a publicity intern at Cambridge has wrapped and it’s sad to think that I’m almost halfway done with the intern program; let’s breeze over that detail for now.

Working at Cambridge University Press has been such an amazing experience so far. From the delightful ladies I work with in publicity to the informal conversations with editors, managers, and reps in other departments, I’ve realized one key feature that links them all—a genuine desire to share their experiences in academic publishing and help interns understand how their specific department contributes to the press. It’s the ideal environment for any intern these days in NYC and I can confidently say I leave the office each day with at least one new discovery about academic publishing.

I’ve previously worked as a publicity intern at Grove/Atlantic, Inc. before entering Cambridge this summer so some of my responsibilities are familiar.

I still:

  • Send out copies of Cambridge titles to people who wish to review them. (only now, I don’t have to physically mail the book out myself since Cambridge has a West Nyack warehouse)
  • Prepare galley mailings for books slated for release in the coming months. (I’ve sent out The Quest for Mental Health and Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust and both mailings totaled fewer books than the mass galley mailings I completed as a trade publicity intern.)
  • Write e-mail book pitches to media contacts for possible review. (I’ve written and sent 2 e-mail pitch blasts out so far. The exciting part comes when I get replies from editors and reviewers, requesting the book, which means they bought my e-mail pitch! This is a succinct form of writing I’m still trying to improve after many years of writing term papers so it always helps when a pitch achieves its purpose.)
  • Research for new potential media contacts and update the publicity database. (This lets me get a better idea of what types of books Cambridge publishes that might interest the mainstream media and how Frances & Nicole publicize their assigned titles.)

I also get the opportunity to contribute to title-specific projects that have been both challenging, but fun as well. Recently, I completed a Reader’s Guide for Eruptions that Shook the World (our July Book Club pick) which turned out to be a great assignment for 2 reasons:

  1. I picked up a book I admittedly wouldn’t on my own. To my surprise, it overlapped a bit with my studies in Classics. I certainly didn’t know there was a “Pompeii of the Americas” in El Salvador due to the Ilopango eruption.
  2. I received good constructive criticism from Nicole that I can now use for my next reader’s guide.

It’s been a rewarding 3 weeks and I haven’t even mentioned my first encounter with copyright & permissions. In addition to publicity, I also work with the rights & permissions manager, Marc, who is a patient teacher as I wade through these uncharted seas (of journals). It will be interesting to see how book copyrights work once I finish up with the journals.

And now, as the ancient Romans might say,

Cras multos discam, sed hodie, valete omnes!

(Tomorrow I will learn much more, but today, goodbye everyone!)

Nancy Chen is the publicity and rights & permissions intern for Cambridge University Press’ College Sales and Marketing group.

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