Internship Days 7 and 8

I’m a bit behind on my blogging for last week, but I promise you I wasn’t withholding any juicy details. Basically, I finished up the latest PR tasks my boss wanted me to perform while also working more on the blog tour that I mentioned last time.

Working on the blog tour basically consisted of creating a promotional flyer for the tour and sending out emails to bloggers that outlined its specifics. This was a tad tricky sometimes because we were still working out the details (the company has never done a tour before). Additionally, we didn’t know exactly what we wanted the bloggers to write. They all had to write about the same book, but they needed to approach their subject matter from different angles. Together, my boss and I brainstormed seven different ideas for the seven different bloggers. On top of that, we also brainstormed a Twitter campaign that made use of one of the book’s themes–still very tentative, but cool nevertheless!

So that was last week. This week–my last week in London–has been completely uneventful internship-wise, aside from my boss telling me yesterday that he couldn’t come in due to *another* tube strike. From my American (United-Statesian) perspective, these strikes are very peculiar to me. I feel as if there is threat of a strike every week! Tomorrow there is another strike scheduled, but thankfully it will be carried out after my internship hours.

A large amount of my internship hours consists of reading since I would not be able to help out at the office without sufficient knowledge of the material we are working on. Last week, I took my newest reading material to Queen Mary’s Garden in Regent’s Park. This place was a reader’s paradise–fountains, fragrant roses, overhanging flowers over quaint wooden benches, peace and quiet….it was just perfect. I’m attaching a picture below!

Though I love that reading is a part of my internship, sometimes I wished that I had worked at the office more and read less. My flatmates seemed to get a lot more hands-on experience than I did. Though, I do realize it would have been more difficult to complete my internship tasks without actually reading the books they were based around.

My next blog entry will be my last! See you then-

Queen Mary's Garden--a reader's paradise
Queen Mary’s Garden–a reader’s paradise

Internship days 5 and 6–plus a book launch

Hey everyone! The internship was considerably more interesting this week. Highlights include a new blogging task, further social media interaction, and attending a book launch!

I went into the internship on Monday secretly praying I wouldn’t be assigned more of the same basic PR tasks I’d undertaken the week before (not that I mind, but I want as diverse an experience as I can get!). Thankfully, my prayers were answered. Instead, my boss informed me that I would be helping him set up the company’s first “blog tour” for our latest book.  Apparently, other publishing companies often do these with trusted reviewers for PR purposes.

Basically, a “blog tour” is when bloggers feature the same book throughout their blogs in succession. After the first blog is posted, the blogger “tags” the second blogger through some public social media display (i.e.–“hey @Blogger2, anxiously waiting for your review of Author’s #TheBook”) and so on–kind of like passing on the baton in running. The result is a great amount of coverage for the books and the bloggers. A win-win.

So my boss asked me to email these trusted bloggers about joining the blog tour for our latest book release. He had many specifications about how the email should be. “Make sure you let them know we haven’t done this before, but not that we don’t know what we’re doing.” “This blogger will do it, so don’t give her too much information she doesn’t need.” “Sound needy, but don’t beg.”

In the end, I crafted an email I thought was pretty darn perfect. “It’ll do,” he tells me. Well, you can’t win them all. When I asked him what I could do to make the email better, he responded, “It’s just not what I would’ve written. I would’ve been more conversational, but it does the job fine.” For someone who has learned that in order to be professional , you must be “polite and CONCISE”, this was a very different answer than what I was expecting. Later, I would learn that British business is far more conversational in tone than American business. In fact, a fellow study abroad classmate described British business deals in which two parties would talk about their families for the first 20 minutes before delving into anything professional. I wonder if this email was along the same line. However, I am not overly familiar with business settings, so I could be overlooking something.

On Wednesday, much of the same thing happened with the added addition of creating a new kind of PR document also intended to be distributed to booksellers. However, this document had eight of our books listed, meaning the descriptions were shorter (or basically 5-word sentences).

On Thursday, I went to my first book launch in celebration of the company’s newest published book. It was in a small, occultish little shop near London University, and the place was PACKED. I brought along my friend Alyssa for company, a fellow publishing intern working at another business. We stood around drinking wine and generally keeping to ourselves, occasionally talking to another guest or petting the shop dog.

Eventually my boss spoke on the author’s behalf using his trademark dry humor, and then the author spoke on behalf of all present. Her speech was very moving. One line I remember in particular (and I’m probably butchering it here):”Without hope, there is no change.”–a theme that resonated throughout the novel we had all gathered there in support of.

I left the shop with Alyssa with my own book copy signed and a greater appreciation for the great amount of work it takes to publish a single manuscript.  I truly hope I have the opportunity to attend another launch before I leave the country!

My internship's adorable neighborhood
My internship’s adorable neighborhood

Internship Day 4

Today was a good day at the ol’ internship, but I’m afraid to say nothing particularly interesting happened. I created some more PR documents to advertise our novels to bookshops and bloggers. Some had more material than others, which certainly kept things interesting design-wise. While I might struggle to find a review/quote on a lesser-known novel, a more popular novel may have dozens to choose from. Because of this and other factors, it was sometimes difficult to make these PR documents cohesive.

My boss and I developed an easier rapport today which was certainly a relief. He told me how important it is for publishers to follow-up on blog reviews, book give-a-aways, signings, etc. Unsurprisingly, social media plays an important role in the PR of businesses now–I sent my first tweet to a book reviewer today from the publishing company. I almost felt like fraud for doing so since I’m only the unpaid intern.

On a different note–I really love my internship’s surrounding area. It’s in a very European neighborhood which means everything is quaint and cozy. The hubbub of London–just a block or two down–is forgotten among lush greenery, Victorian-style houses, and the occasional smart-car. I’ll have to take a picture to really show you what I mean, unless you’re European yourself, and then you’ll probably know exactly what I mean. Not to make generalizations or anything. But when I leave work with my boss, we take this short path through the trees with flowers dripping on us from overhead–and he makes nothing of it! You don’t see those casually beautiful things in America–or perhaps I’m just not looking in the right places.

Unless something unexpected happens, my next blog entry won’t be until Monday.

A neighborhood kind-of a little-bit not-really like my internship site's
A neighborhood kind-of a little-bit not-really like my internship site’s

See you all then-

Internship Day 3

Hi everyone! Sorry I didn’t hold up to my promise to write about the book I read for the internship. After some consideration, I chose not to for the following reasons:

1- The book is unpublished, and I suppose I should PROBABLY get permission from my boss before I write about it publicly.

2- As a professional procrastinator, I didn’t start reading it until the last minute (the day before…). I finished it though, and isn’t that what matters? Say yes.

Instead, you’ll get to hear all about internship day number 3, which was yesterday.

The day before internship day number 3 I had lost my Oyster card, A.K.A. my pass to basically all feasible travel options in London, so I left early for work in the morning to buy a ticket–something I didn’t know much about. Because of this mishap, I emailed my boss explaining that I might be a little late (no more than 30 minutes).

Fortunately, I was only about ten minutes late, and I’m not sure if my boss even noticed. During the interview he told me he was flexible, which I thought was interesting until I realized how often the tube is delayed. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation. Therefore, it’s also possible he just ignored my lateness.

Anyway, as I sat down at the desk adjacent from his, he told me he wanted two other PR documents for two more books. Additionally, he was leaving early, which meant I was leaving early. I wasn’t expected to finish the PR documents before I left.

Now, I suppose most unpaid interns would’ve thought, “Yay! An unexpected day off! Let me hop on the Tube and ride off into the sunset!” and left it at that.  But I was READY TO WORK. I had traveled all that way and my flatmates had gone off on their internships and/ or class. What else was I gonna do?

So I ask my boss: “Would it be alright with you if I stayed to complete this? I could lock your office on the way out.” To which he replied with a rather vehement “NO.” I was rather taken aback by this reaction considering he’s usually and `so consistently chill. Honestly, I still cannot fathom why this would be an issue. There is no money held in the office, as far as I’m aware, and nothing I would reasonably steal. For the remainder of the time, my imagination went wild–did he think I was some charlatan? Is he going to be suspicious of my motives for the rest of the internship? WHAT WAS HIS DEAL?

As you can imagine, this outburst of his strained our relationship for the remainder of my stay (at least on my end) and I left him on good professional terms, but with a seed of resentment in my heart.

Now that I’m sufficiently over myself, I’m prepared to go to work tomorrow morning without exhibiting any suspicious behavior.

Internship Day 2

Hi there. My name is Mary Beth, and this is my internship-abroad blog. Here you will find details of my adventures in London, with a particular focus on the unique professional aspect of my trip.

I arrived in London about two weeks ago and had my interview at the first available opportunity. Due to a train-strike and my on-site internship supervisor becoming ill, I only recently began my internship this week.  So while the rest of the flat is already becoming bored with the humdrum of the day-to-day London work environment, I’m raring to go.

Did I mention I’m interning at a small publishing company? It focuses on publishing a wide variety of books, mostly fiction, that are in some way markedly different from the majority of fiction out there. In fact, the publishing company is so small that it literally consists of my boss, myself, and a small handful of people my boss complains about.  I get the general impression that my boss is the only person in the company (besides myself, obviously) that is solely devoted to the publishing business. The ‘slackers’ seem to be involved in other business areas that also have residence within the building–including a cruise-line’s preparatory dance class.

It’s Wednesday now, but the first day of my internship was Monday. On Monday I was given a variety of tasks that involved very basic PR–for instance, copying and pasting various pull-quotes, author bios, and blog reviews into a single, haphazard document. Easy enough, right? Well, my boss wanted to take it slow. Open Microsoft Word.  You there? Scroll down. Find the quote by John Smith on this document I’m handing you across the desk. It’s highlighted. You see it? Copy this quote under Jane Doe’s bio, etc. etc.

I didn’t mind this approach, per say, but throughout the day I kept expecting my boss to give me the reigns. I was there to help him, not be some awkward middle-woman he had to go through to finish what he needed to do. However, it soon became apparent that he might not have a control issue–after all, he seemed to be a very laid-back man–but a seeing issue.  In those brief instances where I was trusted to work by my lonesome, I’d see him squinting over at his desk with his face quite literally an inch from the computer screen. So that was it. I was his eyes. But what did that mean for the future of my internship?

Thankfully, today I was trusted with a slightly larger and more independent task. Using the haphazard document I had completed Monday, I reformatted a PR document intended to be distributed electronically to potential book buyers and reviewers. After some small adjustments, my boss sent it off to a publishing agent he works with. We were both pleased to discover that she thought it was exactly what she needed.

Nevertheless, I felt almost guilty while I was creating the document on my own because my boss’s face remained glued to his computer screen all day. It was almost as if I was failing to be his eyes, so to speak. However, I began to understand that the man was able to complete work regardless of his visual impairment, and that despite not being able to see half of what was on the computer screen, knew a great deal about computers (particularly if they involved his job).  In fact, through our conversations, I feel I am already learning a lot from my boss, and so I don’t mind being his eyes now and again (if that’s really what I was doing Monday).

My next working day is this coming Monday because I only work in the office two days a week. The rest of my internship hours consists of reading the books we are preparing to publish on my own time (perhaps in lovely local libraries I’m hoping to find).  Stay tuned for another blog coming in the next couple of days concerning the current book I’m reading for the internship.