How to Intern at a Publishing House

I’ve done two internships at publishing houses and sometimes I get asked how I found those internships and opportunities. Let me just say that if you’re interested in publishing or if you simply like books and want to do something interesting with them, internships are wonderful learning experiences. You don’t have to know a lot about publishing or want to be in publishing forever. And if you love books but hate dealing with the fussiness of grammar, don’t worry; there are other things you can do.

A few things to know:

  1. Many publishing houses have internships not only in editing, but also several other areas including: graphic/web design, marketing, social media, printing, publicity, and copyright law.
  2. Most of the publishing industry (in the US) is on the east coast, primarily New York and Boston. Others are definitely out there, but you have to look harder. So be prepared: If you land an internship in NY, you will be expected to go to New York—on your own dime.
  3. Most internships are unpaid, but will count for course credit. This is great if you’re in college. If you’re not in college, it’s still excellent experience, looks great on your resume, and you will receive a nice reference letter. Occasionally internships will reimburse travel expenses within the city where the internship is. (For example, when I interned in London, I paid for my flight there but I was reimbursed for part of my fare for the London Underground.) (If you want to read more about my internship in London, check out my other blog: arielinlondon.wordpress.com.)
  4. It’s ok to be picky. There are hundreds of publishing houses out there and most of them focus on specific genres. Go after the genres you enjoy.
  5. Large vs. small publishing houses: My internships have been at small publishing houses, and I’ve loved it. One benefit is working closely with the higher-ups and learning directly from them. You develop a relationship with that person, who might agree to be a reference for you, which could come in handy later. It’s all about networking. Another benefit is more responsibility. You will probably get a more personalized learning experience and be allowed to take on more than might be allowed at larger companies. *Don’t forget, though: You’re not just unpaid labor. This is a learning experience and they should be teaching you and treating you fairly.

How to find internships:

  1. I would start with Bookjobs.com – that’s how I found my internship at Anthem Press in London, UK. This site will show you specific openings for interns at companies. But this is by no means a complete list of all the internships out there.
  2. If you’re concerned about location, Google search publishing companies in your area. Still, Google will not find all of them.
  3. Google search publishing companies in the genre you’re interested in. Try “literary fiction publishing companies” or “cookbook publishers” or “travel writing publishing”.
  4. Get the 2012 Writer’s Market. This book is not just for writers. The best part of this book is that it has a VERY extensive list of publishers and the genres they publish. If a few interest you, find their websites.
  5. When you get to a publisher’s website, find their Employment or Careers page. Most internship information will be there along with normal job openings. It should give you information on how to apply. You may be asked to interview. Especially those interested in editing and design, be prepared to take a test. Whatever the guidelines for applying are, FOLLOW THEM EXACTLY. If it says email your resume, do it. If it says make sure your resume is submitted as a Word doc, not a pdf, do it.
  6. If no information about internships is listed on the website and you are REALLY interested in interning for that publisher, try emailing or calling to inquire. There’s no harm in asking. Otherwise, there are other companies out there. If internships aren’t listed on the website, they might not be a high priority for that publisher and therefore probably wouldn’t be a good learning experience for you.
  7. Keep looking. I regularly find out about publishing companies I’ve never heard of, and I always find the company’s website so I can learn about them.

I hope that this information helps if you’re interested in publishing. Good luck!

You might also like: 5 Things I Love About Working in Publishing

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21 thoughts on “How to Intern at a Publishing House

  1. Cassie December 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm Reply

    Thank you.

  2. Justin October 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm Reply

    Interning at a major publishing house would be such a great resume-building opportunity for young publishing professionals. Great list, thanks!

    • Ariel Price October 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm Reply

      Agreed! I’m so glad that I was able to intern.

  3. HarryIllingworth December 2, 2012 at 10:46 am Reply

    Thanks, very helpful. I am currently trying to get an internship at a publishing house. No joy so far though

    • Ariel Price December 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm Reply

      Sorry to hear that. Keep trying, and keep looking for new publishing houses. There are SO MANY. Another suggestion: try researching newspapers in your area. Often newspapers have editing internships as well.

  4. sammiejones February 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm Reply

    Thank you for the advice!! I’m doing this kind of search now. :)

  5. Megan August 6, 2013 at 8:40 am Reply

    I’ve been writing since a young age and I always thought I’d like to get into publishing maybe one day open my own company. Maybe an internship would do me some good figure out if that’s what I really want to do with my life.

    • Ariel Price August 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm Reply

      Hi, Megan! You should definitely do an internship. It’s a great way to learn the business and decide if you’d like to do it. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. deniseslee August 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm Reply

    Thanks for this; it’s very helpful! I’ve been interested in doing an internship with Anthem Press in London as well. Did you enjoy your experience?

    • Ariel Price August 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm Reply

      You’re welcome! Yes, I absolutely loved my internship with Anthem. I got practical on-the-job experience and learned a ton. Definitely a good move if you’re interested in publishing.

  7. dhvani shukla January 11, 2014 at 1:42 pm Reply

    Thank you so much! I’ve always wanted to do this and your advice helps a lot!

    • Ariel Price January 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm Reply

      Oh good! I’m so glad it helped!

  8. […] You might also like: How to Intern at a Publishing House […]

  9. literaryvittles February 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm Reply

    This was very, very helpful. I’ve thought about doing a publishing internship from time to time. Unfortunately, I think the prime time for me to do so has passed–I’m no longer in college, and with monthly student loan payments, taking an unpaid internship isn’t an option. It’s good to at least know that they are typically not paid, so that I don’t spend time looking for opportunities I can’t take advantage of.

  10. Suparna February 3, 2014 at 10:06 am Reply

    I am going to start interning in a publishing house in Delhi next month and this is my 1st internship given to me through my college faculty. I wanted to know what kind of work is usually given to an intern? and is it okay if one is not a pro at their work?

    • Aishvarya August 20, 2014 at 12:57 am Reply

      Hi Suparna, I’m interested in interning at Delhi based publishing houses as well. Do you think you could help me out with a few names I could apply to?

      • Ariel Price August 20, 2014 at 8:52 am

        Hi Aishvarya, Unfortunately I’m not familiar with any Delhi-based publishers. I wish you luck with your search! – Ariel

  11. booklover July 8, 2014 at 6:44 pm Reply

    First of all, great article – I just recently decided on career in publishing and as a result am enrolled in a copyediting course. I have applied for only a couple of internships so far – one for which I was not selected for an interview, and the other for which I was. I am having second thoughts about it though as it is in the children’s department – a genre that I’m not particularly interested in. One of your tips was to be picky and to choose something I’m interested in. Should I still consider this internship? I feel as though I should take what I can get, even though I have not applied to many others yet.

  12. Kara September 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm Reply

    Thanks for this advice; it’s reassuring in the internship search. I am currently planning on applying for an internship at Anthem Press in London, and I was wondering if you could provide me some details. Do you know an approximate time frame that you received a follow-up email from Anthem Press after applying for an internship? Furthermore, do you remember when you were notified of your acceptance?

    Any advice or answers you can give me are much appreciated!

    • Ariel Price September 2, 2014 at 7:48 am Reply

      Hi Kara,

      Thanks for reading! It was a long time ago now, but if I remember correctly it happened pretty quickly. I applied, heard back within a few days, and in a few more days I had the internship. Hope that helps! Good luck!

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