Page 1 of 1


Posted: August 5th, 2010, 3:14 pm
by EMC
Dear All,
I wish to apply to literary agencies and publishers for internships, and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for helping me write a winning email/letter?

(I know I'm a 'writer' and should be able to do this myself - but I write fiction, so unless I make the whole thing up...)

So far I have:

Dear Sir/Madam (obviously this will be personalised.)
I wish to enquire of the possibility of an internship at your company. I am a fiction writer, beginning a Masters in Creative Writing in Trinity College Dublin, this Autumn. I have previously been long listed for the Fish Short Story award (2009).

I am an avid reader, and after graduating with a Masters next year, I foresee a career in the publishing industry, as a literary agent/reader. (Delete as appropriate). I am currently completing two novels and a short story collection, as well as an illustrated children’s book – on the side.

In a previous life, I was an architectural technician, which has given me a training in attention to detail, results oriented action and project management skills, as well as client/contractor negotiation skills!

etc etc.

Any ideas?
Would greatly appreciate anyone's help.


Re: Internships

Posted: August 5th, 2010, 4:09 pm
by polymath
Internships are an entry level position, rarely paid, generally in a hands-on learning enviroment. A cover letter for an intern position query probably is best for introductions and detailing reasons for interests. In other words, showing a willingness to learn, to stay on task no matter how trivial or grueling it might seem, to participate as a team player, and to meaningfully contribute to the operation.

For a new intern that usually means doing gopher work, early apprenticeship chores like sweeping up and doing all the menial jobs no one else wants to do. Apprenticeships traditionally took seven years because the first five years was management getting their money's worth out of an indentures investment. In the meantime, the apprentice was soaking up the vernacular and cautions and trials and methods and other business considerations, so participation became more contributory. Then, in the later two years of an apprenticeship, the actual perfomance of expert tasks were learned and applied to front end product work and by demonstrating mastery through a masterpiece project. Then the successful apprentice graduated to journeyman status.

Information about related accomplishments is best listed in a separate résumé or curriculum vitae. That way they don't come across as all-knowingness, which is contraindicative of learning eagerness and teamwork. Good interns are pliable interns.

Here's an opportunity for interns with a U.S. publisher, and fairly standard in terms of generalities for literary agencies and publishers' internship expectations;

Re: Internships

Posted: August 5th, 2010, 4:12 pm
by EMC
Thanks for the link. I am aware it will be an unpaid position - I'm doing it to get a foot in the door, connections, a sense of the business from the inside etc. I appreciate your reply though.


Re: Internships

Posted: August 5th, 2010, 4:21 pm
by polymath
The part about internships being unpaid was for general audience benefits. My main point is demonstrating a cover letter's purposes for internship querying; it's a letter of introduction. The main point to make is showing an eager personality, like in an excited voice.

Re: Internships

Posted: August 5th, 2010, 4:22 pm
by EMC
Ah thanks. That was a genuine thank you previously too. Apologies if it didn't come across that way.
Yeah, letter (clearly) needs a lot of work, but just thought I would see if anyone had any ideas.

Re: Internships

Posted: August 5th, 2010, 4:40 pm
by polymath
I understood.

Another facet for the cover letter to consider; personalize it by showing some knowledge of a targeted firm's client and book lists, personalities, ancedotes, why or how they were chosen for application, like because they specialize in a favored genre, because of their marketplace reputation, etc.

I did a publishing internship at a university press during my CRW BFA. Though an insider, I still had to go through a rigorous approval process. And there was competition. It was close, because I have an abrasive personality in person. I bit my lip, acknowledged it, and committed to what I could do to ameliorate it. Which mostly meant knowing when to wait to be asked for help and when to step up and when to sit still, when to say nothing, when to be encouraging, and never negatively critical unless put on the spot. I was more pliable as an intern than as a student. If I'd been a more pliable student I might have gone straight from BFA to MFA. I leaned something I needed to learn too late.

Re: Internships

Posted: August 11th, 2010, 11:07 am
by IlGrido
Can someone list a possible list of publishing companies that are hiring for editors? Also, if it's not listed on the website that they're looking for editors do you think it's an ok idea to contact them directly anyway to inquire about that?

Re: Internships

Posted: August 12th, 2010, 7:49 pm
by Nathan Bransford
The best places to look for job postings in publishing are on MediaBistro and the Publishers Marketplace Job boards.

Re: Internships

Posted: August 13th, 2010, 3:58 am
by EMC
Thanks Nathan! Alas they seem to be in the States, which doesn't suit me this year, and next year the plan is global domination...but if that falls through... ;)

Re: Internships

Posted: August 31st, 2010, 10:17 pm
by mojo25
I recently got laid off and am looking for another job in publishing. I'm using the site and I've noticed there are a TON of internships available right now in NYC. So college students or others in NYC area who want to break into publishing, you can have your pick--from publishing companies to literary agencies to new media companies...of course, most don't pay, but the connections and experience might be good...

Re: Internships

Posted: September 4th, 2010, 9:44 am
by embox
Like with any writing, you want to write your cover letter with your audience in mind. Your audience wants to know 1. Your objective, 2. What you will do for them, and why you are better for this position than the many other applicants, 3. Who you are.

Your itnro is very good, though I would save the award stuff for a last paragraph (and add with that info how your experience as a fiction writer will help you do this job better). In the 2nd paragraph, focus on your skills and traits that you will bring to the role instead what you hope to get out of it. Yes, it's a role intended for learning, but they already know that part so save it ad
nd use the space to sell yourself instead.