A book is far more than a compilation of pages and text sandwiched between two covers; a book is labor in print, the culmination of countless hours spent on writing, revising, printing and promoting. As an author in my own right, each of my works is a part of me. Whether in a blog like this one, a piece of poetry, or a novel, every single word in print is carefully crafted in order to evoke a specific emotion from the audience. However, the author is not the only one who works on a title. Though they are the creative minds behind their texts, the public eye would never have access to their works without the essential medium, the catalysts of the written word, Publishers.
Publishing is hard work. The past four months I have spent as an intern at For Beginners and Benay Enterprises have proven that without a doubt. Working on webpages, drafting press releases, securing rights, dealing with agents, among many other things, working for a Publisher requires a multitude of skills in various fields. My internship at For Beginners and Benay has armed me with the skills I need in order to succeed in the world of Publication, but there are many interested in the field that do not have access to the unique and incredible opportunity I have had the privilege of experiencing.
There is, however, one University providing interested students with a glimpse into the fast paced field of publishing. Portland University’s Ooligan Press, an entirely student-staffed press, has recently implemented a program called “Start to Finish,” in which the students give an insider’s perspective on creating a book. Tracking the evolution of a title from acquisition to release date, students blog about their experiences during a title’s long journey to the printing press.
The response from participating students has been overwhelmingly positive. After working on Eliot Treichel’s story collection, Close is Fine, one student credited the project with “helping [her] to overcome [her] fear of taking on something bigger than [her]self.” Creator of Start to Finish, Jonathan Stark, said it best, “Each book we publish has an epic story of success behind it that exists totally separately from how well it reads or how well it sells.” Thus, the concept of the so-called “second story,” the story of a title’s creation that remains absent from the story in print yet is of just as much importance as the author’s writing.
Though it often remains unheard, the second story is responsible for the first. The literature audiences read and love would not exist without the Publisher, something both the students at PSU’s Ooligan Press and I know quite well. So next time you pick up a book, whether it be an informative and reader-friendly For Beginners title, a book from one of Benay’s publishing clients, or perhaps a recent release from Ooligan Press, take time to appreciate the hard work it took to put that book in your hands.