By Tereza Lopez ’21
I’ve been working to get into the publishing industry for a while now. When I was around twelve, I made the decision that I wanted to be an editor. I wanted to be in the writing and creation process of books—because I love books. I started trying to get my foot in the publishing door during my sophomore year at Clark. I spent a significant amount of time researching what an editor does. Once I felt I had a good understanding of what the position looked like, I began reaching out to Clark alumni.
Fall semester of my junior year (2019) was when I tried reaching out to as many people as possible. I went on ClarkCONNECT and messaged as many alumni as I could asking them if they would be willing to talk to me about their jobs. I talked to A LOT of alumni. I scheduled a lot of phone calls and emails. I tried to develop as many connections as I could with people in the field. I have tried to maintain a lot of these connections, although it is hard to keep emailing people when you are studying abroad and doing finals. Once I talked to a lot of people, I worked with Clark alumni on making my resume something a publishing company would notice. Then I started applying. I applied to several publishing companies for summer internships. And I didn’t hear back from any of them. It was devastating to have put all this work into something and not receive it.
I knew I was not going to stop trying to get an internship with a publishing company because I wanted one. I met with my career adviser, Elizabeth Gittens, to discuss how to write a proper cover letter. I wrote my cover multiple times until I felt confident with it. I rewrote my resume. I fixed everything I could with the sole purpose of getting an internship with Candlewick Press.
Candlewick Press is a publishing house that specializes in children’s books ranging from beginner reader books to early chapter books to some young adult. Working in children’s publishing is exciting because even though I do not read children’s books anymore (minus a few nostalgic reads of the Magic Tree House), I can still help shape a love of reading in others. When you can get the right book to someone at an early age, you create a reader for life. That is what makes publishing truly meaningful.
Once I finished editing these documents, I submitted them to Candlewick. The process was truly nerve-wracking. I had applied for several other internships and already received several rejections, three in total. I was doing my best to stay positive, to remember that book lovers love other book lovers, but as the wait continued, it was getting harder to feel confident. On April 29th, I opened my email to see several pieces of good news. First, I had won third place in a writing contest, but most importantly, Candlewick had asked me to proceed with the interview process. I practiced my questions and answers multiple times, but what I focused on was allowing myself to just express my love of books. I wanted to sell the book lover in me and nothing else because that is why I want to be an editor in the first place.
I did my interview with two editors who loved the books they’ve worked on so much I knew I had to work with them. One of the primary questions I was asked during the interview was about a children’s book I liked and one I disliked. As a reader, it is always difficult to pick a favorite book, but I answered honestly. My favorite children’s book is the Percy Jackson series and a children’s book I did not like was The Phantom Tollbooth. Percy Jackson is one of my favorite series because it introduced me to a diverse set of characters from an early age. Percy can be read as a BIPOC character with a troubled home and for me that was a critical identity I needed to have represented.
When it was my turn to ask a question, I asked the editor what her favorite book she worked on was, and she had an equally hard time answering. Eventually she settled on a project that also centers around a diverse group of characters telling stories that allow for a wider variety of readers to connect with the story. The connection I developed with them because of our love of books, along with the help I received, is what got me the internship I’ve always wanted. I will be an editorial intern with Candlewick this summer. This position was a labor of love for me, and I would gladly do it again.
Congratulations to Tereza who was awarded a We Need Diverse Books Grant which supports diverse interns during their internship with a publishing house or literary agency!