My summer at the Press: a bookworm’s tale

Guest post by Yasmine Kaminsky

Growing up in a suburb, summer meant two things to me: ice cream and books. If I was lucky, the two came hand in hand. Most afternoons, my brother and I, snow cone devotees, strained our ears to be the first to hear “The Entertainer” play from the ice cream truck’s speakers. The best afternoons, though, were the ones when our library’s massive bookmobile wound its way along our neighborhood’s streets.

YasmineI would run full-speed toward the bookmobile and wave my library card in the air for entry. It was with both sheepishness and awe that I gazed at the colossal, nearly bursting shelves inside. Bright and heavy with beautiful hardcovers turned soft through re-readings, the shelves were full of stories: glass slippers and curious monkeys and French schoolgirls walking in two straight lines and a talking Pooh Bear, too. Our librarian was always ready to supply me with my next adventure. I guess you could call me lore-struck.

My whole life, literature has guided me. It has been my entertainer, my instructor, my comforter, my challenger, my inspiration. Although I have been a declared English major for only about a year at Johns Hopkins, I have known since a young age that I want to live a life surrounded by books. It feels only natural, then, to be spending my summer at a place where books are made, the Johns Hopkins University Press.

I began working in the marketing department of the JHU Press as their publicity coordinator in late June. I will admit that on my first day I was a bit intimidated. By that, I mean, despite rehearsing the routine the day before, I walked the wrong way to work after getting off at the bus stop on 27th, heartily attempted opening the front door before our receptionist Andrea buzzed me in and, by mid-afternoon, was fairly certain I had broken the scanner. (Don’t worry! The scanner is actually whole and well.)

I can assure you, though, that my new-hire nerves did not last long. After all, it is hard not to feel at home when Kathryn is a Harry Potter fan; Jack has endless book suggestions; Kathy knows all the vegetarian restaurants in Baltimore; Susan brightens the department with flowers; Robin offers mango ginger chews and beet soup; and our authors reply to emails with sweet messages that never fail to make my day. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to be working in a supportive environment where I feel included and appreciated by the people with whom I work and where my daily tasks consist of more than just intern drudgework.

As a result, this summer has been a whirlwind of exposure to the “real world” of publishing for me, and I have been most certainly surrounded by some beautiful books. (Shout out to Couldn’t Prove, Had to Promise; Finding Your Emotional Balance; The 160-Character Solution; and Otherworldly Politics, which have all nudged their way onto my ever-hungry, ever-growing reading list.) Although my day-to-day antics have, of course, included some typical intern duties (I’m that person periodically hogging the scanner and becoming thoroughly familiar with the green files housed on the third floor), I have been a part of some exciting projects as well.

I have read countless reviews of our books and selected heart-warming blurbs to post online for our authors. I have helped our publicists create review lists so that our titles can find their way into readers’ loving arms. I have attended a launch meeting, during which representatives from various departments discussed how to approach upcoming titles, and have taken copious notes. I have talked to our authors about their marketing questionnaires, which are designed to help the marketing team reach their books’ target audiences, and I have proofed publicity kit materials promoting our writers. In other words, I have been doing my best to get some good books under the right pairs of eyes.

When it comes down to it, what I love about JHU Press is that, every morning, I am excited to be here. So far, I have learned even more than I could have imagined, and for that I am grateful. However, I am forever a Curious George at heart, and I realize that there is still a lot to learn. I plan to use the rest of my time here not only mastering the fine art of filing (believe me, it is an art), but also continuing to learn as much as possible about publishing—and, of course, like any good bookworm, I plan to read many, many books as well. Preferably with a snow cone in hand.

Yasmine Kaminsky, a student at Johns Hopkins University, studies English and interns in JHU Press’s marketing department.