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October 3, 2016 at 11:11 am

English Major Lands Dream Internship at Melville House

Hannah Koerner spent her summer as an intern at Melville House.publishers. She is pictured in the window of a bookstore called Flourish & Blotts.

Hannah Koerner spent her summer as an intern at Melville House.publishers.

by Kristin M. Distel

Hannah Koerner, a senior English major and Honors Tutorial College student at OHIO, spent her summer completing the internship of her dreams—an editorship with Melville House publishing company in Brooklyn, NY.

This extremely competitive internship was one of 30 for which Koerner applied.

“The application process took my entire winter break and a good portion of my free time during junior year,” Koerner notes. She had to submit a letter that explained why she was especially suited to an internship in publishing and why she wants to work for a publishing house.

“Publishing interests me because I like thinking of literature as responding to current cultural needs. Publishers deal with books in critical, thoughtful ways that are all about present moment.” Interning at a publishing house allowed Koerner to gain greater insight into “what books people are interested in—and why.”

Cover of The Monster's Daugther

Koerner interned at Melville House, which published OHIO doctoral student Michelle Pretorius’s debut novel in Summer 2016

An OHIO Connection in Brooklyn

Interestingly, Koerner’s internship with Melville House coincided with the publication of OHIO doctoral student Michelle Pretorius’s debut novel, The Monster’s Daughter, which was published by Melville.

“I was there for Michelle’s publication day,” Koerner notes. “Everyone at Melville was so excited to bring this book into the world.”

Hands-on Experience with Publishing

Koerner’s internship allowed her to work in all departments of Melville House’s publishing operations.

“I worked in the editorial department, in academic and general marketing, and in publicizing new work,” she says.

Koerner also proofed book covers, galleys, and jackets and assisted with fact-checking upcoming releases. Though she enjoyed all aspects of her internship, especially proofing, one of the highlights of her work with Melville House was her role in assisting with a recently released book, David Cay Johnston’s The Making of Donald Trump.

“I was able to see the book come together from start to finish,” Koerner says.

‘Melville Spoiled Me a Bit’

Koerner praised Melville House’s staff and the environment they created.

“As an intern, I existed in a space where books were being created constantly, and it was fun to see that people are so excited about publishing. Publishing is a business, and it can be highly commercial. Melville House is a smaller press, but they take risks on passion projects that other, more commercially focused presses, wouldn’t publish. Melville spoiled me a bit. Everyone was genuinely enthused about their work. Plus, everyone is well-acquainted with everything in Melville’s catalog,” which, Koerner explains, is sometimes rare at larger publishing houses.

Melville House Sign

Interning at Melville House taught Koerner “what books people are interested in—and why”

Living in New York was also an exciting change for Koerner, who had never spent extended time in the area.

“I loved living in Brooklyn,” says Koerner. “It was great to visit those great, iconic bookstores in Brooklyn.” She also developed working relationships with publishers in the city. “I was happy to see how much of a community there is in the world of publishing.”

Obtaining a Competitive Edge at OHIO

OHIO has afforded Koerner many opportunities to prepare for both her Melville House internship and an eventual career in publishing. She worked for the Ohio University Press during her freshman and sophomore years, where she assisted with the anthology Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia. A highlight of this experience, Koerner notes, was proofing essays by Dorothy Allison and bell hooks, which were reprinted in the anthology. Koerner has also worked as an editorial intern for Brevity and New Ohio Review, which she says gave her a competitive edge in her internship application.

“OHIO has a lot of publishing opportunities that students can get involved with. I have organized subscriptions, corrected proofs, entered authors’ corrections, and assisted in several other areas. This made me stand out,” Koerner explains.

As a senior, she is considering life after OHIO and how she might continue working in the world of publishing. Her current plan is to apply to graduate programs that specialize in publishing and, of course, staying in touch with Melville House and her OHIO English Department professors and mentors.

“My experience at OHIO and at Melville House will help secure me a career in publishing,” Koerner says.

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