There’s no such thing as “too many hats”

Guest Blogger Chris Price

Which way of thinking?

If it were possible for me to summarize what I’ve learned from my internship in one phrase, it would be this: There is no such thing as “too many hats.” I believe anyone interning at a publishing company would agree.

When I say “hats,” I’m not referring to the literal headgear used for keeping your eyes shaded from the sun. No. What I’m talking about are the different ways of thinking, which come in several shapes and sizes, cultures, categories and, in essence, overall purpose in composition.

The Company

Asta Publications specializes in ghostwriting, editing and self-publishing, and offers publishing services to first-time authors, veteran writers, organizations and corporations, and everything in between.

One week I may be expected to write a piece promoting a compilation book on living life after domestic abuse. The next week I may be expected to edit the commentary on an Italian cookbook. Wearing the same “hat” when editing both pieces would result in ineffective editing, and thus, ineffective writing.

What I’ve learned, specifically

1. A reading people will always be a knowing people

As a writer intern for this company, I’ve learned I that I’ll have to both write and edit for several different audiences. Editing a manuscript with an overall storyline intended to voice the thoughts of man’s heart compels me to put on the hat of the 19th century thinker, and guide the author towards creating events and circumstances that convey feelings like deep melancholy, or inexpressible ecstasy. Whereas editing the manuscript of a children’s book would be a whole different ballgame.

If I want to edit effectively, wearing different hats, I’d have to own them in the first place. This can only come by reading, reading and reading some more.

2. The importance of book promotion

Before being with Asta Publications, although I was aware of the need for book promotion, I was completely oblivious to degree in which it was stressed. They have offices in New York and Georgia, and each employee is expected to know something about almost every manuscript coming in. Employees are then strongly encouraged to utilize social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr to promote the pieces, even if it’s not their editing assignment. Everyone’s always kept in the loop because of conference call discussions, editors meetings and the random informal calls by peers who are just curious about what everyone else is up to.

3. The importance of good customer service

Many first-time authors call in with unorganized ideas, and have expectations of a good, finished product. Ghostwriting, as mentioned previously, would be most applicable in this section. Ghostwriting is basically the editor listening to (and usually recording) the authors talk about their ideas, plans and content so far for a particular manuscript, (usually a novel) and putting together possible outlines for the overall piece.

The necessity of customer service is just as much important in this field as it is for a Publix grocery store clerk. Often times, writers can be timid and doubtful about their potential, and our job isn’t merely to fix their errors and publish content like a hard news source at the cost of harsh reporting and invasive questioning. Our job is to encourage the writer first, and then give criticism where criticism is due.

For my major’s courses, I’ve always worn the hat of “intrepid, hard news journalist.” I’m glad the opportunity to intern with this publishing company compels me to practice and experience wearing more hats. I’ve been able to learn about different audiences, ones which want to know what’s going on in the world, and also ones that want to make sense of it (as well as the most random of topics that exist in between). I encourage anyone wishing to do the same to intern at a publishing company, regardless of his or her major or minor.

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