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Thursday, February 11, 2021

How Authors Can Recruit Interns


You might be a good writer, but not a good publicist.  Or perhaps you’re great at marketing but don’t enjoy doing it. Or you simply realize your time is best spent writing other books, selling your book, doing speaking or media appearances or spending time with your family.  Your options are as follows: 

·         Do nothing

·         Do minimal outreach to the media

·         Hire a PR firm or freelancer

·         Have a current employee or partner solicit the media

·         Use your company’s publicist if you have one who has time to conduct a book PR campaign

·         Bring in an intern from a local college for minimum wage as a part-time paying job.

One of the best ways to recruit interns is to send a request to various nearby colleges.  You can contact the recruiter/career office at each college, as well as notify various department heads – business (marketing, PR) English (mass media, communications, journalism) or for the department that ties into your book’s subject area.  For instance, contact the psychology or philosophy departments if it’s a self-help-type book; the physical education department if your book is health or sports related, etc.

One obstacle to getting interns is that you’re not offering them to work for a large company.  Your work environment is having the intern in your living room or having them work out of their dorm/house.

Another obstacle is the school might not approve of you as a legitimate company for an internship but some schools may not learn just how small you are or they may not care.  If you explain in any required paperwork that you’ll help teach and work closely with the intern and that you’ll give them a real opportunity-as opposed to stuff envelopes and make photo copies, you might come off as an appealing option.

The letter you send to the colleges should outline the following: 

·         How many interns you seek.

·         What the internship duties will be.

·         Expected start/end date.

·         Number of days/hours needed.

·         Brief description of what they will be promoting.

·         If you offer travel reimbursement or a salary.

·         Deadline of when students should respond.

·         What you want them to e-mail, like a resume.

·         Your contact information.

·         If you require they be a certain major, age, GPA, etc.

·         The location of where the internship will be held.

·         What you are paying.

Remember that you have to follow all hiring and compensation laws and not discriminate based on sex, race, religion, etc. and that you need to be mindful of providing a professional atmosphere. Don’t feel free to walk around in your underwear even though you work out of your home.  Don’t feel you can curse, share controversial opinions, or expect the intern to be in agreement on your personal beliefs.  They are young, eager, bright kids looking for a break.  You can supply great experience, act as a reference, and teach them what you know.

What Should You Be Doing As An Author?

Writing the book is the easy part.  It gets harder when you try to get published or to sell the book once it’s published.  You also need to think about selling the rights to foreign publishers, repurposing the content to other products such as an audiobook, licensing related ideas/content for other products such as clothing, gadgets, toys, etc.  You’re looking to expand your distribution not just into traditional bookstores, but to wherever books are sold: airports, gift shops, religious stores, souvenir shops, specialty stores, in theatres, at sporting events or concerts, etc.  You want libraries to buy it as well. Plus you are seeking out news media coverage and participating in the interviews that you schedule.  Then you’re starting the whole process over for future books with a sequel, series, or completely fresh idea.  Speaking engagements, book signings, media appearances, talks with your literary agent and writing all become part of your routine as you immerse yourself into this new career earth.

To find a list of nearby colleges or universities and their contact information you can search online at various sites, such aswww.colleges.com, or consult your local online phone book or a directory of colleges like the annual edition published by US News & World Report. You can post  an internship position on www.LinkedIn.com, www.GlassDoor.com, www.InternMatch.com, or www.Internships.com

For the fall and spring semesters you’re likely to draw only upon nearby schools but for the summer, you might find local students who attend far-away colleges.  A reasonable request is to get 15-20 hours per week from an intern in the fall or spring, as they’re also attending school and possibly working weekends.  But for the summer, you might get students who can be with you full-time if they don’t have a part-time job elsewhere.  Be flexible.

Things That May Hint They Will Be Good

They show up early or on time, they ask you questions based on having researched you, they have experience in PR or marketing, they have juggled heavy school loads or jobs in the past, they are sociable because they’re active in campus organizations, and they are interested in books, based on what they say they’ve read.

What To Look For In An Interview

Look for someone who exudes confidence, a desire to learn, excitement for your book, an interest in PR or the news media. You want someone who communicates well, is reliable, can work independently, but meet deadlines, and who has a GPA that may not hit the Dean’s List but isn’t approaching a C average. They can’t be shy and need to be go-getters.

Availability

Most students are available for a fall internship beginning the week prior to Labor Day and ending by the first full week in December, just as finals kick in.  For the spring, many can begin around a week prior to MLK Jr. Day and ending by the first full week in May just as finals take place.

In order to get students for the fall, you have to contact students prior to the spring semester ending.  I recommend you send one round of letters around February and another around March 15, near spring break.  This gives students a chance to apply and to interview with you. I would hire one more than you need, because often plans change and students can’t honor their commitment to you. I’ve had students cancel because they found a paying job, they got sick, a family member became sick that they had to care for, they had trouble scheduling required classes to fit around the intern schedule, and a dozen other reasons.  So be wary of this.

To get students for the spring, send letters around Sept. 15 and Nov. 1.  For summer interns, follow the schedule outlined for getting fall interns.

Supplies

Make sure to give your interns all the tools and resources they will need to succeed, from phones and computers, to e-mail accounts, database access, and basic supplies; pads, pens, stapler, tape, folders, etc.

Once you determine utilizing an intern is right for you, make the most of the relationship and hopefully it helps both of you.

Learn, Grow, Succeed!!

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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at  brianfeinblum@gmail.com.  You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum. 

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