Company/Organization: Penguin Random House Publishing
Mentor(s):Anne Diaz, Sophia Necel, Lauren Weber
Topic of Internship
Publishing Marketing and Publicity
Located just a few blocks from Time Square, in the heart of the Theater District, Penguin Random House Publishing Group LLC resides in the gleaming Random House Tower, a fifty-two story mixture of residential penthouses and housing for Penguin Random House’s broad spectrum of publishing groups. Among these is Alfred A. Knopf and Doubleday, the group with which I engaged as an Intern for the “Senior Experience” opportunity offered at the Academies at Englewood. I wanted to intern here primarily to learn the business aspect of selling books; how authors become more popular and how those already established stay so, in hopes that it would help guide me later down the line. Since I’m attending college under an English Major, it’s quite likely I will have to publish a piece for graduate school at some point or another, or even possible I may find myself an aspiring writer. Whatever the case, however, I rest assured knowing that I’ve gained a plethora of knowledge about the publishing world and could confidently say it’s been a positive experience, one for the books, if I may be so clever. In 1925 Bennett Cerf and Donald S. Klopfer bought “The Modern Library of the World's Best Books” from Boni & Liveright, a list of inexpensive classics bound in lambskin and sold for 60 cents each. Among these were such titles as Treasure Island and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Cerf Purchased the group for two hundred thousand dollars, a move which is attributed largely to the eventual collapse of Boni & Liveright group. Upon their decision to expand and appeal to a variety of consumers Cerf and Klopfer changed the name of the company to Random House, and thus the world’s largest general publishing corporation was born. Penguin and Random House started as two separate groups, Penguin with around forty-six imprints including Penguin Classics, Viking Press, and Signet Classics; distributors of many of the books found in the Academies. Random House claims five major publishing groups, Crown, Alfred A. Knopf Double Day, Random House, Random House Children’s Books, and Digital. These five major groups are subdivided into smaller imprints, with as many as twenty-one imprints in a single group. Within my Department, Alfred A. Knopf and Doubleday, the imprints are Knopf, Doubleday, Anchor, Everyman’s Library, Nan A. Talese, Pantheon, Schocken, and Vintage. I worked with the marketing department of Knopf and the Publicity department of Doubleday, the switch occurring in mid-January due to my assistant Mentor being moved to another group. Doubleday was founded in 1897, making it the third earliest member of the Random House Group to be founded. Alfred A. Knopf wasn’t founded until 1915, and wasn’t purchased by Random House until 1960 for three million dollars. Along the way Random House published a number of game changing books including Ulysses in 1934, Putnam, bought by penguin in 1996, published Lord of the Flies in 1954, and of course one of Random House Children’s Books most prize publications is The Cat in the Hat in 1957. Penguin made itself well known all the while, selling about 2 million books a year in the 60’s, it’s founder Allen Lane even being knighted a few years after. In 1973 Random House bought Ballantine Books, the publishers of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 1976 Random House published the first Star Wars novel by George Lucas, the beginning of one of the world’s most popular series in fiction and on the big screen. In 1998 Random House officially started its reign as the world’s largest trade-book publishing group with the acquisition of Bantam Doubleday Dell. Not until 2013 however did it become the corporate monster it is today in the merge with Penguin Putnam books. To this day Penguin Random House continues to acquire publishing groups that deem themselves worthy, the most recent being McClelland and Stewart and Santillana books.
Summary of Internship
My contribution to such a large Publishing Group is a small one but none the less important. The majority of everything I’ve done has had to do in some way with pre-sale book prepping. Once a book’s been published there’s not much more you can do, it’s on shelves and it’s got to play its course. A smart marketing team will increase and decrease publicity and sales merchandise along with actually copies being shipped according to how well a book sells, but sales are sales, the work behind a book all happens in making sure you can score as many sales as possible. Two of the biggest tools in pre-sales marketing tactics are the galley and ARC. A galley is a bound book, in it’s most basic form. It usually is not completely edited for content, and has empty spaces where there might normally be a page number or a dedication etc. The Galley is by no means a finished work, there’s still corrections to be made; however, the novel is close enough to the finished version to get the plot as well as an idea of how well received it will be. Galley’s are normally sent out to people for review, Book bloggers are especially key in this process, as they not only give feedback on the book to editors but also usually write their critic on their blogs, providing for free advertising of sorts. Corporates are all about saving a buck and though the reviewer’s pay nothing to read the books in advance, they’re allowed this privilege in expectation of a review to follow, which is doubly rewarding. If a blogger especially loves a book they’ll give it a positive review on their blog, which usually has around 400 plus followers, yield 400 plus people now not only aware of the book but already seeing it in a favorable light all thanks to a little forward investment in Galley’s. After Galley’s comes ARCs, these are printed when once the department knows for sure the books a go and they want to start sending them out to real reviewers. During the time I’ve worked at Alfred A. Knopf I’ve done countless book mailings, consisting of filling envelopes with an ARC and labeling them with a set list of reviewers addresses from such publications as The New York Times, Chicago Sun, O Magazine, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, among countless others. Though not nearly all those who receive a copy will review the book, the three or four who do usually have such a following that a visible jump in sales is seen on “TNT” sheets (a tool used to monitor sales over a given period of time.) Other than mailings I read galleys , researched an astounding amount of blogs to send them to, and even put galley sized stickers on the back of them to fix a mess up, rather than reprinting a couple hundred over again. Through working at Alfred A. Knopf I learned the invaluable qualities of media in marketing. The concept of a little up front leading to much more later on is the brain child of such marketing teams as Random House’s and I’m glad I was able to grasp in full the benefits such a small down payment can yield for corporations such as these.
Besides researching blogs and sending galley’s I did type up quite a few minutes from marketing and imprint meetings. These are handled in a routine way, each book in talked about in turn with everything from advertising opportunities, sales dates, and possible reviewers to author interviews and Barnes and Nobles merchandise. Literally any and everything pertinent to the book is covered. Though I only saw the summarized important things covered in the minutes, I noticed how routine and regular it was for my department, showing that consistency and follow up (hence the minutes being typed) are mandatory to progress marketing wise.
All in all I served the role of the average intern, I was able to aid in some of the things that are absolutely necessary to running a corporation. These tasks helped me to fully grasp all the steps involved with publishing a book and all the criteria needing to be met to market it.
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