Name: Elle Thompson
Class Year: 2023
Major: Literatures in English and Political Science
Hometown: Redwood City/Belmont, Calif.
Internship Organization: Folio Literary Management
Job Title: Editorial Intern
Location: Remote (Living in Philadelphia, Pa.)
What’s happening at your internship?
I’m interning under Erin Niumata, an agent at Folio Literary Management. I read through a certain amount of queries I get per week (around 20 to 30 35- to 40-page samples). About 90 percent of these are quickly read and politely rejected. The top 10 percent, usually about two queries a week, have page samples requested. I then read through the requested sets of 100 pages and write up either positive or negative feedback to send to my literary agent and her assistant. The sample is then either delivered to my agent or soundly rejected so they can make a final decision on whether to sign, or let an author go.
Interns also do other tasks around the office to help Erin’s authors. I’ve gotten the chance to write feedback for drafted books by Erin’s authors, assist with writing blurbs, and once, memorably, to go to New York City to help deliver books.
Why did you apply for this internship?
Though I have never worked in publishing before, I feel I have spent most of my life preparing to work in publishing. I grew up reading. For all of high school, in my free time, I ran a blog on Wordpress in which I wrote about literature. Working with a literary agent is such a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the publishing market and what makes a great book.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?
The publishing industry is a particularly intense space to intern. I was deeply surprised by the degree to which interns deal with most of the day-to-day work of fielding queries. We have a great deal of responsibility not just to our editors, but to the authors we’re publishing. If I don’t identify a high-quality query, there’s a chance no one will. If I don’t get back to an author whose writing I enjoy, there’s a chance no one will. I’m enjoying the challenge of trying to adjust mentally to the amount of personal responsibility this role carries.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
I love feeling like I’m making an impact on the market. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to compose some of the feedback that we send to authors, and to interact with the publishing process for books that might be bestsellers this time next year. Over time, I’m learning more about craft of fiction and how to compose fast critiques, as well as working towards a deeper comprehension of the popular fiction market. I'll actually be staying on in the fall as a reader for my agent, and I’m so, so excited for more.
Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.