Tyler Lee ’15, Rutgers University Press

Tyer-LeeFor our Princeternship, my classmate Rose and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to shadow Mr. Dana Dreibelbis ‘78, an editor at Rutgers University Press. Only a short drive away from Princeton, the Press is also located conveniently close to the New Brunswick train station. Our host welcomed us warmly and offered us tea and coffee, apologizing for the fact that the office was undergoing some repairs, a fact that in no way hampered the enriching nature of our experience.

Mr. Dreibelbis began by explaining his job and giving us a comprehensive overview of university press publishing. We flipped through the catalog for the Press, noting the wide array of books published on a variety of academic topics. As an acquisition editor, Mr. Dreibelbis both receives and solicits proposals for academic manuscripts, specifically clinical and medical topics. These types of books, we learned, are fairly unique among academic publishing, as a large part of medical publishing occurs in journals, in addition to the fact that they often pose a greater design challenge, requiring detailed images. This, however, makes for a very cool finished product – later, he took us downstairs to the Rutgers bookstore and showed us some miniature, pocket-sized spiral-bound reference books for medical students with illustrated step-by-step instructions.

Next, we met with a production manager who laid out in detail the various steps that a manuscript goes through to become an actual, physical book. I was impressed both by the number of decisions that are made for every book’s production – whether to make it hardback or paperback, whether to use offset or digital printing – as well as by the high level of communication with the author. In particular, we learned that authors are very involved in the design of their book and often have a specific image that they provide for the cover, which I found interesting in comparison to trade publishing, where authors often have no say in their book’s cover.

The second day, we sat in on a staff meeting, in which the various departments all reported on their current projects and activities. Before this Princeternship, I definitely had not been aware of how many different dimensions there are in the publishing process, and it was especially interesting to hear how important marketing was. We learned about the various ways the books are marketed – through social media, book fairs, and more. Another key aspect is the season in which books are published. The biggest season is the spring, so ideally books are published in May. This is so that review copies can be sent out in June to professors around the country, who will then hopefully purchase the book to use in a class. However, the winter season is important in publishing as well due to the holidays! Again, this was something I hadn’t even considered as being a part of the publishing process, and I was intrigued to learn how important it was.

Overall, Mr. Dreibelbis emphasized the open aspect of the publishing industry, and the fact that one can really have any background to get involved in the field. He also spoke positively of the benefits of a smaller press such as this one, in which everyone is aware of their roles and eager to help junior staff learn. From my few short days there, it seemed as though the staff was very friendly and close-knit. Another aspect that I particularly liked was the fact that multiple professionals at the Press cited the rewarding nature of their work, and how they felt involved and well-read due to the many fascinating authors and topics that they engage with. For me, this Princeternship definitely solidified publishing as a potential career option, and I would absolutely recommend the Princeternship Program to other students – it really does offer an invaluable first-hand experience.

Rose Lapp ’15, Rutgers University Press

Rose-LappWhen we arrived at the office of the Rutgers University Press the morning of the first day of our Princeternship, we noticed there were fans blowing everywhere, and big plastic curtains separating the entryways. Apparently, due to freezing weather conditions, the ceiling pipes had burst just that weekend, soaking a large part of the building, including the office of our Princeternship host, Acquisitions Editor Dana Dreibelbis ‘78. Nevertheless, he (and everyone else in the office) was unbelievably accommodating, and did not let the inconvenience get in the way of letting us see the publishing process.

Our first day was primarily informational. We were shown around the office, visited both editing and publishing offices, and admired the stacks of books. The Press keeps a copy of every book they’ve ever published, which was pretty amazing to witness. We spoke with both Dana and a member of the production team to get a better sense for what a normal day for a Press employee might look like and spent some time browsing the catalogs to see what kind of books are published by an academic press, as well as how they are marketed, packaged and sold.

On the second day, we got to sit in on a full staff meeting, which I think was the most valuable part of the Princeternship for me. We were able to follow along on budget sheets and agendas that were handed out to us, as well as to the staff, as the heads of the various departments made their presentations. The office is relatively small—only seventeen people—so it was easy to figure out who everyone was, and what the inter-department relationships are like.

I came into the week interested in editing, but knowing nothing about the production or business aspects of the publishing business. I was surprised by how interested I was in layout and design, as well as by the thought processes that go into marketing and publicizing a book.  These two days shadowing Mr. Dreibelbis were really informative, and I would recommend this Princeternship to anyone who thinks they might be interested in publishing (from copy editing to layout to sales) as a way to learn more about the overall process. For me, it solidified publishing as a possible and exciting career for me after graduation.

Sydney Kersten ’16, Rutgers University Press

Sydney-KerslenThe atmosphere inside Rutger’s University Press was relaxed yet professional, and had an air of honesty about it.  Mr. Dana Dreibelbis ‘78, our host, and executive editor of the University Press, gave us a tour of the place, a one-year-old facility recently moved above a bookstore, a fitting location.  One of the first tasks we were given was to read a 100 page manuscript, and in the words of Mr. Dreibelbis, “do the Hemingway thing,” and read it.  He heads the medical side of publishing for the University Press, in an attempt to do what few university presses do and include professional medical works in their publications.  He pulls in an entirely different side of academia, compared to the typical manuscripts received regarding anthropology, sociology, and such.  His publications are in the fields of pediatric urology, oncology, neurology and cardiology with a wide range of audiences, from medical students, to athletes, to parents.  With medicine as his focus, part of the shadowing included a short walk over to Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Hospital.  We sat in on a meeting in which he discussed a prospective book with the chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.  As the director of the Women’s Health Institute at the medical school, this doctor proposed a book combining female collegiate athletes and her extensive knowledge in obstetrics.  It was an eye-opening experience to be on the inside, watching this process unfold.

Originally meant to be a two day Princeternship, it was unfortunately cut short.  One day, however, was enough to give me an incredible appreciation for the work the Rutgers University Press staff do.  This small business is a smoothly running machine, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of the process for a day.  The insight I gained in this Princeternship was invaluable, and I cannot thank my host enough for the experience.

Natalie Gasparawicz ’16, Rutgers University Press

Going into my Princeternship, I expected it to be a valuable experience, and offer me a glimpse into the real world of academic publishing. Fortunately, this is exactly what happened. I shadowed the Executive Editor of Rutgers University Press, Dana Dreibelbis ’78, for a day. From the start he made me feel welcome with his enthusiasm for publishing and his openness.

The day began with introductions and a discussion of what my interests were about publishing. I wanted to simply get exposed to as much as I could about publishing. Thus, Dana gave me background knowledge about the academic publishing business, showed me materials – including seasonal catalogs of the books Rutgers University Press has published –  and shared his experiences in the field. He also gave me one of his client’s sample manuscripts to look at—this gave me an insider’s look into one of the stages of the publishing business.

Another exciting part of the day was when we had the chance to sit in on a typical publisher’s meeting with an author—something I would not have been able to witness if it weren’t for this opportunity. By the end of the day, I was able to meet with one of Dana’s colleagues and had the opportunity to hear Dana’s advice about going into publishing right after graduation.

I’d like to thank Dana for teaching me about the nature of the publishing business and his own work, as well as showing me around. This opportunity has made me realize that publishing is not exactly how I envisioned, but is something I’d like to consider in the future.