Wichita State Student Gains Industry Insight Through Dzanc Books Internship
19 September, 2023
A Wichita State University student, Denae Sawyer, has recently completed a remote publishing internship, bringing her one step closer to her dream career in the publishing industry.
As a child, Sawyer was enthralled by the world of books, her father frequently reading to her from the popular children’s novel, “My Father’s Dragon”. This early exposure to storytelling and literature sparked a lifelong passion in her. “Books, reading, and the art of storytelling have always been a part of who I am,” she stated.
This passion led Sawyer to secure an internship with Dzanc Books, a non-profit publisher known for its literary fiction and non-fiction. As a master’s degree candidate in innovation design at Wichita State University, Sawyer dedicated 20 hours a week during the spring semester to her remote internship. Her responsibilities ranged from reading and researching manuscripts to evaluating potential audiences and marketing strategies.
“We would sift through and select a manuscript that particularly resonated with us,” she explained. “Then we would start building a basic portfolio comprising the story’s summary, its strengths, its intended audience, and its marketability.”
The internship provided valuable insights into the needs of the publishing house. Dzanc Books, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has had a decade-long relationship with Wichita State University. More than 50 WSU students have interned with the publisher, according to Dr. Darren DeFrain, chair of the Department of English.
Sawyer, who graduated from Wichita State with a Cohen Honors College degree with concentrations in English, marketing, and innovation design, sees editing as a potential career path. She found the internship eye-opening in terms of the diversity within the publishing industry. Publishers work with different genres including fiction, non-fiction, textbooks among others. It takes a team comprising editors, artists, photographers and marketers to bring a book to market.
“I completed the internship and discovered that there are many creatives involved in the process,” she said. “I was fascinated by the interactive and communicative nature of an editor’s role, which piqued my interest in pursuing a job in this field.”
The internship also equipped Sawyer with valuable work skills that are applicable across industries. She learned how to work remotely and manage her time effectively. As an editor, she had to communicate with authors about whether their manuscripts were a good fit for Dzanc Books. In one instance, she had to tell an author that their story, while having an interesting theme, was bogged down by a lackluster lead character. She provided constructive criticism while being mindful of the author’s investment of time and effort.
“It was a learning experience on how to communicate professionally with others,” she said. “It’s not just about what you say but also how you say it.”
Sawyer advises students to seize opportunities to gain real-world work experience. Internships can provide crucial insights into potential career paths or even reveal that a particular field might not be the right fit. Whether it’s a publishing house or a gym marketing agency, real-world experience is invaluable. It’s not just about more gym members or Facebook ads, it’s about understanding the intricacies of the industry, from gym lead generation to advertising for gyms.
Sawyer’s internship has not only honed her skills but also reaffirmed her passion for the publishing industry, bringing her one step closer to her dream career.