One for the Books

Hali Baumstein '11
Hali Baumstein '11
Some people struggle to find a career; others pursue careers in a field about which they have been passionate since a young age. Hali Baumstein ’11 finds herself in the latter category. A self-proclaimed bookworm since childhood, Baumstein has a summer internship with HarperCollins Publishers that she hopes will help her get a jumpstart on a career in publishing. She is supported by the Joseph F. Anderson ’44 Internship Fund.

If you own books, you probably have at least one published by HarperCollins. One of the most highly respected publishing houses in the United States, HarperCollins publishes books in every genre, from adult fiction and nonfiction to children’s books and cookbooks. Different types of books come from different “imprints,” or divisions, of the company, and Baumstein is interning with William Morrow, which specializes in adult fiction and nonfiction. The imprint publishes well-known books such as Freakonomics and cookbooks by Food Network stars. Baumstein’s particular editor works with authors such as Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Ray Bradbury, Christopher Moore and Joyce Maynard.

As an editorial intern, Baumstein’s tasks vary widely. “Literary agents are always sending the editors manuscripts to look at, so a lot of what I do is read these submissions, then write a reader’s report summarizing and evaluating them. My report helps the editors decide whether the manuscript deserves a second look, or if it should be rejected,” Baumstein explained.

Baumstein also finds herself writing quite a bit, composing rejection letters and formulating questions for a special ‘Q&A’ section of an author’s upcoming book. And because HarperCollins is so well-connected, it holds special events for its interns: “We’ve heard talks about digital readers like Kindle and iPad, and Google iBooks,” Baumstein recalled. “We also attended an author reading by Vendela Vida, and went on a field trip to a book production plant. It was fascinating to see how books actually get put together!”

But most importantly, Baumstein has learned what it takes to work in publishing. “So much work goes into books that I never even knew about!” she noted. “Not only is there editorial, but also marketing, publicity, sales, art, production, distribution… Publishing is a complicated process, but it works, which I find unbelievably cool.” She has made important contacts that might help her get into a tough industry. A chat with Michael Signorelli ’05 piqued Baumstein’s interest in publishing, and she is learning the value of good contacts; “Everyone I’ve met has stressed the importance of networking, especially in regards to getting a job. The experience has encouraged me to be more confident about building relationships and keeping in touch with people,” Baumstein said.

Despite the benefits that HarperCollins has provided for Baumstein, her internship is unpaid and has thus been made possible by Hamilton’s Joseph F. Anderson ’44 Internship Fund, managed though the Career Center. The fund provides stipends to support full-time internships for students wishing to take on not-for-profit internships in preparation for potential careers after graduation. A student in any proposed or declared area of concentration may apply for the award.

Baumstein is a graduate of Radnor High School in Radnor, Pa.
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