Reading Between the Lines

Danielle Burby '12
Danielle Burby '12
Like many of her fellow commuters on the train, Danielle Burby ’12 spends much of her daily two-hour commute reading. But unlike the other travelers, Burby’s literature of choice has not yet been published. Supported by the Class of 2006 Fund, Burby is immersing herself in the publishing world with internships at Clarion Publishing and Faye Bender Literary Agency.

A creative writing and women’s studies double major, books are Burby’s passion. “I love literature and I want my career to revolve around books in some capacity,” Burby said. “My goal is to learn as much as I can about the publishing industry, because whether I decide to be an editor, an agent, or, by some miracle, manage to be an author, the more I understand about publishing the more I can accomplish.”

She is thrilled to have internships with such big names in the book world.
Clarion is a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which publishes authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, J. R. R. Tolkien and Lois Lowry. Clarion specializes in children’s books and publishes award-winning authors, including Linda Sue Park, Gary Schmid and Katherine Paterson.

Burby spends three days a week reading manuscripts, working on permissions, contacting authors, writing rejection letters and compiling art logs. She recently read Newberry-Award-winner Gary Schmidt's newest manuscript, which will be released next spring. She helped brainstorm for a title and weighed in on the cover art. That project alone showed Burby the vitality and enthusiasm that still exists in the troubled publishing industry.

“Gary Schmidt is a beautiful writer. Everyone in the office was passing around the manuscript and became so passionate about the characters and the story, that the title and cover meetings sometimes became heated, because everyone wants the book to be perfect,” Burby recalled. “It was a special thing to see people caring so much about their job.” Burby also made countless phone calls to get the permissions to use select Audubon images in the novel. “When I see that book in print I will have the satisfaction of knowing that my work is in its pages,” Burby said. “The fact that editors and agents trust my opinion enough to give me manuscripts to read and possibly reject is gratifying.”

When she is not at Clarion, Burby spends her time on the other side of the book world: as an intern for Faye Bender Literary agency. Although she switches from a prestigious publishing house to a literary agent who represents authors that long to be published there, Burby’s tasks are similar in that she critiques manuscripts and recommends whether they should be passed to her superiors. “If I tell Faye I don’t recommend a manuscript, she generally doesn’t bother to read it.”

But despite the many manuscripts she reads that do not fit the agency’s standards, Burby has also found some gems. “I’ve read some amazing manuscripts for Faye. She’s acquired two clients I recommended to her, which is exciting considering how rarely she takes on new clients,” Burby said. Although she is occasionally nervous about the magnitude of her work (“What if I make a mistake?” she worries), Burby is confident that she is learning more and more what makes good writing and how to distinguish it.

Burby was only able to accept these internships and discover her intended career path through support of the Class of 2006, managed by the Career Center. Hamilton’s internship funds allow ambitious students to pursue positions that, due to the cost of living, they otherwise would not have been able to accept. Furthermore, a student can delve into a field of his or her choosing to see whether or not it is a good career path.

Burby graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, N.Y.
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