With a mass of deadlines ahead of me, it has been suggested that I pass down the Editorial Assistant Internship baton. While this makes sense, I can’t help but feel a pang of sadness about leaving the ISR. For two years, I’ve been working with Nina to become the best interns the journal has ever seen, and I’d say we’ve done a pretty good job.
We’ve cleaned out a cupboard and moved to a new building. We cleaned up the database and sorted out inaccurate entries. We emailed publishers and adjusted layouts. We’ve mastered a new style guide and actually, learnt a little bit about Irish history. As a first foray into the academic publishing industry, I would say I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. My ‘boss’, the assistant editor, has found jobs for us both to do, and ensured that each hour of work experience has been valuable.
Working at ISR has opened my eyes to a new area of publishing to consider working in, and I really hope I can find something in this area post-university. After interviewing graduates for this website, it seems like an exciting and evolving area to delve into.
I’ve only gone and got my name in the latest edition of Irish Studies Review! Don’t worry, I haven’t let the fame go to my head. I’m still a regular student, just working hard and meeting deadlines. I should probably change my LinkedIn bio to say that my name is in print though, right?
As well as this, I also feature on the Irish Studies Review editorial board. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it…
Being an editorial assistant is one of the most popular entry level jobs in academic publishing. I spoke to Nina, who is an editorial intern for the Irish Studies Review, which is just one of the ways to becoming an editorial assistant.
I mentioned in this post that finding reviewers is as easy as scrolling down a database, but it can be tricker than you’d imagine. Sure, you’ve found J. Smith who loves books on Catholic Emancipation and Edmund Burke, so he would be perfect to review a title on 18th Century Penal Laws in Ireland, right? Wrong! Turns out J. Smith edited this edition.
If this happens – which believe it or not, it did – one way of finding a new reviewer is to look in the bibliography for the title. All cited texts will be on the same or at least a relating topic and you can simply ask the author if they’d be willing to review your title! It helps immensely if this person is already on your database, as you’ll have all the contact information you need.
An example of interest taken from the ISR database
We had to do this a number of times, as sometimes it can be much quicker to find a reviewer with such a niche title. ISR has an abundance of reviewers who are all interested in James Joyce, so finding a reviewer for a collection of his letters is far easier!
Working on a journal, I thought I would be mostly editing text and opening post. I didn’t really consider the possibility of contacting publishers. Since moving offices, we’ve spent a lot of this term updating the database and alerting publishers of recent reviews. It sounds quite impressive and I took advantage of this by telling all my friends that I had emailed Macmillan and Taylor & Francis that morning. In reality, it’s really nothing personal. Just a little ‘Hello, your review is in this edition and the PDF is attached. Thanks, ISR.’ and then it’s off to email the next one.
See? I did get to add my name, of course. So who knows, maybe the person receiving all those emails will decide to look up Chelsea from ISR and hire me…
Although I was excited at the thought of being an intern, I had heard a lot of internships can involve endless tea-making and lowly admin jobs. Thankfully, being at ISR isn’t like that. Sure, sometimes I will make some tea, and sometimes I will open the post, but these aren’t bad things. First of all, opening the post is pretty much a key job at the journal, as without new books being posted to us, we could never send them off again for review. Secondly, I just really like tea – but I’d rather take a flat white, if you’re asking!
One of the jobs I actually found to be the most daunting and overwhelming when I first started, was applying the ISR style guide. I’ve worked with style guides before for various projects and live briefs, but the ISR style guide just really threw everything out of the water. Of course, it is just a style guide, and although it takes time to apply, it’s pretty straight forward. The only big difference with the ISR style guide, is the instructions for footnotes. Most of my style guide projects had focused on articles or chapters which didn’t include bibliographies or footnotes, so this was definitely a new one to learn.
As with all things editorial, the key to figuring out the style guide is to have a keen eye for detail. After familiarising yourself with the guide, you soon notice when a long quotation should be an extract or when an unpublished work has been cited incorrectly. I found that by asking to work more with the style guide, I was able to highlight my own areas of weakness and concentrate on improving it.
‘More than ten authors – List the first seven authors followed by et al.’
The above guide always makes me smile. As of yet, I have not come across any book with more than ten authors, but I certainly don’t doubt that they exist!
We recently moved offices at ISR HQ and this meant that as well as responding to article edits, we had a lot of backdated mail to sort through. We often keep to a schedule to ensure that articles are given enough time to be edited, typeset and proofed for the journal and moving offices in-between this definitely threw a spanner in the works! ISR is a quarterly journal so that does give us a little bit of leeway if an article or review becomes somewhat lost in transit. The quickest, and easiest, way to be on top of this is to have a regularly-updated schedule.
The one I’ve been working with is on Google Drive, but I’m sure other software is available. The Google Drive has a number of sheets, starting with the most important – ISR Library. The title speaks for itself, as we simply log in every book that comes in for review into our ‘library’. Then, when we send it for review it goes to… wait for it… Sent For Review. Genius stuff. There’s a few more steps, but eventually the book listing will end up on Published Book Review, with the reviewer and which volume it features in as added info. We also have a sheet dedicated to our reviewers. This was really vital to check when I first started interning at ISR, as it lists up to five interests for each person. You need someone to review a book on women, famine and mental health? We’ve got a reviewer already picked out for that!
Whether you’re interning or working as an editorial assistant, it is really key to get to grips with software from Google, Microsoft office or the Apple equivalent. Being able to transfer and save these files from one format to another is an extra skill I can add to the ever growing list on my CV. These pieces of software might seem daunting at first, but they’re used to make your life – and your editor’s – easier.