A Reflection on My Time at the Press

I’ve always wanted to have a career with an English studies focus. Well, other than when I was four-years-old and told anyone who would listen that I wanted to be a ladybug when I grew up. Dreams change from four to twenty-two, that’s for sure. I’ve grown up and I’m looking for ways to have a successful career in the publishing industry. The UNG Press helped me start my journey.

In June of 2016, I came to UNG for a transfer student orientation, where I walked around campus and talked to a faculty advisor from the English department about my career goals. That was the first time I heard about the UNG Press. I’d only received a little information, but I knew I wanted to be a Press intern before I graduated. I would gain valuable insight and experience. I’d get to be in an actual publishing house around other editors. So when I applied for and received the internship position, I achieved a personal goal I’d been thinking about since 2016.

My internship with the Press has been everything I hoped it would be and more. Initially, I was so focused on being a copy editor that I dismissed other industry opportunities that were right in front of me. Working at the Press showed me those opportunities.

My internship focused on creating content for the Press’ social media platforms. I conducted extensive research about publishing and marketing and used the research to create entertaining and professional blog posts. These assignments taught me the importance of writing for a specific audience and writing concisely and comprehensively. Immersing myself in these new parts of the industry and seeing the hard work that is essential to the success of the Press has provided me with the knowledge, experience, and appreciation that I will need when I begin my career.

My internship has shaped me into a better writer and a more compassionate and experienced soon-to-be college graduate. As I’m looking for jobs that allow me to expand on the knowledge and tools I’ve gained this semester, I’ll be thanking everyone at the Press every step of the way.

I am one step closer to having the career that I want because of my experience at the Press.

Writing Ekphrasis Poetry

Do you ever see a painting or photograph that speaks to you? An entire story that unfolds in your mind and begs you to write it?

Odds are you haven’t heard of ekphrasis poetry—not the technical name, anyway. Most of us don’t even know what the word ekphrasis means, but it’s likely you’ve read or written some ekphrastic poems in your life. Ekphrasis poetry is the vivid description of a scene or work of art. It’s not only description though. You often amplify and interpret the meaning of the artwork so much that a brand new world is created for the subject.

Photo by Alvaro Serrano on Unsplash

John Keats did it with “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” in which he created a life of dancing and music for a couple frozen in time on an urn. W.H. Auden’s “The Shield of Achilles” is ekphrastic as well. He reimagined the events of Homer’s description of the shield in The Iliad.  Countless others feel an overwhelming sense of inspiration to speak for and through works of art.

Writing an ekphrastic poem can be an easy start. Sometimes, it’s as simple as feeling inspired from any piece of art and putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard). If you want to write your own ekphrastic poems, here are some prompts to help inspire you:

  1. Visit an art gallery or museum. Check out different exhibits and write about a specific work that catches your attention.
  2. Do you follow your favorite artist on social media? Write a poem inspired by one of their Instagram photos.
  3. Imagine van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, Kahlo—anyone!—have “lost works.” Write a poem about what you think their unseen paintings would look like. There could be a story there!
  4. Pick a painting or photograph special to you and write different poems about it. Create a different scenario each time—the possibilities are endless.

Ekphrasis poetry is all about being inspired by other forms of art. Writing ekphrastic poems can help us elicit inspiration, overcome writer’s block, and simply have fun while writing. We don’t all have to write an ode to an urn like Keats did, but we should have just as much fun challenging our writing and creative processes. So, go on! Find a picture on Instagram and write about it. Write about a very Starry Night. Just write!

What is a Backlist?

Did you know that many of the most well-known novels—even your favorites—are considered backlist titles? Everything from the Harry Potter series to Catcher in the Rye and The Handmaid’s Tale are backlist titles in the publishing industry.

A backlist is a publisher’s list of older books that are still in print, but have been on sale for more than a year. The backlist is the opposite of the frontlist, which is a publisher’s list of newly published book titles. Books often become a part of the backlist because there is limited shelf space in stores, which is usually designated for frontlist titles that a publisher is marketing extensively. Because the period in which a book title goes from frontlist to backlist is so short, most of a publisher’s title catalog consists of backlist books.

Photo by Robyn Budlender on Unsplash

All hope is not lost for a book when it becomes a backlist title. In fact, publishers rely on backlist titles to bring in steady revenue because, though the books may be older, they are still generating sales.

Publishers can focus their marketing on selling frontlist books while accumulating revenue from the trusty backlist titles. However, publishers also market backlist titles to generate more excitement and sales. Because backlist titles are available as e-books, their unit sales increase, which translates into more revenue for publishers.

Backlist titles also play an increasingly significant role in the revival of independent bookstores. Unlike major bookstore chains (who carry few backlist titles) and Amazon (which allows third-party sellers to make revenue off backlist titles), some independent bookstores buy in bulk from the publisher and sell a store full of backlist titles. This creates revenue for both parties and creates a direct connection with customers.

Titles such as Milk and Honey and Wonder, which have been best-sellers for at least three years, are still outselling some frontlist titles. This trend shows how valuable backlist titles are to the market. The availability of backlist titles improves the publishing market because the frontlist titles have to compete with them. Between e-books, Amazon, and independent bookstores, backlist titles have found a place in the market and will continue to compete with frontlist titles for best-seller status.

Next time you pick up one of your favorite books, remember it’s not just important to you, but also to the entire publishing industry. And when you want an older book, check out your local independent bookstore or buy from the publisher—you’ll be helping more than just yourself when picking up a backlist title!

Happy International Mother Language Day!

“Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day worth celebrating this February! Today we’re celebrating International Mother Language Day.

International Mother Language Day, or IMLD, is a day in which people celebrate the nearly 7,000 languages that are spoken around the world. Since the proclamation in 1999 by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), every year on February 21st, people have observed and preserved different languages and cultures, while also promoting peace and multilingualism.

Photo by Aszadur Rahman Chowdhury via Flickr

While International Mother Language Day is a day for celebration, its significance bears a sobering reminder of the struggles and sacrifices people in history have made for justice. IMLD is a way to commemorate the tragic events of the Bengali Language Movement in 1952. The Language Movement was an uprising in which many people lost their lives, fighting for the recognition of their mother language, Bengali, as an official language in the then-Dominion of Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). Each year, Bangladeshis remember them with a ceremony at the Martyr Monument at the University of Dhaka.

Other countries also observe International Mother Language Day in recognition of the events in Bangladesh and to convey the importance of preserving all languages. This day reminds us that language is not meant to be divisive; instead, we should acknowledge what makes us unique. We can attain unity and compassion for others by taking the opportunity to explore languages we didn’t know existed and garner new appreciation for them.

Today, it is important not just to commemorate, but also to participate! Every year the United Nations chooses a theme for IMLD. This year’s theme is how linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development. By acknowledging and using the thousands of mother languages, we can help sustain languages and ensure education for millions of people. So, what can you do this IMLD? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Browse social media to see what people are posting in their mother languages.
  2. Learn about a language and culture you know nothing about.
  3. Learn new words from a different language.
  4. Support organizations and campaigns that work to preserve languages.

International Mother Language Day is a day shaped by brave martyrs who came before us, and now it is a celebration of how our differences can unite us. I encourage you all to spend this February 21st dedicating a little time to exploring and appreciating new languages!

For more information about IMLD, visit the United Nations’ website. To keep up with IMLD celebrations, follow #IMLD on Twitter and Instagram.