Chip MacGregor

December 11, 2013

If writing is a business, why not? (a guest blog)


When my new book, Grace’s Pictures, released, I knew I needed to do all I could to promote it. But at the time I faced a challenging rewrite of my next novel, a long planned for overseas trip, and my son’s wedding. The solution seemed to be finding someone to help, but I couldn’t afford to pay for an assistant.

 The answer came when I realized that my writing was indeed a business and I needed to think of it that way. Corporations employ interns not only to provide young people an experience that will help them when they enter the job market, but also to get things done. I couldn’t pay someone to help me, not with money. But I did have something to offer. Since I’ve learned some things along my writing journey, I could pass some knowledge on to a student who was considering entering the publishing field.

 I had no idea how to do this. I had no internship myself when I was in college. But I did not let that stop me. I decided to go out on a limb and ask questions. Since there is a private liberal college not too far away, I Googled and discovered they have a wonderful Creative Arts program. I emailed the professor in charge and to my surprise she emailed right back and said she had a student in mind who would be perfect.

Like most things that sound too good to be true, it turned out not to be that simple. I had to follow up twice to find out this student had changed her mind. The professor went back to the drawing board, but also suggested I check with a larger university. I did so, and they advertised for me, but my intern ended up coming from the smaller college. She was a freshman with little understanding of the publishing world, but she was willing to learn and try.

 The drawback to this kind of thing can be that you have to spend time figuring out what you would like the intern to do and then explain it. So this does take a little bit of time, and I was short on time. In the end, however, it was worth the investment because she did land a radio interview for me, assist at a couple of signings, and talk up my book. She gave me a list of all the media she contacted as well so I could follow up later. In return she learned how hard authors have to work to promote their books, and she learned about the many fields in publishing that she might want to pursue in the future. Her college also gave her some credit for the time she spent working for me. All I had to do was fill out an online evaluation. (And now I’m on their list for internships as well!) At the end of her time with me, I arranged a conference call with my agent (the kilted one!) and she was able to ask questions and get a bit of advice for exploring the field of creative writing and publishing. She was very grateful, and so was I. I love mentoring and teaching, so this was perfect for me. It probably would not work for every author, but for some, this out-of-the-box thinking could be very rewarding.

 Have you ever thought of taking on an intern?



Cindy Thomson is the author of  Grace’s Pictures, Brigid of Ireland, Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story, and the forthcoming Annie’s Stories.  She’s a whiz at Irish stories, loves her Cincinnati Reds, and has a soft spot in her heart for the Chicago Cubs, who she notes “haven’t won a World Series since my cousin pitched for them in 1908.” We appreciate Cindy stepping in as a relief pitcher while Chip is on the bench with an illness. 

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