Ahna Fryhover Kasey Smith Liz Harms
College students across the nation will spend their summer reading for pleasure, but three University of Arkansas – Fort Smith students have the privilege of reading novels and short stories as part of an internship with a prestigious literary press.
Ahna Fryhover of Fort Smith, Liz Harms of Fort Smith and Kasey Smith of Pea Ridge are working as readers with C&R Press, where they read manuscripts by authors and recommend the top works for publishing consideration. The internships are conducted remotely, with the students corresponding with the editors through email and Skype calls.
As aspiring editors and writers, the internship has helped them see the inner-workings of the publishing industry firsthand.
“As a writer, it’s helping me see things from the other side – like what publishers are looking for and what criteria that your work needs to meet when you submit it somewhere,” Fryhover said. “From an editing perspective, I’m learning about the industry, and building skills that I need to do freelance work or work with a publishing company.”
The internship also tasks interns like Smith with analyzing works, looking underneath the surface of a story that may be enjoyable to read but may lack depth upon deeper examination.
“Before this internship, I just read for fun, but I know now I have to dig deeper into the story and find plot and theme and make sure it’s consistent throughout the story,” Smith said. “I know I can’t just like a story. I have to have a reason behind it.”
In addition to being a reader, Harms is also scheduling events for authors’ book tours, which puts her in contact with coordinators of international literary festivals and other members of literary communities around the world.
“Having the opportunity to help coordinate a portion of an international book tour has helped me understand the formalities and structure associated with the publishing industry,” Harms said. “Learning the inner-workings of publishing is very hands-on, so being immersed within the different roles an editor plays has been an engaging and invaluable learning experience.”
The internship was made possible through Dr. Christian Gerard’s Editing as Profession class, where he tasked students with editing a short story into a new story by rearranging the story without deleting any words.
Gerard was so impressed by his class’s performance in the project that he posted on Facebook about it, attracting the attention of Facebook friend John Goslee, founding editor of Fjords Review and owner of the nationally-acclaimed C&R Press.
Goslee initially planned on conducting a national search for interns, but after talking with Gerard, the two agreed that Goslee would Skype into Gerard’s class with his partner Andrew Sullivan to discuss their lives as writers and publishers and ask only UAFS students for internship applications. This opportunity would allow Gerard to also teach his students about crafting application letters in a real-world setting.
“I wouldn’t have had the opportunity had it not been for Dr. Gerard, and I wouldn’t have the writing skills I have if it wasn’t for him either,” Fryhover said. “His teaching style is very transparent and hands-on. He asks us what we need from him, and he finds out what we need individually and tries to provide that. He’s an excellent mentor.”
Gerard said the internship provides students valuable lessons about the publishing industry.
“So much in the literary and publishing world happens through three things: understanding one’s self as a part of a larger community of writers, understanding the collaborative relationship between editors, publishers, and writers, and believing in the community,” Gerard said. “I am incredibly proud of all my students for working together to actualize and understand the kairotic moments when they happen. Everybody helped everybody in the classroom, and everyone was supportive and encouraged when the interns were named. Such an environment and attitude is what we want our students to be in and achieve, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this success for my students and my university.”
For more information about the university's Rhetoric and Writing program, visit http://academics.uafs.edu/majors-minors/rhetoric-and-writing