Summer 2023 Press Internship Reflection by Susanna Spearman
University Press of Kentucky
My Time on the Acquisitions Team
The University of Kentucky has been publishing scholarly writing since 1943, but in 1969 University Press of Kentucky was organized and since then has represented a consortium that now includes all of Kentucky’s state universities, seven of its private colleges, and two historical societies. In alphabetical order, they are: Bellarmine University, Berea College, Centre College of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, The Filson Historical Society, Georgetown College, Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, Spalding University, Transylvania University, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Pikeville, and Western Kentucky University).
Many people outside of Appalachia and outside of the Commonwealth conjure limiting, often offensive ideals about who and what Kentucky represents. For decades, UPK has been combatting this by elevating voices and people whose stories and lives are as diverse as the real Kentucky. They have published well-known Kentucky authors such as Frank X Walker, Wendell Berry, Crystal Wilkinson, bell hooks, Silas House, James Still, and countless others. They have a book series on film history, one on Appalachian art, one on regional diversity, and many more. They publish everything from coffee table books to academic compendiums. UPK serves a crucial role in our beautiful Commonwealth, and so many folks would never have the opportunity to be published without them!
I served as an intern for UPK’s Acquisitions Department from early June through early August this summer, and I was able to peek behind the Oz-ian curtain of how the publishing world works. I had the opportunity to read submitted manuscripts and write staff commentaries about them. I sat in on meetings where the team discussed which manuscripts could come out as far away as 2025. I learned how many pairs of eyes pass over a manuscript before it reaches shelves. I also got to see how a small team, relatively speaking, puts out so many books every year. If given the chance, I would love to work at a place like UPK someday—the work is not easy or simple, but it is important and can be so exciting. As someone who wants to publish my own work someday, I found it even more exhilarating to get to handle and discuss work written by others. I love books and reading and the power that words have to make us feel and to make the world more colorful and broad.
I am deeply grateful for Tatianna and Patrick—my “handlers” for the summer. They taught me so much about what they do and how things work at UPK. They were always patient and generous with me, and I would not have gotten nearly as much out of my time at the press if I hadn’t been working alongside two such lovely individuals. I think us bibliophiles are birds of a feather, and I will take what I learned from the Acquisitions Team into my own work and my own future as an author and teacher (and maybe someday someone who works in publishing). Thank you all for such a wonderful opportunity!
Published on August 24, 2023