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Introducing Publishing Intern Heather Van Fleet

Today’s People in Publishing interview is with the sweet and lovely Heather Van Fleet, a Twitter friend of mine and intern at BookFish Books. Here she discusses the manuscript submissions process and her experience working on both sides of publishing…

Heather Van Fleet

Heather Van Fleet

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and career.

Thanks so much for wanting to interview little ole’ me. 🙂 I feel so special!

A little about myself, huh? Well, let’s see. I’m a wife, a mom, a YA/NA author represented by the fabulous Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary. I have an obsession (only SLIGHT ones) with coffee creamer, book boyfriends, The Walking Dead and Jamie from Outlander.

I’ve been writing for about six years, been published five times, and after going through the query trenches when trying to find pub houses and agents, I’ve decided I have more patience for behind the scenes action within a publishing house rather than waiting for one of them to tell me they hate (or love) my books. Hence my internship.

Why do you want to work in the publishing industry? What is it that appeals to you?

It all stems around the fact that I absolutely LOVE reading first and foremost (even more than writing some days.) I love the escape of it, the way a reader can pull me out of my daily woes into fictional woes instead, and provide me with a (sometimes) happy ending.

After I finally obtained my ultimate goal of landing an agent, I realized that the waiting game didn’t stop there. (And as much as I like to say I have patience…I don’t.) That got me thinking about the submission process itself, behind the scenes, acquisitions and what goes into it. Not long after that, an opportunity just so happened to come about for me to intern through another pub house. This one was very well know, and I learned a LOT from them. But something didn’t quite feel right under them, either. That was the point where I almost gave up on my behind-the-scenes dream for a while.

Until the day BookFish Books announced that they were seeking interns.

Tell us a little bit about BookFish books and how you came to be working with them.

Like all normal afternoons when my kids are at school and my younger kiddo is happily playing away without me for once, I was strolling through Twitter. That’s when I just so happened to see a tweet that made my eyes pop and my heart flutter. BookFish was looking for interns. And because I really admired their work, their covers, and the way they interacted with their readers, I  knew I had to apply. I’d been actively following them for quite some time, thinking to myself “I really love these guys.” So I sent them a little info on myself and they responded right away, sending me a few questions. I answered and then I waited… And about a week later, Erin Rhew, an author/editor through them, offered me and one other girl a position, immediately assigning me little jobs, and making me feel like a family to this group of ladies. Right away I fell in love with their house even more, their stamina, their ways, their professionalism alone, and said to myself “This feels so right. Don’t mess it up, girl.”

And now I do everything I can NOT to mess it up, lol.

What sorts of tasks and projects do you work on as an intern?

As an intern, I am all over the place, and I LOVE it. I read submissions, weigh in on fulls and partials, giving my opinions on what’s good to go, or what’s not. It makes me feel official, a part of something, you know?

I also do publicity, too. Setting up blog tours for upcoming tours/cover reveals/etc. is a big part of that. It’s something I am familiar with, seeing as how I used to be a publicist for a tour company in the past. I love to get the word out on authors. It gives me so much happiness. (And that sounds so mushy, I know. But it’s the way I am.)

What is your favourite part about interning for a publishing house?

I LOVE reading submissions. I also LOVE knowing what it feels like to find diamonds in the rough. The most exciting thing so far was when I said I loved the book, and said it deserved to be contracted for publication, and then having two of the editors think the same thing and then seeing that it actually happened. *insert giddy squeal*

I cried a little bit over that, don’t laugh. But I mean, I saw this great thing happen right before my eyes, and even though I had no idea what was going on inside the author’s head when she received the offer, I still imagined her being where I was four years ago when I got my first offer for publication. Ecstatic, overwhelmed, feeling blessed beyond belief. That moment is something an author never forgets.

As an intern, I am all over the place, and I LOVE it.

What makes BookFish books a unique publishing house?

Besides being amazing? lol, I think they are unique in the fact that they all work behind the scenes together. It’s not just one person making decision with minions who do their bidding, it’s a family, a group of diverse individuals who all are at their own stages as far as publishing goes, but all work together to make it work…and work well it does.

I’m not a very lucky person. I’ve had three publishing houses close down on me in the past when it comes to being an author. Losing royalties, no contact whatsover, and editors just being plain cruel to the authors. But BookFish Books made me realize that not all indie publishing houses are bad. In fact, they restored my faith in the indie world. They are a growing house, with some amazing releases coming up, and are DEFINITELY going places in the indie world.

I’m just happy to be here on this amazing journey with them.

Bookfish Books restored my faith in indie publishing houses.

What are three good qualities that a publishing intern should have?

  • Willingness to jump in and just do things. (Treat this as a paying job. It’s just as important, and you’re getting the opportunity to be part of something amazing at the same time. Don’t forget that.)
  • Be available for anything and everything. Take every opportunity given and run with it.
  • Knowledge in all the types of genres they accept. For instance, I’m not middle grade fan, BUT I have to read middle grade books for submission, so I need to know what to look for, even if I don’t read it on my own.   

Tell us a little bit about your work as an author and your books.

Um, let’s see. I’ve written eleven books total. Five published, spanning from YA to NA, contemporary being my favorite, although I do dabble in the occasional paranormal and sci-fi elements as well. RIght now I’m on a self induced authorly hiatus as far as writing goes, though. (Some like to call it writer’s block, while I prefer to say I’ve taken two months off to ponder what I’m passionate about writing next.) Sure it’s frustrating not to voice the crazy little people speaking inside my head, but it is what it is. And for now, I’m perfectly content taking the time off. (Seeing as how I wrote four books last year, I guess I kind of needed this break, too.)

What are the benefits of working in both sides of publishing?

The benefits? Hmm… Would it be bad to say I look at what works and what doesn’t as far as writing goes? I’d say not because that’s normal when reading in general. Always comparing yourself to other authors and such. What I really love though is helping make dreams come true with my opinion alone, and even when I don’t succeed, I feel darn near giddy wanting others to do just that.

And finally, what are you reading at the moment?

Favorite question ever. I just finished reading Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren and HOLY cow am I suffering from a hotness hangover. (I love me some smexy books, FYI.)  

My Website:

BookFish Books website:

My Twitter:

BookFish Book’s Twitter:

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