A Dream to Inspire
Alyssa DelPrete is a junior at Hanover College in Indiana. She is currently an intern for Book Business and Publishing Executive.
When I told many of my family and friends that I was coming out to Philadelphia for four months (a semester of my college career) to obtain an internship in editing, they seriously questioned my judgment. Philly is about ten hours' driving distance from my hometown of Mishawaka, Indiana, a small town that doesn't even register recognition from many fellow Hoosiers. Most people from home couldn't fathom spending more than a few days' vacation time in a big city, let alone moving to one for nearly half of a year. What added to their hesitation is the fact that I harbor the dream of one day breaking into the world of literary publishing, an industry (as I have already quickly learned during my first month here) that is in a major transitional period.
When asked why I'm so passionate about following this dream, I go back to the summer following my junior year of high school. I've always been a pretty big book nerd, and so it was only natural that I ended up at the library on one of the first days of the summer to select a book to read. I didn't have a specific title in mind, so it was entirely by chance that I stumbled upon a book entitled A Silent Ocean Away by DeVa Gantt, an historical fiction that, for one reason or another, piqued my interest.
Though I was always a speedy reader, devouring books as quickly as I could get my hands on them, this particular book consumed all of my free time for two or three days as I was swept away by the riveting plot and beautiful, captivating prose. I immersed myself in the life of Charmaine Ryan, a young woman who suddenly finds herself working as a governess for a wealthy, powerful family with a dark past that slowly comes to light throughout the story.
A Silent Ocean Away is the first book of The Colette Trilogy, which DeVa Gantt (a pseudonym for the two sisters who collaboratively authored the story) originally self-published as one book. HarperCollins then picked up the book and published it, transforming it into a series of three, significantly shorter, books (the second book is Decision and Destiny and the third is Forever Waiting).
What drew me to these books is that they perfectly unite beautiful writing with an engaging plot and great character development. When I was still in the age group assigned to teen fiction, it was difficult for me to sift through the selection and find a story that was both well written and interesting. While The Colette Trilogy is technically considered adult fiction, it's the story of a young woman, who, though living in the 1800s, was totally relatable to me.
But nobody's heard of DeVa Gantt or The Colette Trilogy. As far as I know, the women have not published anything since, and I'm sure it's due to this lacking readership. Everyone who I've introduced the books to have loved them, and I can't understand why such a rich, captivating story is largely unknown to people. The fact that it was so difficult for the books to even get traditionally published is upsetting to me when I pick up a book of lesser quality that has widespread popularity.
This has inspired me to want to have a career in publishing. I want to help get books of quality like this book series published. It's a rather lofty, idealistic goal to strive to accomplish, but it's my dream. I fully believe in the value of the written word and how powerful even a fictional story can be, and I want to introduce young people to books of substance that have the capacity to inspire.
I've now been in Philadelphia for nearly two months, with a little over a month's experience in my internship. In such a short time, I've learned invaluable things about myself and the industry. The spark that was ignited in me three years ago has grown, engulfing me in a passion that I know I need to follow.
There's a significant amount of negativity in the publishing world today, but I think the industry needs to remember that whether it's print or digital, publishers need to be searching for and generating an appreciation for moving stories with good content. In my very (very) humble opinion, this always needs to remain the focus and the goal. I don't believe that people will ever stop being inspired by a great story, and I think that should provide publishers with hope.