by Winter Murray
When I started as an intern at IOM, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. As a college student majoring in psychology, I hadn’t exactly had any experience in the publishing industry. In the intervening months, I’ve learned a lot—both about the industry in general and about IOM’s values and mission in particular.
Above all, my time at IOM has emphasized one thing: the importance of building meaningful relationships with good people who do good work in the world. Every person who signs with IOM has something meaningful to say, something that we want to help them share with the world. IOM refers to our talent as a family, and it’s something that we take seriously. Our founder, Martina Faulkner, always somehow manages to be personally up to date on all the latest developments in our talent’s lives. From bi-weekly newsletters that share our authors’ accomplishments to classes on various aspects of the publishing industry, our goal is always to support our authors and illustrators on an individual level and help make sure that their ideas are heard. The publishing industry as a whole can be impersonal and numbers-driven, but I’ve found that IOM’s relationship-driven model is essential to the work that we do.
These values have carried over into my day-to-day responsibilities as an intern. The work I do at IOM has run the gamut, and I’ve been able to gain experience in everything from font selection and cover design to (after I proved that I knew what I was doing) manuscript editing. There are more decisions to be made than you might think when it comes to publishing a book. Even children’s books, which many people incorrectly believe are the simplest genre to write, generate way more decisions than I’d ever expected. Throughout the dozens of decisions that go into publishing every book, the underlying goal is always the same: build genuine relationships with everyone involved in the process.
This isn’t just limited to authors and illustrators; it also extends to the people who do their work behind the scenes, like editors, graphic designers, and website designers. When people are genuinely invested in a project, the care they put into it comes across in a meaningful way. By building positive relationships, we are able to collaboratively work through decisions on everything from comma placement to illustrations, ultimately reaching an end result that we can all be proud of.
At IOM, we hope to make a difference in the lives of the people who interact with our work. From my point of view, at least, if our audience walks away having learned something new, then spending days at a time researching comma rules was all worth it.