My home has always been among the books. And as Worlds of Words’ Online Content Marketing Intern, I have truly felt at home. Not just because of the 40,000+ books, but also because of the ideas and stories that constantly flow around the office round table. The semester has been a blur, but the impact of words and the Worlds of Words will never fade.
This spring, I learned the etiquette of professional writing, editing, and social media. I have a strong bias towards style, especially as a writer, storyteller and story-consumer. However, when editing WOW Currents (particularly My Take Your Takes), I needed to learn a balance that would maintain the writer’s voice while providing quality and clear information that fits Worlds of Words’ style and conventions. Essentially, it’s not about me and it’s not about my preferences (especially if said preferences include the Oxford Comma). You might be able to tell from this post, but I myself can be quite long-winded. I didn’t even recognize the plethora of unnecessary words commonly used in MTYT’s or my own writing until the Associate Director, my supervisor, mentor, and fellow book-nerd, Rebecca, slashed sentences with me. In the end, the message was communicated more clearly and effectively, which helps best provide for our audience. Since WOW’s web content comes from board members, it’s also important to respect their voice and style, making adjustments to simply best convey their message. Just recently, there was confusion with a MTYT’s direction. Really, it was only a misunderstanding in its representation. Once I changed the title of the blog post and added an opening paragraph explaining the discussion’s origin, the post was a better fit and readers could appreciate the discussion’s contribution to the understanding of freedom in children’s literature. There are many people contributing to this incredible collection/resource and so many moving parts to be mindful of. Although we usually work on assignments independently, I’ve learned to always keep the big picture of Worlds of Words and the Board’s mission in mind.
Ironically, I’ve also learned the importance of my voice. This was quite a jump from my work as an editor. I was thrilled at the opportunity to interview Javaka Steptoe for a subsequent Authors’ Corner. This assignment had me structure the interview to further my conversation with Steptoe and leave readers with something to think about. I was surprised to find it difficult to incorporate myself into the post, since it was a natural discussion and I’m used to creative writing. However, I’m also used to writing analytical papers for class and editing someone else’s post in their voice. I had forgotten to implement my own. To be fair, part of this was also due to all of Steptoe’s thought-provoking comments – I just wanted to listen. Rebecca reminded me that I had things to say, too, and that my experience of the interview itself added to the post. I still found it hard to completely let go, but I am much happier with the final result.
We also express our voice and mission in social media. Early on, I worked on WOW’s social media, understanding the cultural nuances of Twitter, Instagram, Litsy, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Although I posted about the same event on every platform, each angle was different with a unique caption and picture to best reach its audience. However, on all platforms, it’s important to network by tagging authors, publishers, UABookstores, etc. Once again — it’s not all about us. We will have the biggest impact when we reach out and become involved in the literary community.
As a reader and (hopefully) future publisher, I couldn’t help but think, “okay, but what about the festival?” My conversation with Javaka Steptoe and previous interviews I’ve done with Pine Reads Reviews made me especially excited about the opportunities with visiting authors. The Tucson Festival of Books was an incredible experience as a WOW intern and a reader. While we see children use our resource, the festival again demonstrated the true impact we’re having. Kids loved to look through the culture kits and, of course, play with slime. Some educators and parents even commented that WOW was exactly what they were looking for. It was so exciting to see the children and families WOW impacts by providing access to global literature. As a reader, I bought all the books, got all the signatures at all the panels… and want to do it all again.
As my time at WOW comes to a close, I’ve also been able to meet with the Teen Reading Ambassadors to help plan their event with Tucson author Matt Mendez. Although the event is still up coming, it requires a lot of planning, from WOW reaching out to YA authors, to creating a flyer, catering menu and preparing for the actual book discussion. I have more insight into all the moving parts of books that extend past the pages and covers.
My time here has allowed me to share stories and voices in a way that’s accessible, but also true to the writer and their experience. I’ve seen the impact of picturebooks (represented as one word at WOW to show the equal importance of the words and illustrations), novels, and accessibility to a diverse and global collection. Books don’t just exist between the front matter and back matter, they exist in us and around us… and they matter. And, now, Worlds of Words has become a part of my own story.