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Beacon Behind the Books: Meet Gabel Strickland, Digital and Social Media Intern

Gabel Strickland

Welcome to our rebooted “Beacon Behind the Books” series! In these times when readers are responding to our books “more than ever,” when our authors—including Aubrey Gordon, Tanya Katerí Hernández, Robin D. G. Kelley, Angela Saini, Eboo Patel, and Gayl Jones—are appearing in the media, their ideas going viral on social media, their voices being heard on so many platforms, we thought it would be good to take a break to focus on some of the staff who work hard to find, shape, edit, produce, and promote those works. Our blog series introduces to you a staff member and gives you a behind-the-scenes look, department by department, at what goes on at our office. And not only our staff, but our interns, too.

This month, we introduce you to Gabel Strickland, our digital and social media intern! 

What drew you to publishing, Gabel? How did you find your way to Beacon?

Like many people in the publishing industry, books have been a lifelong love of mine. At a certain point, it dawned on me that books aren’t just these magical things that poof into existence, but that there is a select group of lucky people who get to create them.

When I graduated high school, I decided to go to Emerson College, where I major in journalism and minor in publishing as well as comedy writing and performance. As a student, I just poured myself into my publishing classes. I just fell in love with the production process, from reading to editing to designing to marketing. From there, I started searching for internships and immediately set my sights on Beacon Press. “Igniting hearts and minds” is what all writing should strive for, and what I have always hoped I could do with my publishing career. My journalistic background gave me a greater appreciation for the abundance of nonfiction work Beacon does. So . . . yeah, here I am!

What’s a typical day in the life of a digital and social media intern?

A typical day for me involves a lot of filming and editing videos together, since much of what I’m doing right now involves boosting our TikTok account. If you ever see me wandering around the office scrutinizing the lighting of the room or scouring bookshelves for books to use as props, I’m probably filming a TikTok. I also spend a good amount of time on Canva making graphics for Instagram. When I’m not actively making graphics of videos, I’m reading our newest books and scrolling through TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter to come up with new content ideas. I might also be filling out data sheets or writing up blog posts.

What are some of the challenges of being a digital and social media Intern? What do you find most rewarding?

I think the biggest challenge of being a digital and social media Intern is balancing my schedule as an intern with my schedule as a student. That being said, my job at Beacon is so very rewarding. I can confidently say that out of all the interns in Boston, I’m the one having the most fun. I love getting to share my love of books—and the important topics Beacon writes about—with the internet in the silliest of ways.

You’ve attended a handful of office meetings. Tell us more about those experiences and how they add to your work.

Working at Beacon has given me the opportunity to sit in on staff meetings, look at title information sheets, databases, and so much more. It’s a valuable glimpse behind the scenes, and everything I learn about the publishing process makes me even more enchanted with the industry.

What is one book on our list that has influenced your thinking on a particular issue?

Living While Black was one of the first books I read from Beacon Press, and it has continued to influence my thinking in the months since I’ve read it. Guilaine Kinouani has gotten me to pay more attention to the connection between mental health and the Black experience. One of the ideas the book touches on is how in a world that doesn’t value you, taking care of yourself is so important as a Black person, and is even a form of resistance to that discrimination. I also feel that the exercises included in the book curated a particularly intimate reader experience, one which I think other books should try to emulate. Now, when I have conversations about racism and racial justice, I weave discussion about self-care into them.

How much of what you learned in college have you found vital to your work?

My various fields of study have really intersected well in terms of the work I do for Beacon Press. As I touched on earlier, my journalistic background makes me especially appreciative of the nonfiction work that Beacon publishes. My publishing classes have given me insight into the actual book production process. I’d like to think that my comedy comes through in our fun little posts, but that’s for the audience to decide.

What upcoming projects are you excited about?

I have a number of blog posts and video ideas for TikTok that I am excited to share in due time!

What’s your advice to someone interested in entering the publishing field?

Haha! At this stage in my life, I’m still better suited to take advice rather than give it. Still though, if I were speaking to another publishing student who wanted to land a publishing internship, I think my main piece of advice would be to be excited about every new opportunity, and let that excitement show to those around you. Be excited about your classes (even the assignments that make you groan at first). Be excited about internships that are out of your comfort zone but give you insight into aspects of the publishing industry that you didn’t know much about before, etc. When you let yourself be excited about everything, you learn so much and meet so many cool people, all of which propels you on your journey.

What do you wish someone had told you about publishing when you were entering the industry?

Honestly, I’m still actively entering the publishing industry, so I try to heed every piece of advice that I am given. Maybe in a decade I’ll have a better understanding of what advice turned out to be the most helpful.

What helps you focus when you’re working?

Listening to music and/or a podcast while I’m working helps get me in the zone.

What skills have you taken from previous jobs to help you do your work at Beacon?

I’m the social media manager for ENSPIRE Magazine, which acquaints me with various social media platforms. I took what I’ve learned building a brand, designing graphics, and writing social media copy for ENSPIRE to my work for Beacon. At the same time, I’ve applied what I’ve learned from Beacon Press to what I do for ENSPIRE.

What other departments does your department interact or collaborate with? And how?

One of the cool things about working in the marketing department is that it really acts as the intersection of so many other departments. We bring together all the hard work that editorial, design, and financing has done to finally get the book we’re so excited about out into the world!

Favorite thing about Boston?

My favorite thing about Boston is the city’s rich history and how it is infused in the day-to-day bustle. I love that I walk through the oldest public park in the country, historic graveyards, countless meeting houses, and battle sites on my route to get my coffee on any given afternoon. Every building in the city feels like it’s been upcycled to fit modern life (including the building that Beacon Press is in).

Favorite food?

Chocolate, which I would argue should be its own food group.

Best vacation destination?

I’ve always wanted to visit Italy.

What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States. The book has already filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about the US government’s mistreatment of Indigenous people and land. I’d love to follow up that read with some other books in the ReVisioning History series, perhaps A Disability History of the United States or A Queer History of the United States

In an alternate universe, what career would you have?

I would probably be studying history, art, or philosophy. But that’s why I’m so happy with my current career trajectory: through journalism and publishing, I get to study all those interesting things and even highlight them for other people.

What’s the next queued song on your music player?

“Mary On A Cross” by Ghost. It’s actually on repeat right now.

Favorite book ever?

Oh, the question that tortures every bookworm with the impossibility of answering it. To narrow it down, I’ll highlight my top three faves from Beacon Press thus far: Homegirls & Handgrenades, Women and Other Monsters, and And the Category Is.

Hobbies outside of work?

Quite predictably, I love reading, writing, and podcasting. When I’m not doing any of those things, I’m probably having a little dance session to my favorite song of the week, learning to figure skate, and plotting to steal—uh, I mean pet people’s dogs.

Favorite song/album/type of music?

I’m a big fan of alternative pop music, so it’s no surprise that my favorite band is probably AJR. That being said, I’m kind of in my indie/folk/acoustic era, so I’ve been listening to Lord Huron, the Lumineers, Hozier, The Oh Hellos, Matt Maeson, all that good stuff.

Favorite podcast?

I’ve been waiting for this question all my life. I love NPR’s Rough Translation, which is a podcast that collects interesting stories from all around the globe. Though it is sadly not running anymore, it’s a timeless gem. I recommend the episodes “Anna in Somalia,” “Radical Rudeness,” “The Refugee’s Dating Coach,” and “American Surrogate.” I credit Rough Translation for getting me interested in podcasting, and now I’m the president of the podcast organization PODS at Emerson. I’ve also made two podcasts of my own (though they’re both fictional rather than journalistic), one of which just won an EVVY-award.

Name three things at your workstation you can’t live without.

(1) My earbuds. (2) My coffee. (3) My favorite pen (I’m a bit of a stationery fiend).

What’s your commute to the office like?

I’ve come to really enjoy my walk to Beacon Press. It’s my time to take in the sunshine, the sights of the city, and the sweet sounds of my walking playlist. These days I’m listening to a mix of Lord Huron and AJR to and from the office.