Chronicle Books announced six new appointees to its annual design and editorial fellowships this summer, continuing a long-running program that pairs fellows with in-house designers and editors. New design fellows include Riley Hansen, Stella Kim, and Elizabeth Li, while editorial fellows include Olivia Guimarães-Pinto, Briana James, and Tomi Tunrarebi.
Chronicle’s competitive yearlong fellowships provide hands-on experience to newcomers and career-changers, and frequently result in job offers at Chronicle or other publishers. Fellows for the 2023–2024 cycle earn a salary of $45,000, plus health, dental, and vision benefits. Applications are accepted between January and March, and fellowships start in July.
In a bid to make the fellowships more accessible to diverse candidates, Chronicle’s program acceptances are timed to We Need Diverse Books’ Internship Grant schedule. Fellows have time to apply for WNDB’s $3,000 award, or other funding, to supplement their earnings. Incoming design fellows Kim and Li each received a WNDB grant.
Chronicle received more than 100 applications for three design openings and more than 500 for three editorial roles this year. Like Chronicle, Graywolf Press and Milkweed Editions offer paid fellowships, but most publishers rely on an internship model, and Chronicle hosts short-term internships in addition to yearlong fellowships.
Chronicle creative directors Sara Schneider and Michael Carabetta started the design fellowship in 2003, and Schneider still coordinates the program. “We’re always making hiring decisions based on raw talent,” Schneider said, because many design fellows arrive with a general art school education but with little knowledge regarding book publishing. “This is an opportunity to introduce publishing design to graphic designers, and from there we can talk about publishing strategy, how to define an audience, how to do research around that audience, how to understand the competition.” Schneider looks for applicants “who are able to execute creative visions in a wide range of aesthetics” and who are “comfortable asking questions,” being curious about unfamiliar processes.
Allison Weiner, Chronicle’s design manager, arrived as a design fellow in 2008. “Every year, the current fellows make a poster they send to art schools all around the country,” Weiner said, and she saw that year’s poster while studying at California College of the Arts. Aya Akazawa, then senior design lead at Chronicle, came to CCA to show examples of projects she’d worked on, and “before she was done talking, I knew this was what I needed to do,” Weiner said.
During her fellowship, Weiner worked with creative director Michael Morris and then–senior designer Jacob Gardner, “supporting other designers and having my own projects to see all the way through,” she said. “They were so generous with their time and so positive about the process.” She called the fellowship “one of the fundamental experiences” of her career.
If design fellows tend to arrive via art schools, editorial fellows may be seeking a career shift. “We do get some people straight out of college,” said Melissa Manlove, Chronicle’s executive editor for children’s books, “but our editorial fellowships are really for anybody.” Manlove has coordinated the editorial fellowship since 2019, taking over from art editor Caitlin Kirkpatrick, who launched the program in 2017.
Editorial fellows review editors’ notes on projects, learn to code manuscripts, and participate in team meetings like the monthly slush reading with the children’s group. “The editors involve the fellows in whatever they do,” Manlove said. “Fellows learn about our contracts, our software, the way we look at sales. They write flap copy, catalog copy, launch copy. There are also P&Ls to figure out, meetings to lead, all kinds of stuff.”
She noted that those who “don’t have a high tolerance for email” might be taken aback. “The editing is the best part, working with authors and helping them realize the book of their dreams.”
Chronicle editorial assistant Alex Galou, a former editorial fellow in the entertainment group, said, “I didn’t think I’d be doing so much math.” She dug into “creating P&Ls, thinking about advance and royalty levels, and seeing the numbers in action.”
Galou also used her 2021–2022 fellowship to conceptualize “a homegrown project” that turned into Keep It Down up There! by cartoonist Luke McGarry, which published September 12. “We grew it from the ground up,” she said. She’s since initiated two more projects.
Fellows have been instrumental in 2023 projects, including the nostalgic Behind the Screens (out now), about TV-show floor plans; Rest Easy (out now), a book of calming tips; and a couples’ card titled Continuous Greetings (Dec.), to exchange romantic sentiments on holidays across years of partnership.
Like Galou, quite a few Chronicle fellows end up sticking around. About 30 have been hired into long-term positions over the years, and 13 are current employees. Other illustrious alums include Taylor Norman, executive editor of Neal Porter Books, and Caitlin Kennedy, editor and author at Disney/Pixar. Sometimes an opening arises as a fellowship ends, but even when that’s not the case, “there are plenty of people we’ve wanted to keep,” Schneider said. “We often end up freelancing with them in some capacity.”
“It really is about timing, and we have averaged about one hire out of the fellowship per year,” Manlove said. For instance, fellow Claire Fletcher took an entry-level position at the front desk until another opening presented itself. She’s now senior managing editor in the children’s group. When talented editors and designers want to stay at Chronicle Books, “flexibility can be a good thing,” Manlove said.