AlumniNews | Hannah Koerner fills her NYC apartment and career with books

Ohio University alumna Hannah Koerner ’17BA interned with two publishing companies as a student. Now she’s living her dream of her working for a book publisher in New York City.

“In college, I got all the publishing-related experience I could through internships at OHIO and summer internships in NYC, then attended the Columbia Publishing Course the summer after graduation,” Koerner says of her path to publishing.

“My first job was in the contracts department of a large publisher, where I negotiated author contracts for a couple years before realizing I wanted to work more directly with the books. So I moved into the subsidiary rights department, where I work to sell the underlying rights to a title—translation rights to international publishers, book club rights to companies like Book of the Month, large print rights, audio rights, and sometimes even film or TV rights,” she said.

Hannah Koerner at a NYC cafe
Hannah Koerner at a NYC cafe

In her role as assistant manager of subsidiary rights at Hachette Book Group, Koerner was able to accomplish what she describes as her greatest career achievement so far.

“One of my goals for 2021 was to connect with more independent publishers in countries where children’s LGBTQ+ fiction isn’t generally published,” Koerner said. “Often, indie publishers can be more willing to take risks on ‘controversial’ books they believe in! Near the end of the year, I sold an incredible young adult rom com about a queer summer camp to a Russian publisher, which was unprecedented for It’s a real joy to make important books available for wider audiences, and to connect with people all around the world who are doing that work.”

“I love sharing enthusiasm for books, so connecting with other readers and imagining new possibilities for great stories is a dream!” she added.

Hannah Koerner in NYC
Hannah Koerner, living and working in NYC

Q&A with Hannah Koerner

Q: What path did you follow to get where you are today?

A: In college, I got all the publishing-related experience I could through internships at OHIO and summer internships in NYC, then attended the Columbia Publishing Course the summer after graduation. My first job was in the contracts department of a large publisher, where I negotiated author contracts for a couple years before realizing I wanted to work more directly with the books. I moved into the subsidiary rights (“subrights”) department, where I work to sell the underlying rights to a title—translation rights to international publishers, book club rights to companies like Book of the Month, large print rights, audio rights, and sometimes even film/tv rights. I love sharing enthusiasm for books, so connecting with other readers and imagining new possibilities for great stories is a dream!

Hannah Koerner spent a summer as an intern at Melville House publishers.
Hannah Koerner spent a summer as an intern at Melville House publishers.

Q: What was your major/degree, and any minors or certificates?

A: I majored in English through the Honors Tutorial College. I didn’t have any minors or certificates but want to give a shout out to the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies program! I took many classes through WGSS and found incredible mentorship and inspiration there.

Hannah Koerner interned with the Ohio University Press.
Hannah Koerner interned with the Ohio University Press.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life?

A: Dr. Carey Snyder inspired my love of modernist fiction and introduced me to almost all of my favorite books during my first couple years at OHIO. It’s because of her classes that I have a whole shelf in my small NYC apartment set aside for Virginia Woolf books! And I could never have tackled Ulysses without her.

Dr. Julie White taught me by example how to remain curious, critical, and enthusiastic about so many areas of life I didn’t expect. I think about her seminar on the politics of friendship all the time still years later.

Dr. Eric LeMay tirelessly encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and experiment creatively (two things I’m very resistant to!), and it’s made me an immeasurably better fiction writer.

I had the opportunity to study abroad in London through a program Dr. Joe McLaughlin led, where I learned so much about how to appreciate literature by experiencing places, visiting museums, and just engaging in a more tangible and unstructured way with art.

Q: Do you still keep in touch with any of your faculty?

A: Happily, yes. And I plan to keep it up as long as they’ll let me clutter their inboxes!

Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”?

A: I remember a morning reading through New Ohio Review submissions and proofreading the upcoming issue where I thought not only, this is exactly how I want to spend my time, but I can actually do this. I worked for NOR as an intern my senior year and Dr. Dave Wanczyk, the editor, passed on a wealth of editorial skills I was lucky to carry with me into the publishing world!

Q: What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

A: Honestly, time management was a big challenge! There were so many classes I wanted to take, and so many opportunities to do interesting work outside of the classroom. I tried to try as many things as possible during my first couple years and then decided to really question what made me feel creatively or academically fulfilled. It wasn’t always what I expected, but I never regretted using that as a metric for where to focus my time!

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

A: The Spring Literary Festival every year! I still can’t believe I got to meet Kelly Link, Colm Tóibín, and Dorothy Allison, among others. What a wealth of incredible writers to get to experience. (And yes, I’m very jealous of everyone who saw Lauren Groff at 2022 festival!)

Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

A: In no particular order: interesting classes outside your major; the aforementioned Spring Literary Festival (even if you have lots of homework that night!); the cherry blossoms near the Convocation Center in spring; New House brunch; the Nelsonville Music Festival in the summer; hiking in Strouds Run; the Pawpaw Festival; learning about Appalachian literature and activism; focused, longer-term research projects (I didn’t appreciate enough how rare it is to have the time & support to pursue them!).

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