My apologies, once again, for being absent. Last time I could blame it on my dissertation, and this time I’m going to blame it on settling into working life and the holiday season. You know how it is: it’s Halloween, then November, then before you know it you’re pulling crackers and drinking bubbly before noon. Good times.
Now that it’s February, I’ve managed to re-establish a semblance of a routine and want to get back into writing. I thought it might be helpful for others to write something about my journey into the publishing world, to show that there are many paths into it!
Let’s go back to where the job search really begins: applying to uni. At the tender age of 17, you are expected to make a choice that defines the rest of your life! I was always going to go to university, as I have always been far more academically minded than practical, and I also saw university as an opportunity to gain independence and learn about life in a relatively safe environment. Having little knowledge of what I wanted to do as a career, I went for something I had always enjoyed: English Literature and Creative Writing. Despite this, I didn’t really consider going into publishing until after graduating from university. I remember attending some English-centred career event called something like, ‘What can you do with an English degree?’ and I’m sure they mentioned publishing, but it hasn’t stuck in my mind. To be honest, in third year of university I was so stressed and overloaded with work that all I could envisage was travelling far away and never having to analyse fiction again.
So what did I do in the interim? I got a TEFL qualification and spent a year teaching English to all ages in south-east Spain. It was exactly what I needed, because it gave me the space to consider where I wanted my life to go, which was the world of books. In this job I was also reading and analysing books, but in a different way than I was used to, teaching ESL textbooks in class and figuring out how to use them to engage my students. Using these educational books expanded the world of publishing for me as it illustrated that there were other areas apart from fiction/ trade publishing.
In 2016, the government started giving student loans to master’s students, so I seized the chance and applied. At this point, I had taken a whopping two years from academia, so went for a general English Literature MA to ease myself back in. This decision was very consciously made to put myself in the path of getting into publishing, as I was aware how competitive the sector was. I did my master’s in Cardiff alongside some work experience in local publishers. The first I did two days a week for a few months at an academic publisher, and the other two weeks at a fiction publisher following the submission of my dissertation in September 2017. As well as this, I helped out at some book festivals which gave me a really interesting spectrum of experience in Editorial, Marketing, Production, Commissioning, Sales and Publicity. Everyone I worked with was really friendly and happy to help. I think hearing how difficult it was to get into publishing was a really good motivator, as I really made sure that I was staying up to date with publishing news, interacting with people on Twitter, writing blog posts etc.
I started hardcore applying for jobs during the bulk of my dissertation writing, perhaps June onwards. It helped me take a break and re-focus my mind. I applied to a LOT of jobs. I’m pretty sure I found all of them on Twitter- it’s a great place for publishing chat and people are really supportive. My current job was found over Twitter and I found it whilst I was doing my work experience in September. I was really lucky that the job fitted my unique skillset- the combination of my passion for publishing and my experience of teaching English as a Second language. I do feel a bit jammy for getting a job weeks after finishing my master’s but at the same time I worked really hard for it throughout!
I am going to continue this vein in my next post, which will be a few tips on getting into the world of publishing, including links to really helpful posts from other publishers!