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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Blogtober #10: Working in Publishing Q+A | #askHBP

Hey y'all. So, I know I said that this would be up yesterday. The truth is, me and my boyfriend bought Thai takeaway and wine and started watching The Cabin in the Woods, and I kind of forgot all about it.
Thank you to everybody who asked me questions on Twitter, and for making my first Q+A so much fun! I'm not planning on doing any more Q+A's right now, but I know that this is something that lots of my online and IRL friends are interested in and that I could help out with.

Oh, last thing, I know that some people might not have wanted to ask questions so publicly on Twitter, which is totally understandable. If you DO have any questions about publishing, feel free to drop me a DM or email me (my email address is in my bio) and I'll do my best to help!
Happy Sunday!
Hannah x

Short answer: three. Long answer: I did two weeks at Penguin Random House in October 2015, then a week at HarperCollins in December 2015, then a seven week internship at Walker Books in May 2016, which led to a temporary job when the Marketing and Publicity Assistant left whilst I was interning in the department.

Okay, well, the good thing to know is that most publishing houses now don't list a degree as part of the person specification for a job. Which is great. I think there's three things that you need to have on your CV to get you a job in publishing. Those three things are: admin experience, work experience in publishing, and a demonstrable love of books. Publishing jobs at entry level (except Design, maybe) are all super admin based, so working as an admin assistant, a receptionist, or a data entry person will all give you those skills. Publishing houses only want to hire people who WANT to work in publishing, not just someone who needs a job, so publishing work experience will help there (and there's loads of ways to get experience - check HarperCollins' Twitter, PRH's Work Experience Facebook page, or just email your CV and cover letter to a publishing house directly - check The Bookseller for a list). A demonstrable love of books can come from nearly anything - blogging about books, volunteering or working in a bookshop, going to launches and events. If you do go to uni, doing English Literature should obviously help!

The free books are definitely a bonus! The publishing house I work for also has it's own bookshop in Covent Garden, and I make posters and showcards for it using InDesign a lot, which is nice and creative. Other than that, it's amazing to be able to work in an industry where everybody is SO passionate about what they're doing.

Okay, I don't work in Editorial, so I had to enlist the help of my good friend and much more experienced publishing person Katarina to help with this one. She said that most publishing houses don't accept what's called 'unsolicited manuscripts' anymore. This means that unless contact has already been made with the publishers from, say, a literary agent, if you send a novel in on spec, it'll basically be chucked in the bin. As for the ones who do make it in - reading them is usually an interns job. The Editors and Assistants are too busy to read them, so it falls to an intern to pick out the good stuff. In theory, yep, the slush pile IS always read, but only the first couple of sentences might be read and then binned, and it might not be for months after you submit.

Either Sanne's job as Social Media Producer at Penguin, or Laura di Giseppe's job, who is the Brand Manager of Tolkein, Agatha Christie and Games of Thrones at HarperCollins. I'm really interested in digital when it comes to publishing, so working on a YouTube channel or blog would be amazing. I currently work in Marketing and Publicity, but I've always wanted to have a go in Editorial. I'd also love to go back to Random House Children's Publishers and work there again! (Okay, so it turns out I have about five dream publishing jobs. Who knew?)

That's it's largely based on people skills. There are so many different departments and they all rely on working together well to edit, produce, market and sell a book. Good communication is SO important. You also have to be a bit bolshy to get what you want, so it might not be the best environment for somebody very shy or quiet. Unfortunately, it's not enough just to love stories (although obviously that's very important too!!)

Maybe working at YALC this year! I got to meet so many online and author favourites, including Louise O'Neill, Anna James, Mariam, Lily and Jim. I also spent the day with Michael Rosen at Walker once, helping out with a signing, who is just the most engaging and hilarious person ever, with great stories to tell. Even when I was doing my first work experience placement, I was in charge of reading through and sending on Dame Jacqueline Wilson's fan mail, which was amazing!

So, I took English and Creative Writing at university. Whilst I was at uni I was the Editor of an online magazine, Hexjam Birmingham, as well as a Student Ambassador, both of which I think helped me get my first work experience placement. When I graduated, I interned at Penguin, HarperCollins, and Walker Books, which I got a temporary six-week job out of. Then when I finished that, I applied to be the Marketing and Publicity Assistant at Pavilion Books, where I now work!

I think this question is more about publishing your own writing, instead of working in a publishing house, but I'm still more than happy to answer it! With blogging, my ideas for posts usually come to me at the most random times of the day. If I can, I'll log on to Blogger and save a draft of just the title of a post I'm thinking about writing, so I don't forget it. When I get an idea I tend to write it pretty quickly, otherwise I lose interest in the idea or it doesn't feel that relevant anymore!
If you're lacking inspiration, tags are always a good way to get to over the blogging hump. Sometimes you'll find that just by writing SOMETHING, you unlock great ideas along the way!

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  1. Great post! I always thought it was weird it was left to the interns to look at the slush pile. Interesting!

  2. I found this blog after a long time which is really helpful to let understand different approaches. I am going to adopt these new point to my career and thankful for this help.


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