When the publishing bug first bit in my final year at university, I was finalising the bibliography of a history essay. In the midst of perfecting comma placement, alphabetising authors and marking the difference between primary and secondary sources, it suddenly struck me that the publishing houses and locations over which I spent so long collecting for each utilised source weren’t merely a means of acquiring marks, but real places in which real people worked each day. This may sound silly now – but at the time it was a lightning bolt moment for me.
However, as I set out with a new, spirited purpose, the glory of independence shining ahead, I soon realised that at university, there was very little in the way of career advice on the publishing industry. Whilst those interested in law, finance, charity work and consulting were courted by companies at career fairs, presentation evenings and even specialised dinners, anyone who showed an interest in publishing had to fight tooth and nail for an overly high-demand session with a careers advisor which provided a crack in the doorway through which we could squint at the content beyond.
After hours of research, countless applications and the initiative to gain some experience at a philosophy press in the city, I finally gained my (unpaid) internship at Oldcastle Books. Over the past year this has become my full time job and it is clear that this is the industry for me. I love it and I’m here to stay.
But this entire process and the decision to enter publishing itself would have been significantly improved had the campaign created by the Publisher’s Association this year been around. The series of video interviews with numerous figures in the publishing industry across a range of roles and firms aims to inform people about the realities of the industry and the qualities and skills required within it. When I was selected to participate in the scheme I was absolutely delighted. It is a cause that is really close to my heart and so I tried to provide as many tips as possible. Our efforts have now been transformed into a rather snazzy series of short videos which you can watch here.
Though I still maintain that the person above neither looks nor sounds like me, I am so pleased that I was part of the #WorkingInPublishing scheme. Even if it only helps one person in their decision to enter this innovative and creative industry, it will have been worth it.
If you know someone who is interested in publishing then I highly recommend setting aside some time to watch these interviews. Everyone who took part gave excellent advice and shared really interesting experiences. Don’t forget also to join the Society of Young Publishers (they have a fantastic event on How to make the most of your Internship at which I’m speaking – eek!), read The Bookseller and Book2Book, keep an eye on what’s selling and just keep going. It’s competitive and believe me, I know it’s tough to get a foot in the door, but once you’re there, you’ll know it was completely worth the effort.