If you're reading this, you probably 1) love books, and 2) decided at some point in your life you'd like to find a way to transform that love into a profession. There are myriad ways in which the dream can be realized, of course, though the route is often circuitous... on a good day.
No GPS exists to plot your journey into the not-so-fantasyland of writers, booksellers, librarians, editors, publicists and the like. You can, however, drive anywhere, even in the dark, if you have good headlights.
Shining lights just down the road is, I think, what's happening this week in U.K. where the Publisher's Association has been hosting its third annual Work in Publishing initiative "to demonstrate the broad array of jobs available in the publishing industry," the Bookseller noted. The PA partners with online apprenticeships guide Not Going to Uni, graduate jobs website Milkround, Creative Access, the Bookseller, Inspired Selection, Atwood Tate, bookcareers.com and the Society of Young Publishers on activities designed to promote career options in the trade.
I've been intrigued by many things I read this week (Warning: all #WorkinPublishing links are potential digital rabbit holes for anyone interested in this topic), including:
Quarto's "profiles of its young people from various backgrounds, including how they got into publishing."
Advice on "Getting Started: Working Outside of London" from Jennie Collinson, head of sales at Liverpool University Press: "So my advice to anyone considering a career in publishing and has resigned themselves to moving south--don't automatically think there is one path to follow. There's an easier one for sure, but there are rewarding opportunities to be found if you are willing to be patient, work hard and are not afraid of a long commute!"
Quercus editor Emily Yau's answer to a question from the Bookseller: "The best advice I can give is the same for pretty much anyone with at least a toe in the publishing world, and that is to read often and widely. Skills can be learnt and refined along the way, but you can't teach someone to have the right instincts or the right market knowledge. Being passionate about the genres in which you work is a lot more than simply saying 'I am passionate about reading' on your CV. It's about being able to say which authors and publishers you admire, why this is and then being able to identify where this stems from and how you can use that knowledge in your own work. Of course, publishing can be very subjective at times, but if you are well versed in your area you will always have something to offer--something I would stress even more to younger people starting out: forty-something-senior-professionals will invariably have differing worldviews to a twenty-something-intern, and both perspectives are equally as valid."
Five top tips for working in publishing from Cambridge University Press's academic marketing & operations director: 1) Learn about the industry, 2) Understand customers and their changing needs, 3) Get involved in industry events and initiatives, 4) Think digital, 5) Be flexible.
The Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference (#inclusivityconf17), run by the PA and London Book Fair, chaired by the BBC's Razia Iqbal: ".@SharLovegrove touched on a very important point there. It doesn't make sense that an industry whose primary purpose is to invent different stories and have us experience different perspectives, still struggles with creating inclusive workforce's and content." (@KatKrusch)
Sweet Cherry Publishing's Amy Wong, editorial & production assistant: "Remember that doing a publishing internship isn't the only way of gaining relevant experience--for example, running a student society or working in retail can teach you valuable skills as well."
Stephanie Cox, assistant copy editor at Trigger Press, in a Twitter q&a session: "Check, check, and check your application again. Don't call Trigger Press 'Trigger Publishing' in your cover letter, for example. Make sure you definitely want the job you're after. It will be apparent in your application if you don't. Network like crazy."
Answer to a Society of Young Publishers #SypChat question (How did you learn about the different roles in publishing and which one would be best for you?): "Turned up at @EdNapierPublish w/ my red pen after having to choose between it and the creative writing masters, blissfully unaware of the eight bazillion roles that I was about to find out about until I received a smile and instructions to present on a marketing campaign #sypchat." (@sj_mooney)
And, finally, this: "In honour of #Workinpublishing week, thought I would share my first step on my career ladder working with #books..." (Maria Vassilopoulos, whose day job is in sales at @BL_Publishing). In a blog post headlined "Christmas Temp paying the gas bill," she wrote something that will resonate with many of us: "So sometimes taking a leap of faith in the right direction is worth it. That is the actual no-frills way that I got a job in a bookshop, not because I had thought of all the amazing things about working in one, but mostly because I needed to pay the gas bill. Otherwise, I may have looked at the offer in front of me and thought that I was too good for it. I am very glad that I went with my heart rather than my head."