My First Month in Publishing

As it happens, I always wanted to be a vet. And as a box in my parent’s loft will testify, I read practically every Animal Ark book in existence in my quest to fulfil this childhood dream- I was going to cure animal cancer, and probably cat AIDS too. But somewhere along the line between reading Animal Farm aged 10 and a distinctly average Chemistry GCSE, it occurred to me that being a vet was unlikely to be as fun as reading about being a vet, or a spy, or a wizard, or a communist farm animal- stories are amazing, and I wanted to be a part of them!

Twelve years, one English degree and a few work experience placements later brings us to the present, and the end of my first month as Sales & Marketing Assistant at Hot Key Books- or, The Best Job of All Time. Publishing is an incredibly competitive industry to start in, but it is also one of the most rewarding – reading a book so special you literally can’t wait to shout about it to booksellers, librarians, kids and your Gran is an amazing feeling. And as you’d expect, I’ve learnt loads in my first month- so here’s a run-down of a few do’s and don’t’s as a new face in publishing…

Things you definitely should NOT do in your first month in publishing.

  • Eat every cake/ biscuit offered to you. You are no longer a student. Cake is not rationed. Your jeans WILL get tighter if you eat cake every day of the week.
  • Google ‘book porn’ at work. Even if it’s recommended to you by colleagues.
  • When moving to London for publishing job, do not move into a room without shelves. This is a BIG mistake, especially if the creation of shelving is somewhat a mystery to you.
  • Read manuscripts on the bus. Hysterical crying/ laughter will not endear you to the masses.
  • Tell your housemates/ partner/ parents about every single thing you read and how good it was. Try starting a sentence with something other than “I read this a-MAZING book today”. You can do it. Really.

Things you definitely SHOULD do in your first month in publishing

  • Bake lots of cakes. It’s just nice. And if, like me, you are a terrible baker, arrange Waitrose biscuits artistically on a plate.
  • Buy an eReader. Reading manuscripts on my phone for the first week or so has probably injured my eyes forever. My Kindle saves trees AND eyes.
  • Buy a beautiful hardback/ clothbound/ leatherback book. Bragging rights, obvs.
  • Ask questions. Google is unlikely to help here, but your colleagues definitely will- now is the time to find out what on earth those acronyms stand for!
  • Locate post it notes. Use post it notes. But don’t get carried away.
  • Get creative- preferably with a video camera!
  • Visit your local independent bookshop incognito. Have a chat with staff. Hope they received and liked our newsletter.
  • Ditto Waterstones.

Finally, and quite obviously, READ! Keep reading the books you have always loved as well as discovering new ones.

Peace etc.