Archive | September 2016

Journey to Employment

I am beyond delighted, excited, thrilled, overjoyed, and any other euphoric superlatives you can think of that this week is my first week of work in publishing!

And as you’ll know if you read this blog or follow my Twitter, that this has not been an easy journey – in fact at times it has been terrible. Of course, it is not easy for anyone going into publishing, one of the most notoriously difficult industries to get into. And yet, I daresay you will not find a more determined bunch of people trying to get in.

I want to document my journey here, with no frills, and pure emotions, to demonstrate the realities of getting a job in publishing and to show you that with tenacity and determination, it is possible.

(no names of companies I applied to will be mentioned nor names of their employees)


The preliminaries 

My first insight into publishing came in 2014, when I was lucky enough to do two weeks work experience in the Marketing department at Hodder & Stoughton. I fell head over heels immediately for the industry and knew this was where my future lay.

I followed this up with two weeks at Penguin General the following year, before finishing my degree in English Literature and Hispanic Studies.

Throughout my final year, I nurtured my blog, volunteered twice for the Bookseller, and kept my toes in the publishing water by being active in the community on Twitter.


The journey 

I began my applications on the 26th of April 2016 (which I remember because it was the day I handed in my final dissertations). My job was offered to me on the 16th of September 2016, which makes a total of 143 days of applications, interviews and rejections.

The process began quickly; I sent in the first application on the 3rd of May and was invited the very next day for an interview on the 10th of May. It was a job I was terribly excited about and, understandably, I was devastated when I got that first rejection, because it had appeared to be going so well.

What followed was a phone interview with another company, who then rejected me based on my not being able to start straight away (I had to finish my degree, of course) and then a very long dry spell.

I made the huge mistake of rejecting an interview for a 6-month internship at a Big Company, because in my words I was ‘looking for something more permanent’. What could have been more permanent than a brilliant paid internship at a leading publisher? I was naive and still thinking I could walk into a job following my graduation.

I began documenting my applications at the end of June/beginning of July on an Excel spreadsheet – which really helped because it made my applications really clear to me, especially the dates of application and when the position closed.

As we know, lots of companies don’t respond to your applications after 2 weeks if you’ve not been successful, so having a spreadsheet helped me to keep track of these closing dates to know if it had been 2 weeks and I should just give up waiting for the email.

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As you can see, it was a very long process, with lots of red (and brown, which was when I made those assumptions that I had not been accepted).

At one point I had two interviews in one day for internships, and when I was rejected from both of these, I began to panic and wildly sent in applications for anywhere and everywhere (including fashion brands I was not particularly enthusiastic about), and speculative applications where I could.

I began to realise my applications would only be good if I was really passionate about the position, and to stop wasting time sending such half-hearted applications. I also realised that if I believed in myself, other people would too, so I followed advice I had been given at London Book Fair, to apply for positions that on paper I might not be qualified for (such as those asking for 1 year’s experience). It could not hurt to send in an application and see where it led me… and it led me to my job.

Eventually, I was lucky enough to get a chance and someone decided I was good enough.


So is the point of all this?

  • Don’t give up on your dreams
  • It will happen
  • If you believe in yourself, someone else will
  • Treat every application like it’s the one you will be hired for
  • Be proud of your achievements
  • Life is what you make it
  • (Other clichés)

As the great Miley Cyrus once said, it’s a climb, but the view is great.

Happy to read CVs and Cover Letters, and always to talk about our experiences.

Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes & Between You and Me – Lisa Hall: Comparative Review

Doing something a little different with the blog this week! I recently read two books that I thought were quite similar in premise: a domestic abuse story, so I decided to do a comparative review of the two (even though at this stage, I’m still not really sure which I preferred).

The two books in question are Into the Darkest Corner (IDC) by Elizabeth Haynes and Between You and Me (BYM) by Lisa Hall, and they are terribly difficult to review without giving spoilers away, which I will aim to do.

Blurbs 

Into the Darkest Corner

Catherine has been enjoying the single life for long enough to know a good catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic, spontaneous – Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell. But there is a darker side to Lee. His erratic, controlling and sometimes frightening behaviour means that Catherine is increasingly isolated. Driven into the darkest corner of her world, and trusting no one, she plans a meticulous escape. Four years later, struggling to overcome her demons, Catherine dares to believe she might be safe from harm. Until one phone call changes everything. This is an edgy and powerful first novel, utterly convincing in its portrayal of obsession, and a tour de force of suspense.

Between You and Me

They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened…

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.


What I like about both books is that they have a compelling dual narrative; IDC uses a dual-time narrative, whilst BYM has a dual-persepective narrative. I think this keeps the reader on their toes and keeps the story engaging at all times.

I felt that the abuser in IDC was more frightening and more cleverly crafted, making them more believable and making the story more gripping and powerful. In BYM I felt that the abuser was more of a caricature of what an abuser should be and thus less subtly dangerous.

Both novels had a really solid and engaging ending, which kept the pages turning and kept me focused until the end. BYM‘s ending had me stop for a moment and made me go back and re-read some of the novel to see if I could get my head around it, whilst IDC‘s ending felt a little more satisfying.

I think the premise of BYM was incredibly clever and very well written, to the point that I fully believed what the author intended and was shocked by the ending.

However, overall, I feel that IDC was much better written with more interesting and complex characters and secondary storylines.

I would definitely recommend reading both these books (and Between You and Me is only 99p on Kindle at the moment) and then you can make your own comparisons and decisions on which you prefer.

I think the whole concept of abusive relationship fiction is so gripping and really allows for a deep look into the psychology of characters. What I particularly like about IDC is that through the dual-time narrative it showed the aftermath of abuse on a formerly outgoing, extroverted character, which was a really nice comparison.

So do read these books and prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster in each, and when you get to the end, do come back here and let me know what you think!

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a lovely book by YA wonder Jenny Han, who also wrote To All The Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is about Isabel ‘Belly’ Conklin and her life measured in summers at Cousin’s Beach, spent with her mother, brother Steven, mother’s best friend Susannah (who she sometimes feels closer to than her own mother), and Susannah’s two sons Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly has been in love with Conrad forever, but as the novel starts, Con and Jere finally start to realise that Belly is a girl, not their silly little friend.

It was a sweet little novel; not as strong as Han’s other YA series, but I would still be interested in reading the rest of the trilogy. It’s a coming-of-age novel, but the problem was, I felt like Belly never really grew up. I completely understand that at that age, boys are the centre of life, but her relationship with her best friend Taylor was more interesting and more disappointing. Not to mention her relationship with herself.

I needed Belly to have more self-respect, and stop being so pathetic, and need Conrad to validate her. And maybe that’s because she was the baby of the group, that she began to treat herself like the baby, but she really needed to grow up. Boys are fun, but they’re not everything.

I love a love story, but this felt really half-hearted. Like Belly loves Conrad, but then she loves Cam, but then she loves Jeremiah, but then back to Conrad. Which I know happens when you’re a teenager, completely, but it felt like she loved them because they loved her, not because she really truly did. I didn’t find myself rooting for any couple really, and the conclusion felt so rushed.

I definitely remember finishing it and thinking there were parts I would change or rewrite, but overall it was an easy read, swallowed in an afternoon and that summer novel that is kind of a YA staple. But as beach books go, We Were Liars is infinitely better.

Maybe I’m too old for this kind of book now, but I don’t think I’m too old for good YA. There are some YA books I’ve read this year that were absolutely fantastic, and brilliantly written.

I just don’t think this was necessarily one of them.

So there you have it… The Summer I Turned Pretty – a quick, light, read, that really needed more depth.

What are your views?