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)
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.
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.
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.