Tag Archive | working in publishing

Some thoughts on being ‘good’…

I’m holding my hands up today and saying that this blog is no longer what it had the potential or the intention to be. I started it back in 2015 when I had time on my hands and opinions to express, and whilst I still have the opinions, the time seems to elude me. I regret how downhill my blog has gone in the last year. I wish I had a good enough excuse as to why I’ve only posted a handful of blogs since August 2016, but the reality is I got a job, I moved to London, and instead of having hours of free time on my hands, now I come home from work, occasionally have a social life, and try and fit in watching some rubbish on Netflix.

All in all this should make me a ‘bad’ blogger. But I’ve had some thoughts today on what it means to be ‘good’. Over the Christmas break, whilst I saw so many people on Twitter posting about books they had read or publicists continuing to tweet about their books, I barely read anything and I used my TweetDeck sparingly.

And I thought – does that make me a ‘bad’ reader or a ‘bad’ publicist, just as I am a ‘bad’ blogger? No.

This makes me human.

Over Christmas, I spent time with my family who I miss so much living in London and I got a new puppy (who is gorgeous and deservedly took up a lot of my time). I watched The Crown with them instead of reading. I turned my work emails off because I work hard when I’m working and deserve a break when I’m not. We publicists have a tendency to work overtime, all the time, and I thought that for just this once whilst I was on holiday, I would be on holiday. I mean, my addiction to work emails once got so bad that I was emailing authors on one of the biggest and most important days in my calendar, when I should’ve been with my family.

So for Christmas, I took time for me.

I know that maybe I am a ‘bad’ blogger – and tonight I genuinely considered scrapping my blog entirely because frankly I don’t have the same enthusiasm for it any more, or the time, because (shock horror) I have a life outside of books and publishing, which includes eating meals out with my friends (none of whom work in publishing), spending time with my family (when I can), and yes, binge watching on Netflix.

But I didn’t delete the blog. Instead I wrote this. Because this blog is mine and for me, and I can write on it however I want, whenever I want.

That doesn’t make me a ‘bad’ blogger, a ‘bad’ reader (sidenote: I saw on Twitter some people read 100+ books in 2017. My Goodreads goal was 20 books and I’m pretty sure I smashed that in summer, but I stopped quantifying because it actually doesn’t matter as long as you’re reading and you’re enjoying reading), and it certainly doesn’t make me a ‘bad’ publicist because I put work to one side for the time I was out of the office.

In 2018, I aim to throw these guilty feelings away and be okay with the work I do and the way I choose to live my life, whether that’s blogging once a month (which probably won’t even happen) or saying actually no, I’d rather go and have all-you-can-eat sushi and talk about boys with my friends.

New Year, same me, but accepting that same me is okay.


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.


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.

Working in Publishing (Or, Not Being Able To)

Be warned, what follows is a slightly ranty, extremely exasperated, discussion about working in publishing, or rather, trying to get a job in publishing.

Though I don’t actually work in publishing, I consider myself part of the community. I’ve done work experience, volunteering, attended conferences, been to London Book Fair, and regularly natter on Twitter about the industry. I see so many things about the obstacles facing us ‘bright young things’ trying to get into the industry, and trust me, there are plenty.

Yesterday I was rejected for a job because my ‘background’ didn’t match as ‘closely with [their] specific qualifications’. I have a First in a degree in English Literature and Spanish; I’ve done two lots of work experience at Penguin and Hachette; I’ve written and volunteered for the Bookseller (twice); and now I’m starting to wonder what else I can really do, aside from carving ‘I want this job’ into my arm in my own blood.

Previously I was rejected from a job because they chose a candidate with three years prior experience in the industry. How am I supposed to get three years experience if no-one gives me a shot??

I see so many candidates like me who have graduated and have plenty of great experience and then spend a year interning. That’s all well and good, if you can afford to. I’ve said it before on this blog that I come from what I call a comfortable background, but not comfortable enough to support living in London and bouncing from internship to internship.

Am I so wrong to want something a little more permanent? Or am I being ridiculous thinking I can get that straight out of uni?

How much more do graduates or entry-level candidates need to do to prove ourselves?

And is it acceptable that publishing companies can be so dismissive and expect so much from us when we are just trying to do the best we can?

I think the Spare Room Project is a fantastic initiative, but if we’re being honest that’s more suited to work experience candidates than three month internships.

Us ‘young ones’ have so much to offer and are more than often so passionate about getting into the industry. We just want a chance to show our worth, without having to cut off an arm and a leg to do so.

Also, I feel like it’s not enough these days to just have a good degree, and internships, and that ole desire and ambition. Employers are always looking for more. So on our CVs as well as our 3/4 years at uni and work/experience/work experience, we need to have our volunteering, our blog, our Instagram, our YouTube channel, our this, our that, our anything and everything to make us stand out. But if we all have a blog or an Instagram or a YouTube channel, what will we do next to make ourselves stand out? And is this starting to sound a bit ridiculous? Is it not enough that we are so incredibly passionate about publishing that we would do all these things just for the chance at a job?

I may not know everything about publishing there is to know, but I want to. I want to learn, I want more experience, I want to get involved. This is why I believe there should be more training programmes or graduate schemes offered for entry level candidates. It’s not enough to have entry level positions and then turn us down when we don’t have enough experience. Give us an opportunity for experience.

There aren’t that many universities that offer a BA in Publishing (certainly not the Redbricks), so most of us probably have an English degree, where we’ve been learning about literature not how to publish it, and then go on to do a Masters in Publishing. But I’ve been a student for 4 years, I’m ready to go out into the world of work and learn on the job… but is that enough? Do I need a Masters? Or will a Masters just put off doing a year’s worth of internships for another year?

Publishing is a tough industry. I’ve known that since I started thinking about a career in publishing. But when we’re doing everything we can to get involved, the industry should be able to show us some love back. I’m sorry if this comes off as sounding entitled, which certainly isn’t my intention. I’m just exhausted by the process of applications and rejections. My future feels very fuzzy at the moment and I’m looking for some clarity.

Does anyone out there have a success story? Share in the comments below!

‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’, or – I Finished My Degree!

Cue a very big sigh of relief.

It’s been four years – which I’m finding terribly hard to wrap my head around – but I am now officially a graduand of the University of Birmingham. Note not a graduate yet, but a graduand. When I get my degree on the 6th of July, then I’ll be a graduate.

This week, I’m jetting off to sunny Corfu where I’ll get to spend some quality time with my Kindle, which I’ve really missed in the last few weeks of Spanish grammar and end of uni festivities.

I’ve got a great reading list so far, including Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North. Also think I’ll finally be getting around to reading Asking for It by Louise O’Neill, which if you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I’ve been super-keen to read.

Check back here when I’ve returned from my holiday and you’ll find some reviews of the above and more!

So what can I say about my degree, and indeed finishing it?

It’s been a tough few years, and there have been plenty of times when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel or give up altogether. These last few weeks have been some of the hardest to get through, especially because I’ve been applying for jobs at the same time. In between revision and rejections, I was pretty down and frustrated.

But there is light, there is an end. And I will be forever grateful that I have my degree and that I pushed myself to do it to the best of my ability. I know these days that having a degree isn’t the be-all and end-all of life; it’s true that you can succeed perfectly without one. But to me, having a degree doesn’t just say that I spent four years waffling about Shakespeare and (occasionally) drinking.

It says that I know how to apply myself and how to change myself when necessary to suit what one piece of work requires whilst another might require someone totally different (that’s the beauty of a joint honours degree: writing about Spanish Cinema is a completely different discipline to writing about Chaucer). It says that I know how to read large quantities of work and articles and select the most relevant details; it says that I can discuss my achievements and work with passion and enthusiasm (after all, I am most proud of the two pieces of work I spent the longest on – my dissertations).

My degree says that I am hard-working, flexible, analytical, able to multitask, capable of balancing numerous tasks, and able to do all of this whilst having fun and doing the extracurriculars that uni students deserve.

So the day I get up on that stage for my graduation and become a graduate, not a graduand, will be the happiest day of my life. Not because my degree is over, but because my life with a degree is just beginning.

Who knows where it will take me? Let’s look back next year and find out.

Dr. Seuss knows best.

The Scheme 16!

Hello readers!! As I am now entering the final months of my undergraduate (last week I finished all my formal classes – scary!) my own personal reading is sadly on the back-burner as I devote my attention to dissertations, essays and Spanish Grammar. Currently should be writing an essay on Spanish Civil War poetry but I’m taking a little break to discuss The Scheme 16!

For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, The Scheme is Penguin Random House’s non-graduate scheme, which welcomes any and all individuals to apply, with or without a degree, to become one of their editors of tomorrow, as long as you have the talent.

I first read about the Scheme last year during my year abroad, when it was in its infancy and was a Scheme for Marketers. I knew from last March that I would by applying this year and have been waiting in anticipation to submit my application, which I finally did on Tuesday. *HAPPY DANCE*

The application doesn’t ask for a CV, any qualifications, experience or formal training, which is both exciting and really scary, as we only had four questions to really show ourselves off and demonstrate that we have the skills and qualities that Penguin are looking for.

I’m not going to go into detail about those qualities, but you can find them here if you choose to apply. Can’t quite decide if I should be advocating applications or not… Obviously if this sounds up your street then of course apply, but now I’ve definitely made more competition for myself!

I’m hopeful that my answers made me stand out and that I get through to the next round, which we find out on May 3rd, after which we have 2 weeks to complete a video interview. I really do hope I get though, because it’s so hard to convey my natural enthusiasm through answers of 300 or so words. So keep your fingers crossed for me readers!

Something I do want to talk about it is something that Liv, one of the current Schemers, discussed in a video yesterday about The Scheme. Liv was talking about doing an English Lit degree, which obviously I can relate to, and how in the final stages of your undergrad the endless reading and being forced to read instead of being able to read for pleasure can make you really despondent about reading and really put you off reading.

I know that these days, when I’ve done a full day of studying and reading about Chaucer or the Spanish Civil War, all I want to do is crawl into bed and binge-watch something on Netflix or even watch infinite YouTube videos that have no purpose at all. I can see The Martian, which you’ll know I’ve been reading since February, according to My Long Long List of Books, looking at me saying ‘Read me! Read me!’ but I just can’t seem to enjoy reading at the moment because I spend my life looking at words.

I was so incredibly pleased to hear that working with books re-invigorated Liv’s love of reading and it made me more determined than ever to get a job in books, purely so I can get my love of reading back. I think I deserve that much – don’t you?

And now, I should probably get back to Spanish Civil War poetry, as this essay will not write itself. Do you ever feel despondent about reading even though you know it’s your one true love? Let me know in the comments below!

Incidentally I spelt The Scheme wrong every single time I wrote it here. Better work on that… 

PRH Removing Degree Requirement – Opinion

Penguin Random House announced today that they are removing the university degree requirement from job applications to attract candidates from more varied backgrounds that might not necessarily have the qualifications. I read about this on The Bookseller and after thinking about it all day, decided I needed to put my two cents in.

I think that I’m probably one of the most stereotypical candidates for a publishing job. I’m in my fourth year of a degree in English Literature (and Hispanic Studies JH – please let that make me stand out!), I love books, and I’ve been working tirelessly at building up contacts and experience for the last two years (since I decided that publishing was the thing for me).

I’ve been lucky enough to have two work experience placements with two big names in publishing: Hodder & Stoughton and Penguin General. There are some people saying on Twitter today that unpaid experience is really only available to people from wealthy backgrounds. I definitely wouldn’t say I’m from a wealthy background, but a comfortable one. But my background and my parents’ jobs have nothing to do with me gaining experience. I gained my experience from putting myself out there, emailing as many people at as many companies as I could and proving that I could put my skills to good use. The only thing my background guaranteed me where others might not is that my uncle lives in London so I could stay with him for the two weeks of the year I did experience.

But that’s something that does hold me back, like so many others. I don’t live in London, I can’t spend hours working unpaid with the knowledge I’ll have somewhere to go back to every night. It’s not enough to have an uncle in London because I really don’t think he’d want a 21 year-old living with him for more than 2 weeks. So if you are lucky enough to live in London, make the most of unpaid experience because just by living there, you can afford at least 2 weeks.

The real problem is the unpaid experience and the unpaid internships, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.

I (will) have a degree (by July), which I got not through my background but through student loans and debts and a desire to further my education. I know that’s not an option or a choice for everyone, but it has been the choice for me because of pure academic want, rather than the knowledge that I needed one like you might do for Medicine or Law. But what PRH are saying today isn’t that now people with degrees are “excluded” but rather that the gates are opening for more than just those that do have. So hopefully my degree (along with the transferable skills studying has given me) will be useful when applying, but these days it’s not a necessity.

It seems like a bit of a knockdown sometimes when you read things like this after having spent 3 and a half years working on a degree. It feels a bit like that time I read that ‘English degrees aren’t a necessity anymore’ and I wanted to cry into the Complete Works of Shakespeare. But I understand that it is time to open the doors to something new and to acknowledge that traditional routes aren’t the only routes into the industry.

At the end of the day, I will say that I do believe my degree has been useful, in the main because of the transferable skills and opportunities it’s given me. I have a more analytical mind now than I did at the start of my degree, my writing and communication skills have improved, and I studied abroad in Spain for a year, which I would’ve been unable to do without my degree.

But if you have other experiences and other ways of attaining transferable skills, like these or other ones, there should be no reason why lack of qualifications should hold you back. Like Neil Morrison (of PRH) says it’s about attracting talented people, of any background or walk of life.

So rather than debating whether it’s necessary to have a degree or whether this is a good move, we should be finding ways of building up our skills and experiences in order to put our talents to their best use, whether that’s directly into a job or into perfecting our dissertations (as I should be right now).

Also, there are plenty of ways of getting experience that might not necessarily be traditional; i.e. it doesn’t have to be in publishing house. The wonderful Maria of Jobs In Books (check out her blog Once Upon The Book) taught me that: try bookselling, or admin work, or volunteering. These are all experiences worth having on your CV, which don’t necessarily require qualifications.

So I (will) have a degree, you might not. As long as we both have skills, there should be nothing stopping us. It’s great to see the doors opening for so many people – the harder part is seeing supposedly entry-level jobs that say at the end of the description ‘at least one year’s experience required’. Maybe that’s what we, as an industry, should be tackling next, along with those pesky unpaid internships.

FutureBook ’15

*flexes fingers in preparation for a long, detailed blog*

I was lucky enough to volunteer at FutureBook ’15 yesterday and help out The Bookseller with their biggest conference of the year and the largest digital publishing conference in Europe. I want to start off by saying how grateful I am for the opportunity; I got to work with a great team who all took the time to remember my name and get to know me. In the midst of a conference so hectic and busy, with so many important people, it can be easy for a volunteer to get lost in the crowd but the team at The Bookseller did not let that happen.

I went down to the office on Thursday to help with some preliminary work for the conference, and spent a few hours organising name badges – and name spotting people I was excited to see and hear speak from the industry  – and packing up the last few bits into the FutureBook tote bags. As we all know, everyone in publishing loves a tote bag filled with free stuff.



Friday was an early start at the venue, The Mermaid in Blackfriars, where I arrived at 7.30 to help with set up of organising the name badges that I had lovingly alphabetised and putting the tote bags out on display. When all the other volunteers arrived, I felt a bit like a fish out of water – everyone else seemed to be an MA Publishing student, whereas I’m still an undergrad. But they were all so friendly and willing to have a chat. It was great to hear that there were so many different areas of publishing that people were interested in, including rights, sales, academic and education, and from such different routes to getting to where they are today.

We also had various discussions throughout the day about what we’d heard in the talks or read on Twitter. A particular point of note was our discussion on e-books, following the statistic that 63% of 16-24 year olds have never bought an e-book. I find this shocking in a technological age where we live on our mobile devices. I certainly know that I find my Kindle a life-saver when travelling. However, when I thought about it more, it is true that I much prefer a print book for studying and academic material. Perhaps the discussion is not that pure statistic but considering exactly why 16-24 year olds don’t buy e-books – does purpose (i.e pleasure or education) make a difference?

The early part of my day was taken up with handing out lanyards to the delegates and being a general assistant to The Bookseller team as they were all rushed off their feet. Luckily, I was able to sit in two amazing sessions before lunch: Face out: strategies that work and why, and, Writing the future: author-centric publishing.

This was especially important for me because of my interest in publicity and marketing, which really revolves around successful strategies and keeping the author in the picture. I was tweeting furiously throughout the sessions, trying to note down as much as I could.

For me the two highlights of the sessions were Asi Sharabi from LostMy.Name and Judith Curr, president and publisher of Simon and Schuster’s Atria imprint.

LostMy.Name is a fantastic concept of the personalised book, that takes tech and imagination and creates magic. I know I certainly had a personalised book as a child but not to this scale and genius: one that uses algorithms and other clever ways to really specialise each individual book, to the point where they can even use satellites to pinpoint an image of the child in question’s house and include it in the book.



I know I wasn’t the only one in awe of LostMy.Name; there were plenty of people buzzing on Twitter about it, especially as Christmas present ideas!

Judith Curr spoke about author-centric publishing and highlighted the three types of author and three types of reader: Traditional, Indie and Digital. A Traditional author/reader is one who really connects with each other in a more ‘traditional’ way through print books and dedicated readership. Indie or Hybrid authors build a readership through social media and online engagement, driving sales through word of mouth and an existing fan base. Their readers are largely Gen-Y, who invest not only in the author but deeply in the characters and often purchase books based on their love for the character – which spurned the highly entertaining term ‘book boyfriend’.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 10.56.21

Now, you may scoff at such an idea, but just think how popular characters like Augustus Waters and Edward Cullen are, irrespective of their authors.

The final type is Digital Influencers: those who already have a large following through digital media like YouTube or Vine. Their readers are mainly Millenials who read fiction, memoirs and humour, finding books via social media on their mobile devices.

What was really interesting though was Judith’s introduction of the Crave app, which was just released the other day. Crave is a subscription service app that sends books in bite-sized pieces to your phone or device every 24 hours, with other exclusive content such as messages from authors and characters, making reading even more engaging.

I mean... wouldn't you be?

I mean… wouldn’t you be?

Judith was concise and precise, making her talk (for me) one of the most successful of the day.

After Writing the future: author-centric publishing, we broke for an incredible lunch overlooking the Thames, with a great view of the South Bank. Lunch also gave me an opportunity to catch up with people in the industry that I know from previous experience, like Steph, Poppy and Julia from Penguin General, with whom I did work experience in summer.

After lunch I sat back behind the front desk, giving the other volunteers a chance to sit in on the talks. There wasn’t that much to do by the afternoon so it gave us time to have a nice cup of tea!

The last talk of the day that I attended was The social room: using Twitter and audio for books, with Abi Fenton from HarperCollins and Georgina Moore from Headline, chaired by Jo Ellis. Maria asked me to handle the timings, and it was great to be given that kind of responsibility, even if she did end up handling most of it herself! I especially enjoyed her little sigh as Georgina spoke about have two Twitter handles, which we all know from her personal OnceUponTheBook and the ever-wonderful, JobsInBooks.

It also meant I got to sit on the front row for the session; I loved hearing Georgina speak, especially as I had been so keen to hear her at Hachette’s Insight into Publishing day, which I unfortunately didn’t get onto (though speaking to other students, it seemed like lots of us didn’t!)

Georgina spoke about the importance of having a strong Twitter presence and connect with influencers on Twitter, which can power sales through word of mouth. She also spoke about balancing personal Twitter activity with corporate professionalism, or creating a persona on Twitter. Most importantly, however, it’s necessary to make your visual recognisable including using a smart handle, a recognisable photograph and a great biography. It was such a fantastic, detailed and useful talk, that I felt so privileged to hear because I think that as a publicist (or someone who wants to be a publicist) it’s important to have a social media presence that you feel proud of and that can really drive sales.

She also put up this helpful pic of all the important personal Twitter handles you need to know!

She also put up this helpful pic of all the important personal Twitter handles you need to know!

It was also incredible to go up to her at the end and have her say to me ‘Are you Chloë?’ – proof having a Twitter presence (and constantly live-tweeting) is a valuable way to communicate and brand yourself, making your name known.

Abi’s talk on Audiobooks was also fascinating, illustrating that audio can go places text simply can’t and using the author’s voice can bridge a gap between the reader and the author.

I also loved this idea on Instagram of creating audio clips with images that make up the book cover for Lindsey Kelk’s What a Girl Wants!


And after that, my day was over and it was time to leave with my bag of goodies and get the train back to Birmingham. I’m especially excited by the notebook from BookBub and the pen/screen-cleaner hybrid from Nielsen, which caused a bit of a commotion!

It is, indeed, a screen cleaner.

It is, indeed, a screen cleaner.

Thanks, and congratulations to Blake for organising such an amazing event and thank you so much for letting me be part of it!

Onto the next event!