The week after London Book Fair

So, last week was amazing and exhausting in equal parts. After 3 consecutive London Book Fair days, I had a day of respite on Friday, before an Indian wedding all day on Saturday.

I’ll be honest, having taken some time out this last year or so to re-energise and re-focus, I’ve been feeling concern about ‘making the right choice’, whatever that may be. The tricky thing is – there isn’t a ‘right choice’! And there’s no way of knowing what something will turn out like, or feel like, until you’re kinda there already. So for me, it was reassuring to hear that no one really seems to know what they’re doing, especially when first entering the industry. I mean – how can you know what something is, without doing it?

This is why I’m now embracing the prospect of work experience. Nancy Adimora, a previous trainee on Harper’s BAME scheme, describes it best here: “The primary purpose of the traineeship is to give you an opportunity to learn”. I mean, this is what work experience is all about, right?

Anyhow, here’s what’s been happening this week:

Following up on connections made
I made sure to follow-up via email or Twitter (as I felt appropriate) to folks I met over the course of LBF, or that spoke on a panel. The recruiter in me is used to ‘following up’ like this, and I – as usual – just tried to be honest in my interactions, whether it was a simple ‘nice to meet you!’ or ‘thanks so much for your honesty when speaking on yesterday’s panel!’. Everybody loves a lovely email. I mean, who wouldn’t? (see below for more here). Similarly, Twitter is a platform where publishing folks are at. If an email feels uncomfortable/too formal, even a quick “thank you” tweet or DM can go a long way.

I visited Hachette HQ
One of the ladies I emailed was a lovely one who works for one of Hachette’s imprints. She was a panellist I’d seen in the week – and she told me that I was the only person who had emailed her and followed up. She was so generous with her time, and gave me some great advice. Though there isn’t any physical room to take on an intern at this time, she said she’ll keep me in mind if something arises. Her imprint is one I’d love to get experience at – the books they publish are cool, they are fairly new and the team seems really cool.

More applications + emails
So the advice I’ve been hearing, including from the lady at Hachette, was just to apply, apply, apply. I guess this sounds obvious – but it’s not until recent days that I’m feeling more confident in publishing as a prospect, and about my own experience/abilities. I’ve probably sent out more emails/applications this week than I have any other. Still not heaps of applications, but I’m definitely stepping it up and getting there. I’m trying to just “do” before the self-doubter/critic/perfectionist in me takes hold and tries to stop me from applying.

What’s happening next week?
More meetings
I’m pleased to say I’m meeting a couple of other publishing folks next week, in Marketing and Editorial respectively. One of these was introduced through a mutua contact, and the other was someone I met after a Church service about 3 years ago, and somehow remembered she worked in publishing as well as her name and surname! (I think I was connected with her on Facebook previously, so her name managed to stick). A meet is more effective than an email exchange, or even a phone call, and again I’m hoping to see where these conversations might lead – who knows, one of them might just lead to getting some experience. I’m waiting to hear back from a couple of others, too – so the diary is nicely filling up for me.

Literary Bingo
Having joined the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) a couple of weeks ago, and then met a couple of new friends at LBF who are also going along, I snapped up one of the last remaining tickets for the ‘Literary Bingo’ event next Thursday evening. At £3 for a ticket as an SYP member, an absolute bargain. I’m looking forward to having more fun and conversations – and maybe, just maybe, leaving with a book or two. I hear that all of the titles have numbers in them, apparently…

More applications
I am intending to ride this current wave and keep sending out both applications and emails. After all, it is always going to be a numbers’ game to some extent, and I mustn’t get too complacent. I’m itching to get in now, so I just need to make it happen.

“Get a job in publishing” course
I’ve literally just found out in the last few minutes that I have a free ticket for The Literary Consultancy’s “How to get a job in publishing” event, which would ordinarily cost £150. It came about as a girl I met at LBF (Jessica) is now unable to go, and I just happened to see her tweet… the two days look fabulous, and I’m sat here right now feeling very fortunate indeed.

Onwards! ✨

PS. In other news, I spotted Afua Hirsch on the bus this week… she looked busy, so I scribbled a note out for her on the bus and gave it to her. She followed and DM’d me the next week to say thanks! #MajorFangirl

by Jas

✏ Written: Friday, 20th April 2018 @ 11.01am & 1.32pm

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