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A Week in the Life on the 'Get into Book Publishing Course'

by Katie Holland

Last week I had the absolutely fantastic experience of taking part in the ‘Get into Publishing’ short course, run by Heather O’Connell. I thought it would be useful to let you know what I got up to on the course, what I learnt and why it's fantastic for those wanting to learn more about publishing. The course was conducted on Zoom for obvious reasons, but this does not detract from its value.

Day 1

The day began at 9:45 a.m. with an introduction from Heather, who discussed the aims of the course and clarified any questions we had. The first speaker was Patrizia on bookselling. It was great to hear her talk passionately about bookselling, and she gave a great insight into all the qualities and skills needed for this career. 

We then took a break and had a talk on marketing. I’m personally really interested in a career in marketing, so I was super excited to hear from Alice at HarperNorth. She presented a PowerPoint which outlined how marketers identify audiences, the types of marketing campaigns that book marketers undertake and the skills needed. We also completed a task which involved working in a group on Zoom ‘breakout rooms’ to come up with marketing campaign ideas for a book. Unfortunately, my slightly broken laptop wasn’t a fan of this and crashed, which meant I missed part of our group’s section (one of those things you have to live with in the world of Zoom courses!) However, I still managed to gain a lot from having a conversation with other members of the group.  

After lunch, we had a talk with Alison David about the children's book market which was extremely insightful. Alison began the presentation by informing us of how the children’s market fits into the overall market and explained the dominating market trends. She also emphasised how important children’s reading is for pleasure, and how it underpins the publishing industry as a whole. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the research she has undertaken at Egmont, especially during lockdown, to show how reading for pleasure should be statutory in our curriculum! 

The day finished with an introduction to audiobooks, a huge area of growth in the industry, by Ellie from Hachette. She covered many areas within audio publishing, including the publishing process, the production involved, and the pre- and post-publication timelines. I didn’t know a lot about audio, so I found this talk particularly informative. 

Day 2

The second day began with a talk on the role of literary agencies by Ella from DKW. I really enjoyed learning a bit more about what agencies do, their role in the publishing process and what happens during book auctions! Our next talk was all about data, as Jaclyn from Nielsen did a talk on the UK book market, the role of data in the industry and the trends of the past few years. It was great to learn how publishers and booksellers use data, and also getting to learn about the book market trends over the past few years, across a wide spectrum of categories. 

Sam and Sim from Pan MacMillan then popped in during the afternoon to tell us about editorial. It was especially interesting to learn that there’s actually quite a lot of business involved in the editing process! It was great to learn about the different types of editing that takes place, and different editorial roles available. 

The day ended with a talk on publicity, and honestly, I was sold by Naomi from 4th Estate. I’ve always been interested in both marketing and publicity, but this talk made me realise that publicity is definitely my thing! 

Day 3

I felt like on this day I learnt a lot about areas of the industry I don’t know much about.

For example, Heather did a talk about production – an area I knew next to nothing about. I also learnt a lot about finance from the COO of Hodder, who taught us all about how publishers make money and how publishing works as a commercial business. We also had a talk on managing editorial from Anna Davidson at Faber (one of my favourite publishers, so I was very excited!). It was great to discover more about the managing editorial roles that were touched on the day before. 

This day ended with an introduction to book design. We got to learn about the process of design and also how design teams work with other departments in order to turn a manuscript into a beautiful book.

Day 4

All of a sudden, the final day had arrived, and I was quite sad the course was nearly over. Our final day began with a talk on rights which I loved learning about. We learnt about how rights are sold, the advantages of selling rights and how publishers negotiate the deals! It’s crazy how books end up all over the world in different countries in different languages, and this is partially thanks to the work done by rights departments. 

Then we had an amazing talk from Helen at Inspired Selection, a publishing recruitment agency, and she told us some amazing tips on how to get that first job. She really took her time to answer our questions, and hearing her tips has really boosted my confidence. 

The day ended with Noel from Granta, who taught us about sales and marketing. We learnt about how marketing and sales work together and also some of the key ‘tribes’ that make up a sales team.

If you’re thinking about a career in the publishing industry, I honestly couldn’t recommend this short course more. I’ve always had an inkling since I was in school that I wanted to go into publishing, but as someone from outside London, I didn’t feel confident that I could ever pursue it. However, this idea in my mind has changed, and I feel more ready to pursue this career path than ever. Thank you so much to Heather for sponsoring me.

You can find out more about the course at @getintobooks on Twitter.



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