Industry Insights: Avneet Bains
By Leyla Mehmet, Chloe Francis and Elizabeth Guess
For this issue, we interviewed our very own Avneet Bains to find out more about her role as Publicity Trainee at Head of Zeus (HoZ)…
Tell us about your journey into publishing. Was it affected by the pandemic?
During school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but knew that I loved learning and wanted a creative and dynamic career so I chose to study Liberal Arts and Sciences at uni, majoring in History and studying everything from International Relations to Archaeology.
It wasn’t until I attended one of the first Penguin Random House ‘Job Hacks’ that I knew for sure that publishing and comms was for me. Books and exciting ways to convince others to love them too? Count me in! During uni, I did some work experience with an indie publisher, volunteered and worked part time as a social media intern whilst also applying and being rejected for some of the larger work experience/internship programmes.
In early 2020, I joined The Publishing Post amongst other things and applied to roles – I got close but just not close enough. The pandemic meant a lot of schemes that were originally open which I had planned to apply to weren’t. A positive is that I found the publishing hopefuls community and was able to connect with others who shared my passion. I kept going and it was towards the end of last year that I applied for the Publicity Traineeship at HoZ. I’d only had some PR experience beforehand but plucked up the courage as I felt I had a lot of transferable skills. Lo and behold, I went and got it to my utmost shock, and now I’m six months in!
What are your typical responsibilities?
Roles can vary and so can the range of duties depending on the size of the publisher. At HoZ, my duties can range from general admin, such as managing the inbox and data entry, to scheduling social media posts and working on campaigns. This essentially involves drafting press releases, researching the genre of books I am working on and pitching to different publications. I also organise blog tours and I am often interacting with book influencers.
How has starting your role and working virtually been?
It’s definitely been an interesting experience! Usually in an office you can always pop your head in if you have a question, so learning over video call, email and chat has been a challenge but something I think I've taken in my stride. I've been really well supported by my team who have been amazing (shoutout to Kate and Lauren!).
What have you enjoyed most about working in publicity?
I think what I have enjoyed most is developing my skills and finding coverage I’ve pitched for land in publications – you sort of get a bit of a buzz, and for me every single piece means a lot.
What key skills do you think are necessary for a publicity role?
Time management and prioritisation are key. You will be dealing with different people internally and externally and need to be reactive to things that may change your schedule as you work to deadlines. Being able to effectively write copy is also something I think deserves more of a spotlight. It’s not only relevant to publicity but other departments as well. I need to write copy when I’m pitching, but also when summarising meeting notes. In editorial, you might be writing a synopsis or corresponding with authors and agents. In sales, you may be communicating with potential clients, so knowing how to write in a short and effective way is really important.
You are also a bookstagrammer (@avi.d_reader). Please tell us a little more about this. What have you found works best for you?
I’ve been on bookstagram for just under a year now and I’ve really loved interacting with other readers, discovering so many great stories and thinking of creative ways to capture a book. What I’ve found works best for me is to post at my own pace. My best tip is to just post what you’re passionate about and don’t worry about the algorithm too much!
If you could give two pieces of advice to a publishing hopeful, what would they be?
1. Quality over quantity. Don’t bulk apply to roles/departments you know you ultimately don’t want to be working in. Enthusiasm and passion can get you far and being selective in what you apply to is something I have found has really helped me.
2. Think about your skill set, and how it can transfer, and highlight it – you might be surprised just how relevant it really is! You were a student ambassador? Multitasking, communication and leadership! A barista? Time management, prioritisation and customer service!
And finally, are there any projects you are working on at the moment that we should be looking out for?
I’m currently working on a new project with fellow publishing hopefuls Leyla and Jennifer. It’s a new bite-sized bookish newsletter which we’ve dubbed The Bookmarkers. Our first issue is coming out at the end of July and we can’t wait to share it! You can find us @thebookmarker5 on Twitter if you fancy having a read!