Industry Insights: Chelsea Graham
Join us in this issue of The Publishing Post to find out more about our founder Chelsea Graham and her publishing journey...
Tell us about your journey into publishing...
I didn’t really consider publishing as a career option until my third year of university. Growing up, I was a real bookworm until time for reading was replaced with studying for exams at school and that was the case until university – despite studying literature!
Once I graduated with my undergrad degree, I applied to do an MA in Publishing out of curiosity. I absolutely LOVED the year and I felt like I got so much out of it! The lecturers were incredible and I felt it really gave me the confidence in knowing what I wanted to do. The year was cut short for obvious reasons but during the extra time I had I started The Publishing Post and then after 280+ applications and seven months of applying for jobs, I started at Happiful in December of last year.
The Publishing Post has been and continues to be a huge success! What inspired you to start this project? Did you think that it would be as successful and popular as it has been?
Not at all! It started out with a random idea one day. I mentioned it briefly to my friend Dominic, the now Managing Editor of The Publishing Post, who I had met through my MA course, it was almost a joke at the time. But I sort of knew as soon as the idea was in my head that I was going to at least try to make it work. When I left my undergrad degree I wanted to learn more about the industry but almost felt a bit lost on where to start, and I also felt that it was quite expensive to attend lots of events and webinars, even though I really wanted to and when I did I absolutely loved them. So, later in the year when I had learned more about the industry and its reputation for inaccessibility, I knew that when I started the project, and as it grew, I wanted to make it free and accessible to everyone who wanted to read it.
I definitely didn’t think it would be what it is now, I had only really thought about creating a small project that included some events, some news, some highlights in the industry etc., nothing nearly as detailed or as frequent as The Publishing Post has become! The same evening I sent out a tweet looking to gauge interest, expecting maybe a few replies. There were lots of people interested and so many of them helped to work out which sections we should have and how it all should work.
Did your role in setting up The Publishing Post help you land your first publishing job? If so, then how?
I think aside from my experience with the magazine publication process, which I was later told was a really big factor in being selected, I was able to show that I was motivated and could work independently. I think now more than ever, with publishers hiring staff to work from home, it is really important to prove to an employer that you can produce work whilst working alone and without the motivation of an office setting. The Publishing Post, like any other project that you have started yourself, can show an interviewer that you will be able to easily transition into the role from your own home!
You are also an Editorial Assistant at Happiful magazine. What particular responsibilities do you have and what skills do you need?
I think everyone always says it, but organisation is probably the most important skill. There are multiple threads to the role: communicating with customers and distributors, managing all of the social media for the magazine, liaising with those who work on the sister companies, collaborating with the design team and editorial contributors to the magazine, managing content on our website, organising competitions, writing book reviews and replying to lots and lots of emails. Each of the tasks themselves do not take up a lot of time but once you put them together on a monthly publication cycle, prioritisation and time management become super important! I think as with other Editorial Assistant roles across the industry, an organised mind and ability to work well under pressure are key skills!
What advice would you give anyone deciding to start up their own magazine or publishing venture?
Just do it! You won’t get everything right – things do go wrong, but it’s unlikely that anyone but you will mind nearly as much as you think they will! Ask for help too! Everyone that I have spoken to since setting up the magazine has been nothing but supportive! It is easy to think that you’re not capable and that others have something you don’t – I still think all of these things at times, but you will create something incredible if you just start!
You can find Chelsea on Twitter at @_chelseagraham