Industry Insights: Elle Brenton-Rounding
Elle is the Senior Rights Executive at Little Tiger Group. Alongside this, she chairs the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) London Committee. Find out more about her experiences in publishing...
Tell us about your journey into publishing. What appealed to you about working in rights?
I attended the SYP London Conference whilst at university and went to panels that taught me about rights and agenting. In the same year, I was one of the founding members working on the Kingston University Big Read project, and stayed on for the Publishing MA. I undertook work experience as part of my course which helped me decide to pursue rights. I love negotiation, working with people, travel and other cultures, so it made sense!
What’s your favourite part about working in children’s publishing?
Knowing children are escaping into our worlds and learning, relaxing and imagining with our characters is the best thing. I especially love how kids worldwide can dive into one of our books and just leave the real world behind for a few minutes.
Describe your typical day. Has lockdown and remote working changed any processes?
Lots of emails! I generally do admin in the mornings and split the afternoon into meetings or tasks such as contract-drafting. Lockdown has mostly changed travel - I hoped to attend Seoul and Shanghai Book Fairs this year. I usually do small sales trips too, visiting publishers outside of fairs. The best thing now is electronic signatures; they’ve made office admin much faster!
What skills are necessary for hopefuls interested in rights? Do you think being multilingual is essential?
Rights professionals are good negotiators, can think of the bigger picture and are interested in all areas of publishing. Most importantly, they need to love working with people internationally! Some publishers require language skills but generally they’re more a bonus rather than a necessity, as they indicate your interest in other cultures and countries.
Tell us about your work with the Society of Young Publishers and your role as Chair.
I was Alumni Officer first on the UK committee and wanted to give back as I found my career path thanks to SYP. I now oversee a team of 20 in delivering fun and useful events, workshops and information for our members. This year we’ve gone digital and I have to credit our Co-Heads of Events, Omara Elling-Hwang and Farzana Khan, and their events staff for really taking the lead on this. For the SYP Conference, I had to step out of my comfort zone and design a website, a first for me!
SYP runs a mentorship scheme which has recently closed. What do you think makes an application stand out?
The SYP London scheme had several hundred applicants. Sadly, most didn’t even mention their area of interest (beyond it being their first choice), so avoid using buzzwords without description when writing applications - we know you probably are passionate but how and why are you? What excites you about your chosen area?
As this month’s theme is Disability History Month, can you tell us about any experiences you have of disability/chronic illness within the publishing industry?
I have a long term health condition that is tricky to manage and quite debilitating at times. I am also partially deaf on my left side. Between the two, I have always been cautious when talking about them but sometimes it’s unavoidable. My current employer has been really understanding but a previous one tried to pay me less for needing afternoons off for intensive treatment (despite making up the missed hours on other days). I have been concerned that my deafness would affect my opportunities as I can’t always hear well, but so far so good! Meetings-wise, I try to use Teams or Google Meets for the caption function. At university, the Disabled Students’ Allowance provided me with an invaluable network, so I’m delighted to see new working groups forming at publishers - Ellie Drewry recently created one at PRH and Hachette has one too.
What’s your advice for publishing hopefuls with a disability or chronic illness when applying/interviewing?
It’s illegal to not be hired because of your disability. There’s no need to disclose it at an interview if you don’t want to, but you shouldn’t be judged for doing so. If you do mention it, try to make it relevant to what you can offer the company - your disability has likely taught you a lot. Mine has taught me to be highly organised and prepared. I would advise discussing it once you’ve been hired as you may need extra support or time off for treatment in the long run, and that openness will help you and your company plan for that where possible. Being open can be difficult, but most people will want to support you.
Is there anything you would like to see happen in the future to make publishing more open and accessible?
An industry-wide network for those of us outside the big 5 (LTG is part of PRH but the US office), and more inclusive offices; I’ve worked in several where arriving in a wheelchair or on crutches would be impossible. The rest is societal change in regards to the negative side of disabilities. We already know the negatives, but there are positives…
You can find Elle on Twitter at @_elbr