Industry Insights: Emmanuel Omodeinde
Emmanuel is an Editorial Assistant at John Murray Press, a division of Hachette UK. Here, he talks to us about his publishing experience and advice for hopefuls.
Tell us about how you got into publishing.
I didn't know much about the publishing industry until about three years ago. I have to give some credit to the Mostly Lit podcast (a literature and pop culture podcast hosted by Black British Millennials). It not only revived my passion for literature, but opened up an entire Black British creative world and showed me that it was possible to exist and succeed in the creative industries as an ethnic minority. I had been using Creative Access to apply for work experience in the film industry (and sometimes journalism) up until that point, but when I failed to get an internship at a film production company for a planned placement year, it suddenly clicked that books were what I loved the most and a career in the publishing industry was possible. So after a summer internship at the indie publisher, Peepal Tree Press, an MA in English and American Literature and attending many interviews, I eventually started a four-month marketing internship last November at 4th Estate and William Collins at HarperCollins.
Did you always aim to enter editorial?
Having loved textual analysis when studying English Literature, I’ve always leaned towards editorial. Something crucial I learned during my internship at 4th Estate and William Collins, in my opinion, was how part of being an editor is being able to see the bigger picture of a book and then executing it as well as possible. Editors more than anyone are involved in every aspect of a book, work with all the departments and are responsible for finding and working with an author. I find that to be an incredibly exciting challenge I'm willing to strive towards.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career journey so far?
Definitely learning to be more business-minded. As much as I might love a story, publishing is a business like any other. Even the smallest indies need prizes and recognition to continue to survive. So, I'm brushing up on my financial knowledge to gain a well-rounded business focus as well as a creative mindset.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job and working at John Murray?
I enjoy working on two very different lists at Basic Books and John Murray imprints. My managers have an incredible array of publishing experience between them and their tastes are similar but diverge in some ways. The opportunity to help to establish a new imprint and contribute to a well-respected one is so exciting.
What does your typical day look like?
My day depends on whichever tasks have the highest priority. Sometimes it's working on cover copy and briefs, which are forms we fill out and send to the production and art and design teams for both the front cover copy and the blurb copy. I also work a lot on updating the TIS (Title Information Sheets) which are crucial for the sales team to sell to retailers but also incredibly important as they feed out through Biblio to retailers' websites. I often work on producing 'costings', which are reports based on numerous details about a book and help us decide how and whether we should attempt to acquire it, as well as coordinating getting the titles we do acquire set up and ready to work on.
What advice do you have for those looking to get into publishing, specifically editorial?
I can't stress enough that you should read widely, including non-fiction. There's so much out there and you're missing out on a huge percentage of roles if you have no interest in it. Look at blurbs and Amazon descriptions of books and make notes on why they worked. Consider what you'd like to commission. But, and this is very important, realise that at entry-level you are also here to learn a lot.
Do you think that running a blog or bookstagram is necessary to help you stand out when applying for publishing jobs or internships?
I don't think it's necessary, but particularly if you're working in marketing or publicity you absolutely should be familiar with the platforms. The same goes for editorial. So many books have started their journeys through Twitter DMs. It's a tricky one but just be aware of them and use the platforms to your own discretion.
What are your top tips for applications and interviews?
For applications, I would say just basic formatting, spelling, punctuation and grammar and a familiarity with what is required of a particular job description. Don't just copy what they want but use any experience to show that you are capable or the right candidate for the role. As for interviews, be curious and professional but show your personality. Speak about what excites you and show them not only that you're the right fit for them, but that they're the right fit for you.