Industry Insights: Interview with Meggy Rousell
Tell us about your journey into publishing.
Growing up, I had no idea working with books was possible. After secondary school, I went to study Law; I enjoyed it, but something was missing. The first step I took in the right direction was to switch to English studies. English was a passion of mine and I decided to listen to my instinct. I realised later that although I loved the language, I would never be a teacher. A rough time in my life made me seek comfort in books again, and I discovered the book blogging community. One year later, I enrolled on a Publishing course in France and never looked back.
What’s it like being both Editorial Assistant and Marketing Assistant?
I love it! Working with independent publishers is great because you’re not attached to just one side of the publishing process. Being the Editorial and Marketing Assistant means I can be part of the entire journey of a book. There is nothing more exciting than reading a submission, then playing a part in the manuscript becoming a book. I can voice my opinion, I will be following edits, I might proofread while creating a marketing campaign, sending out proofs, and scheduling a book tour. I wear many caps and the challenges are exciting.
How did you tailor your application to suit both areas? Did you have any experience that was relevant for both?
During my Publishing course, I interned with Orenda Books, a London-based independent publisher where I learned about every aspect of publishing. Later, I worked with Fledgling Press – another independent publisher – where I was on the submissions team. This enabled me to gain experience in different fields which I could refer to in my cover letters. I didn’t know everything, and I still don’t, but I was able to show what I knew how to do and what I wanted to learn.
What are your top tips for applying to independent publishers? Is there anything to bear in mind when applying?
Independent publishers are amazing to work for, but you have to have a taste for multitasking and teamwork, so any example of this must appear on your application. Do your research. Indie publishers have a lot to offer, but they want to know you’ve done your homework. Follow them, follow their authors, check their campaigns. Keep in mind they have a smaller budget and fewer people on their team than big publishers, so find a way to tell them how you are the best candidate to help them reach their goals. Make it personal.
What does your typical day look like, if there is such a thing?
No one day looks the same! This is the beauty of publishing. Yesterday, I spent my morning on social media, sharing news, preparing visuals, and launching the Red Dog Press book bloggers sign-up form, then I enjoyed a great Zoom meeting with one of our authors to plan for their book launch. I finished the day answering emails and adding information to the Nielsen database. I have a list of tasks for each day and week, but I leave room for the unexpected.
What advice would you give someone looking for, or just starting, their first role in publishing?
Don’t compare yourself to others. Stay ‘you’. Publishing needs diversity, so you don’t have to like the same books as everybody else.
Don’t be scared to say you don’t know. I found that most people are ready to help if you just ask. Reach out and keep an open mind.
Don’t give up. We often hear authors say it took them years to finally be noticed and see their book chosen. It is the same here. Entering publishing is difficult, but not impossible.
Are there any key skills or experience you feel is beneficial/necessary to have before starting? Do you know of any software publishing hopefuls can access?
For me, curiosity is the key. No one expects you to know how to do everything, but it is vital to show you are ready to learn. Check what publishers look for in their job ads. Pick something and read about it. There are excellent online courses to help. I love Coursera and have used it to discover more about Digital Marketing. There is always something to do, and publishers are looking for people who are proactive.
Word is a staple. I am so glad I learned how to use it for my edits when I was a student. Excel is another given. I hate maths, but we use it for many different things, so it’s worth taking an hour to learn the basics.
Who do you follow on Twitter that would be good for our readers to know about?
The Bookseller (@TheBookseller), Sam Missingham (@samatlounge), Ellie Pilcher (@ElliePilcher95), and Ain Chiara (@AinChiara), just to mention a few.