By Leyla Mehmet, Elizabeth Guess, Kathryn Smith and Aimee Whittle
For this issue, we interviewed Katie Holland to learn more about her journey into publishing and her current role as a Marketing Assistant at Oxford University Press.
Tell us about your journey into publishing. How did you start out? Did you always want to be in academic publishing rather than commercial? What are your main responsibilities as a Marketing Assistant?
Like a lot of people who want a career in publishing, I began with an English Literature degree at the University of Edinburgh. However, I was always a bit unsure of how to get experience, as I am from Belfast and now live in Scotland. At the time, a lot of the providers of work experience were based in London, so I kind of always thought of working in publishing as an unachievable dream.
However, when I graduated in 2020, the world of publishing began to look a bit different due to the fact many companies were opening up for remote workers. I began to apply for positions whilst doing some freelance marketing internships and roles at start-up businesses.
Admittedly, I didn’t know a lot about academic publishing until I did a bit more research after taking the Get Into Publishing course by Heather O’Connell, on a sponsored place. I realised that a lot of the marketing activities in academic publishing are actually quite similar, so I decided to broaden my horizons and apply for academic as well as trade positions. I’m so glad I did!
As a Marketing Assistant, I work as part of the UK Higher Education department, focusing on the promotion of Science and Social Science titles. I am responsible for a variety of tasks; I create a lot of emails, but I also create social media and website content too. Recently, I even worked on managing a webinar to promote one of our titles. I also help manage some goodwill initiatives, such as our student panels and our teaching awards, which is really fun!
What is it like working for a publisher based outside of London? How do you think publishers can support greater regional diversity within the industry?
I’m grateful that I have been allowed to continue working remotely, and once we go back to hybrid working, I will still only be required to go to the office 1–2 days a month. I’m thankful I can finally have the career I want without needing to sacrifice my personal life!
I really like how Hachette have opened a few regional offices across the UK. I think that is a step many other publishers should take in order to achieve true regional diversity. If not, offering remote working should be an option!
What advice would you offer to aspiring publishers who are interested in going into marketing?
Any experience is good experience – it doesn’t just have to be in publishing! During my time at university, I had a market research call centre job, and I know that those who have interviewed me were interested in that due to the experience it had given me with collating surveys and consumer feedback. I always knew I wanted to go into the marketing side of publishing, so if you are the same, I really recommend you get any marketing experience – it doesn’t just have to be in publishing.
I also recommend that you read around the marketing industry and keep up to date with marketing trends, as the industry is always changing!
Tell us a bit about your bookstagram @what.kt.read. What kind of books do you like to read and review? How did you build up your followers?
I started reading a lot more than usual during lockdown, so I created my account to review what I was reading. I also thought starting a bookstagram would be a great way to keep up with the industry. Since I knew I wanted to go into marketing, I thought it would be a great way to gain social media experience. I built my following mainly by being consistent and engaging with other people on the app. I have made so many friends online that I have now met in real life, and discovered so many books I’d never even heard of!
Do you have any tips for publishing hopefuls who may want to create their own bookstagram accounts?
Consistency is key! Also, be yourself – don’t just read what everybody else on your timeline is reading. I personally love accounts that review lesser-known/underrated titles and I would love to see more of that. Also, don’t put pressure on yourself to read all the time so that you can have more content to post. There is more to life than just bookstagram!
What are your most highly anticipated reads for 2022?
Dance Move by Wendy Erskine and The Raptures by Jan Carson! They are both Northern Irish women, and I have read a few of their short stories which have been brilliant.