Industry Insights: Khadija Hassan
By Avneet Bains, Leyla Mehmet, Chloe Francis and Elizabeth Guess
For our latest issue, we spoke to Khadija to learn more about her role as Sales and Marketing Assistant at Sweet Cherry Publishing...
How did you get into publishing and how did the pandemic affect your job hunt?
My journey into publishing was quite a long one! During university, I was intrigued by how publishing worked. I was invited to Hachette’s ‘Inside Story,’ an in-depth overview of the different roles within publishing and how books are created. I fell in love with publishing and did everything in my power to try and land myself a role. Pre-pandemic life was tough in itself with no one getting back to you, rejection after rejection and wondering if publishing was the right role.
I can’t believe I am saying this, but the pandemic actually helped me! It gave me the time to rethink everything and put myself out there. Summer 2020 was where I really made changes, creating a Twitter page solely dedicated to landing myself a publishing role and speaking to a lot of people!
Sweet Cherry Publishing is an independent children’s book publisher. Did you always want to go into children’s book publishing?
Getting into the publishing world was my first priority and so I wasn’t too fussed about which department I worked in. As I researched the difference between children’s and adult’s publishing, I was fascinated to see how different they were. I’ve worked with Sweet Cherry for six months now, and with every passing day not only have I learnt something new, I have also begun to grow within the publishing sector and feel confident. The one thing I noticed and enjoyed in children’s publishing was how creative you can be with producing posts or running ideas through team members. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with such fun and fresh books.
What does your role entail?
The one thing I was warned about when I first entered publishing is admin! And boy is there a lot of admin work! As a Sales and Marketing Assistant, I spend my time sending off emails to clients (domestic and international), making sure they have the most up-to-date books in our catalogue. I also liaise with retailers, ensuring they have the correct ISBNs and price for books that will be coming out, this is usually done three months prior to publication.
For the marketing side, I put together a social calendar of what to include on our social media, as well as writing blog posts. I also make sure the AI’s (advanced information sheets) are ready to send out to bloggers.
What do you like the most about working in publishing and specifically in children’s publishing?
I love that I can talk about books! It has been mind-blowing to see how the process works, from the pitching side, right to when the books have been turned from a PDF to a physical copy. It is also a great day in the office when the latest book has come out and you can more or less finish it in one sitting!
Working in children’s publishing has been an amazing insight and I really love interacting with likeminded people, as well as searching for the new trends and platforms that would help take our books to the next level.
What advice do you have for publishing hopefuls right now? Is there anything you wish you had been told before starting your role?
The one piece of advice I would give to publishing hopefuls is to not give up! Publishing is very hard to get into and it can be heart-breaking getting rejection after rejection, or not getting any replies back. Take a break in between each application and remind yourself you deserve that role.
I would have loved to have been told how difficult it would be to land myself a position in this industry. Whether finishing university or applying for an apprentice role, I think it has been downplayed how hard it is to get through the CV and cover letter stage, but also how terrifying it is to sell yourself in an interview.
Are there any key skills or experiences you feel are beneficial to have when applying for sales/marketing roles? Any events, initiatives or schemes you have experienced that you would recommend?
I tend to find most skills you can learn within the role. When it comes to which skills you need to have, you can incorporate anything in your life and be able to utilise it to fit the role. For instance, during my time in customer service for an insurance company, I learned how to negotiate and inform customers what they were signing up for. With this, I was able to give an example of how this might fit sales.
Find your best skill set and give examples of how you think it might be able to help you with the role. You don’t need to have the same skills as everyone else, the publishing company might want someone who thinks outside the box!
I would highly recommend SYP to publishing hopefuls. It is a great platform that allows you to speak to people within the industry. They hold wonderful events where you can ask questions. I was lucky to have applied for a mentorship and actually got it! Ruth and Clare have been an absolute godsend!