Northern:Lite - A Virtual Learning Day for Publishing Hopefuls
The publishing industry is notorious for being hard to get into and it often feels more of who you know rather than what you know. Thankfully, many publishers recognise this and organise various events throughout the year to help hopefuls make connections and gain a better understanding of how to enter the industry. In today’s feature, we spoke to Elsie Granthier and James Mork about their thoughts and impressions on the Harper North Publishing Learning Day. These virtual learning days are hosted for individuals, chosen at random, who have yet to begin their publishing career but would like an insight into the industry. It covers information about the various departments, is a wonderful opportunity to network with professionals and other hopefuls and can even be added to your CV.
Sometimes, just knowing where to look for these events can be overwhelming and discouraging. Thankfully, publishers promote these events regularly on their social media channels, which was how Elsie found this event. “I followed Harper North on Twitter as soon as the imprint was announced and leaped at the chance when I saw this advertised.”
James, on the other hand, heard about it through word of mouth from a friend within the industry who forwarded him the tweet. “I’m very thankful to them for sending it to me.”
Normally, these events are run in person, however, with the current pandemic making this impossible, they moved online. The event was divided into five major segments: Careers Clinic, 1-2-1 Sessions with the Publishing Director, Getting into Publishing, Marketing and Exploring Non-fiction. Both Elsie and James found that throughout these sessions they were able to engage with job applications, industry questions, terminology, day-to-day life, company structures, publicity campaigns, non-fiction commissions, helpful skills, networking, and the history of Harper Collins. Elsie was even fortunate enough to receive a personal phone call afterward to discuss her CV.
The purpose of these events is to provide hopefuls with valuable knowledge they can use to enhance their job search. Elsie’s interest in non-fiction grew and she came away feeling secure in the connections she’d made.
James found the day very useful and left with six pages of notes but found the most value in the confidence he gained.
“The people were extremely kind and helpful with suggesting ways to interact with the publishing community, keep up to date with news, and how to develop skills that are helpful for the jobs I’m after. Before this event I felt very lost, and now I have a good sense of direction and I know exactly what projects to work on and where to look next.”
Of course, there will always be limitations to the amount of information these events can cover on particular topics. Due to the disruptions COVID-19 had on the company’s plans to hire a new fiction editor, Elsie found the information provided to be somewhat limited.
For James, the 1-2-1 sessions felt rushed given the timeframe and found that the quality of the session varied depending on what the person brought to the table. “I didn’t feel like I even knew enough to know what to ask and so I didn’t get as much out of it.”
The positives, of course, outweigh the negatives and both James and Elsie said they got a lot out of the event. Elsie found it helpful understanding more about the day-to-day task. “I was given practical information which has boosted the quality of my applications - I refer to my notes for every application that I do now!”
Similarly, James loved the insight into the different departments as well as the networking opportunities.
“I have networking links with the staff and other publishing hopefuls, and all of the people involved displayed a wonderfully kind and friendly atmosphere that gave everyone the motivation to carry forward after the day was over.”
When asked if they would attend more Harper North events in the future, they both said absolutely. Elsie even went so far as to say, “They won’t be able to stop me from showing up!”
Lockdown meant everyone has had to adapt very quickly to running events online - something the publishing industry has done successfully with a variety of online events running over the past six months. Elsie has tried to attend as many as she can but, sadly, they often clash with work commitments. One series of events she has very high praise for is Ellie Pilcher’s #MarketYourMarketing workshops. Elsie also expresses how accessible and useful these events are. “Listening to industry professionals speak is so much more valuable to me than reading blogs or tweets about the industry.”
In comparison, this was James’s first online event, but he will be on the lookout for more in the future. “These types of events get more people into the industry and benefit everyone involved.”
In a predominantly London-based profession, both Elsie and James agreed that coverage in the North is essential. For Elsie, publishing often feels unattainable and by making events accessible to the North, it is giving a clear message that location does not limit your ability to get into the industry. “It’s encouraging to think that getting into publishing doesn’t necessarily mean I have to give up the North.”
James shares this sentiment and suggests that Harper Collins reaching out could be the start of a trend towards major publishers giving more accessibility to the North.
“I thought that if I wanted to pursue a career in publishing, I’d have to move far away. The online nature of this event will hopefully pave a way forward that decentralises the publishing industry.”
Whatever the future of the publishing industry may be, it is evident that companies are working hard to progress from their traditional roots.
Thank you to Elsie and James for sharing their experiences. Check out their socials below: