Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Cracking Into Creativity; My Road To Publishing - Part 1 - The Disreputable History Of One Sahina Bibi.

So. Where to start? I don’t wish to put anyone reading this into some sort of coma, so I’ll do my best to keep it short, sweet and informative (which may be a task in itself given my tendency to ramble) (as I am doing now) (which I am well aware of yet I can’t seem to stop typing?).

Anyway. So, a little bit about me. I’m 21, going on 22 in 9 days time *gulp*. I recently graduated from the London School of Economics, with a bachelors degree in Criminology and Social Policy. That in itself, is a good starting point for anyone to ask - why on earth are you going into publishing? And I guess it’s also a good place to begin from, to inform you, that a degree in a literary field or creative field may be advantageous when looking to go into publishing - but by no means, will a degree in something else be a hinderance. 

I say that, because it’s pretty self explanatory. As someone with a degree in a field so far removed from publishing that I may as well be a martian, I have yet to be rejected from a job/internship on the basis of what degree I studied. Very few interviews I have been to have even asked - why are you changing career paths from one discipline to another - but rather I have instead been asked - what interests you to join publishing? - a question I’m sure any employer will ask you, regardless of your degree or educational background.

I may as well address the elephant in the room - why am I going into publishing when I studied at an economics university, with a social science degree. I’ve always loved books. Imagine a mini, brown, plait-haired Matilda. I’ve got a reputable and notorious history of reading copious amounts of books from my local library and my school library was my second home. People often came to me when they’re looking for a book to read, and say “Sahina - name me something good to read”. Yet as a kid, a teen and well into young adulthood, I never ever imagined that I’d ever get paid for something I love, something so bookish. Naively, I didn’t even know about the huge book community that existed. That is, until, 3 years ago. 

Imagine this. July - summer of 2011. As a bored, 18 year old, waiting for university to start, I had 3 whole months stretching ahead of me before I had some purpose to my life. I had just been accepted to study Criminology at a top university, because I absolutely loved social science, and especially crime related topics. I chose my degree based on what interests me the most, what fuels my inner fire - and at that point in my life - it was the study of crime and society. I intended to do this degree, finish university, and join the Metropolitan Police or civil services. That was the dream. 

That summer, I sat at my laptop, googling ways to win books, ‘cause lets face it - as a student I was so broke it hurt, and I wanted books to read. I spotted a giveaway on a book blog, and slowly, over the course of a few days, discovered there were endless book blogs that frequently did giveaways. That’s where it began. Within a week, I had discovered the mahoosive book blogging community - all these blogs that talked about books, gave away books, reviewed books and most importantly (to my nubile mind) got free books. Of course - I had to get involved. I set up my own blog. I started scouring my notebooks for reviews for some of my favourite books. I started talking to other bloggers. I entered huge giveaways, I won a lot of giveaways. It was amazing. Suddenly I realised that people got paid for these things. It was surreal. 

Time went on. My blog become my child, and for 3 consecutive years, despite working my ass off at a degree that near enough killed me with hard work, I managed to keep my blog running, with almost weekly posts. Over the course of those 3 brilliant years, publishers got in touch with me, sent me free books for review, wanted me to take part in author interviews, blog tours - just so much. Of course, I make it all sound so easy - set up a blog, write reviews, get free books. I need to stress though, that it’s no walk in the park. I shed blood and sweat to keep my blog going, and I didn’t do it for the free books, but because I loved getting my voice out there on books that meant something to me. It took several months, around 5-6 months I’d say, to get a good social standing on my blog and give it some strength. Publishers recognised passion in my reviews (or so I hope) and got in touch for me to review their books. 

Things also snowball. Some truly fantastic, unbelievable things have happened to me thanks to this very blog. I’ve been invited to numerous book events and bloggers lunch, at Chicken House, Random House, (where I got to meet Audrey Niffenegger and have her sign her new book for me!) as well as Penguin’s Vintage Party. I got free early screening tickets to see The Fault In Our Stars. A soundbite from my review, was actually published in a book called Dead Ends - by Erin Lange. (Published by Faber & Faber). All these brilliant things - because of this blog. By the end of 1st year of university, I knew where I wanted to be. I wanted to be in publishing. Was I abandoning my dream of joining the civil service? Maybe, but I have absolutely no regrets in changing career paths. I wouldn’t even go back in time and change degrees, to study English. It may have helped, who knows, but the path I pranced along on, is something I would never change. Where does this leave me? Finishing 1st year of university, with dreams of getting into publishing. (I’ll resume from here in my next post). 

So, *looks up and down page* so much for short and sweet yeah? I couldn’t help myself. But there we have it. That’s part 1 of my Cracking into Creativity; My Road To Publishing. Part 2 - The Tremulous Trek To The Top in now up - click the link to view it or just click here. Will it be longer than this post? I’m silently praying it wont (and you should too.) Cheerios for now - there are brownies smothered in chocolate that are waited to be devoured by me. Adios amigos. 

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