Dear loyal readers (if you’re reading this, I mean you) thank you ever so much for sticking with me on this mini-journey that has spanned 3 posts and countless paragraphs of my rambling. I do hope that up until now that you have enjoyed reading about how I came into publishing and can put the information to some use. The previous 2 posts, Part 1 - The Disreputable History Of One Sahina Bibi, and Part 2; The Tremulous Trek To The Top can be found once you click the links.
I know there’s been a huge gap in between the last post and this one - apologies on that as life gets in the way. But alas, here we are! Today is the final post in my mini series and I’ll be rounding off with my own experience at Hodder & Stoughton, an imprint of Hachette publishing, where I was lucky enough to get 2 weeks work experience in the marketing department. I should say before I start, that some details on what I did may be somewhat vague, but that is purely for confidentiality reasons, as the work I undertook whilst there and some of the information I was privy to, is something that I cannot and will not share.
I guess I should start with how I came across this slot itself. On twitter, I’ve been following tonnes of publishing related accounts, and publishing companies, which will often tweet of openings and vacancies when they become available. I would recommend following major publishers and smaller ones even, on social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook as they are more frequently updated than actual careers pages on their individual sites.
It was on here, I saw on Hachette Careers twitter feed that they had a slot for work experience for 2 weeks in their Marketing department for Hodder and Stoughton. I checked the details and sent off my CV and cover letter, without much thought, as at that point, I had been sending my CV and cover letter out, left right and centre to any and every opening. I had previously applied for a 6 month internship at Hachette; I managed to get through 2 rounds of interview, but sadly wasn’t selected as a finalist for the role. Alas, not to be deterred, I sent my CV off to this slot.
Few days later, as I was routinely checking my inbox at the crack of dawn, I spotted a reply back from the social media coordinator who said they loved my CV and fresh approach in my cover letter and wanted me to come in to work with them for 2 weeks! As you can tell, I was over the moon and couldn’t stop smiling. This was my first experience in a publishing firm, and Hodder & Stoughton at that - a publisher which produced books from the likes of JK Rowling and Jodi Picoult - 2 of my absolute favourite authors - and I was going to be working there. Crazy.
Let me skip ahead and get to the actual placement. Hachette headquarters in itself is a stunning place. A 16 story glass building with a staggering view over London, with a glass elevator which I took on my first day. During my 2 weeks there, I did a tonne of tasks, from administration things, to promotion, mailing out proof copies, picking out quotes from books for banners, proof reading, uploading content to their website, sitting in on meetings of various types. These meetings were seriously surreal - they talked about sales of current books, what new ones need to be pushed, sellers they need to target, titles they’re waiting for from the US and authors. I soaked in every last detail I could, it was a very corporate side to publishing which I had never seen - but was spellbound by it and loved sitting in on them.
I was also in the publicity department for a couple of days, helping them create banners and showcards (a totally new experience) for many of Jodi Picoult’s tours to promote her new book. They also have 2 ADORABLE dogs who belong to 2 publicists there, and they just sit there, chilling, being all cute and whatnot. They were so so beautiful, just sitting at my feet while I worked and stroked them.
I did a whole host of other exciting things, as well as some administration and data related tasks - some may see that side as boring, but it’s a vital part of the department and I was more than happy to do anything and everything - don’t be disheartened by doing small jobs, people will well and truly appreciate you doing them. I know the people who I worked with thoroughly appreciated me doing them, as they apologised so many times for giving me something boring but they also thanked me countless times for getting it done for them. Every little helps. Also, I didn’t limit myself to just working under the people in charge of me - whenever I had a free moment, I went over to other people in the office and offered my help to them for anything at all - and they were thankful for my assistance. It makes a good impression to be willing to do anything and also always offering. It’s all noted and appreciated so that the opportunity to help anyone and get as much out of the job as you can. Also, don’t be afraid of asking questions - I thought I knew a lot about the publishing industry, but asking questions there opened up new areas of work that I never really thought about - and I’m sure that’ll be valuable knowledge for when applying for other publishing roles. Having a working knowledge of the industry you want to go into is a bonus that can help you often stand out from other candidates.
I guess the highlight of my role whilst there, came during the last 3 days there. I got to attend an author launch party in the building, where Morgan Kass, author of 100 days (edit info) came in to talk about her new book and share some sparkling drinks and nibbles with us! Also, on the last day, I shared a lift with Graham Norton! Crazy, I know.
Here’s a quick recount of what happened.
So. Graham just happened to drop by the office to do an interview on his new book that we're publishing. I was just about to head to lunch, the office was almost empty, yet walking down the corridor I spotted the life-size Graham cut out that was living in the office, had been moved to the middle of the corridor. Intrigued as to why, I moved forward and peeked into the room on the right - and sure enough, Graham Norton was inside with a colleague, doing an interview. *thus ensues silent moment of fan-girling* I waited till he came outside, saw he was leaving, and headed for the lifts right behind him. Once we reached the ground floor - I thought I'd be a top notch stalker & let him leave first so I can get a sly shot of him but nope - he decided to say "after you" & let me go. So I turned around as he walked away and snapped this.
And lastly, the people I was working for, under the marketing department, were some of THE nicest and passionate people ever, they were forever asking if I was okay and offering me books to take home. Something I declined at first as I didn’t wish to take advantage of them - but during the final few days, when I felt like I had earned it, I asked for a few titles, like the new Jodi Picoult book (!!!) which they kindly let me have, despite the release date not being till next month! I got signed copies of Laini Taylor’s books. Publicity were also kind enough to give me a backlist of all of David Mitchell’s new cover design books and David Nicholl’s new book, Us, before the release date. Other books included 2 of Kass Morgan’s books, all of J.L Arementrout’s books and a handful of embargoed titles that don’t release till next year! Crazy times. I couldn’t thank them enough for all the books and the amazing 2 weeks I had there - but I brought them a box of chocolates and wrote them a card, as a small token of my thanks which they loved.
And thus I conclude my final post on the road to publishing. I can only hope that you guys reading this have taken away something useful and beneficial in terms of how to approach internships and jobs with a slight hint at what to base your CV and cover letters on. I would like to thank (though they most likely won’t see this) the Hachette team and all the wonderful people at Hodder & Stoughton for having me there for 2 weeks. All I can say now is.. I’ll be back!