I did my MSc Publishing placement at Scottish independent, educational publisher Bright Red Publishing.
At first the experience was a bit daunting for me, as I had never actually worked in an office environment before, having worked abroad as a teacher since I finished my BA. The first hurdle to overcome was learning how to answer the phones. A simple task you might think, but made more complicated by having to remember the codes to put people through to different desks, not to mention trying to memorise the ‘list’ and all the discounts to tell customers. Luckily, one of the Directors, John had a help sheet written up, made for a past intern no doubt, which I could refer to when I got lost.
During the first few days of the placement I got used to being in the office, answering the phones and dealing with customers. I also had the chance to read a proposal from an author about a new book, and do some editing for layout of the author’s text. This was really interesting and gave me a much better insight into the development of a text from start to finish; from an author’s initial proposal, to the first draft that is edited and re-edited between the Editors, Directors and the Designer until it is finally perfect and ready for printing.
Apart from editing, the other main tasks that I assisted with were focused on marketing. While at Bright Red I updated the monthly newsletters, drew the winner for the weekly Bright Red Book Draw, wrote sales letters and emails and even cut out posters for display in Waterstones. I didn’t have to do any filing, but I did help to stuff 400 envelopes full of proofs and sales letters to be sent to schools!
All in all, I can say that the internship was an invaluable experience. The team at Bright Red were very welcoming, and it definitely gave me a better idea of the reality of working in the publishing industry, and the kinds of tasks that have to be done on a day-to-day basis. Thanks to this I’ve realised the type of job I would like, ideally, to do, which is to be a Development Editor, enabling me to better focus myself, and my CV.
If I could give some advice to anyone else starting a placement now, it would be not to be shy about asking questions if you’re unsure about something, be enthusiastic about the work and interested in the host company, and of course, don’t forget to offer to make teas and coffees once in a while!