Venturing into the real world with Alban Books

I’d heard stories from students who had interned before; bleak, tea-filled narratives about being chained to photocopiers and blinded by endless Excel spreadsheet grids. Despite this, I was rather looking forward to my placement, although I hoped the horror stories, rather than being a sign of what was to come, were in fact just anecdotes exaggerated to make them good for sharing down at the pub.

I secured my spot at Alban Books Ltd; a sales, marketing and distribution company who provide services in the UK and Europe for seven big US publishers. I started on the 15th March 20

12 and came into the office to be introduced to my desk (I had my own desk!) and my computer (with a personalised email account!!). So far, so good.

My first task was wholly unrelated to hot beverages; in fact it was to write copy for Advanced Information sheets for a list of new autumn titles, the details of which had just been released. In at the deep end, but it was interesting and it got me familiar with the titles I would be working with over the next month or so.

My office duties over the next few weeks varied from A.I. creation to direct mail material/e-Newsletter compilation and design to data entry for Alban Books’ new website that is launching over the summer. It took a while but now my eyes, rather than melting at the sight of an overwhelmingly packed Excel spreadsheet, are now finely attuned to picking out the details I want – this must be what it’s like to be a real grown-up with a marketing job!

The office itself is a great place to work: there are only four others in the office and the banter is great. Topics of conversation range from “Which are better, robots or dinosaurs?” to “Will dressing your baby up like an idiot make them hate you in later life?” while at Easter we had a ‘design your own egg’ competition with lots of felt tips(the raw state the eggs were in made for a couple of smelly casualties!).

The whole placement wasn’t spent in the office though; at my initial interview with the Managing Director, Jonny Gallant, I was given a task that I could really get my teeth into. I had mentioned my love of children’s books and the M.D. suggested I look at the children’s list that they manage, the sales of which weren’t as high as they should be. I was given dummy copies of some new titles and sent on my merry way…into a void with no leads or answers. It was intimidating at first but it got me jamming my thinking cap on my head and straining the ol’ grey cells to think back to those heady days of trimester one and the marketing lessons we’d had at Craighouse campus. I worked my way through the various factors that have an effect on product sales and with a big help from a focus group of Waterstones Children’s Book Buyers I got lots of help with my quandary and was able to bring a lot of good information back to Alban Books. It’s an ongoing project, but one that I hope will have a positive impact on sales.

I’ve had a great time at Alban Books: I’ve learnt a lot about marketing which was the area I was weakest in, in regards to of publishing, and also I’ve had the opportunity to really help the company – a chance that many interns don’t seem to get. I was asked to stay on at the office and I happily accepted – I’ve got a lot of unfinished business to attend to!

For more information about Alban Books and the titles they manage, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook or visit their website.

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