Interning for Scottish author, Sara Sheridan

In October I was fortunate enough to start an internship working with Edinburgh based author, Sara Sheridan. Sara writes two historical genres: epic and crime fiction, with strong and independent women being the key to her creative process. Aside from writing, Sara also owns REEK – a feminist fragrance company. Her fragrances memorialise ‘heroic, unapologetic and passionate women from history to the present day’ and has been called the ‘first feminist fragrance’.

Over the summer I took up a one-week placement at Freight Books in Glasgow where I learned publishing basics such as the dynamics of a publishing house, AI sheets, pitches etc. Having done this, I was interested in seeing the industry through the perspective of the creative. Furthermore, I have managed to get a two-week placement in May at Ebury, an imprint of Penguin Random House based in London, and so these placements combined would give me an all rounded insight into the publishing industry.

My placement with Sara Sheridan started in October 2016 and will continue once a week until May 2017. Sara has helped me understand the role of the author and the importance of having a voice online and connecting with her readers through social media and through events.

With Sara’s guidance, I have learned how to:

  • Run the social media account for her Mirabelle Bevan Mysteries (understanding how to fit the character’s voice and approach the audience through social media as well as keeping the account constantly interesting and active). This required reading the five-book series as quickly as possible so that I could take over from the social media account. I was efficient in bringing interest to the twitter account by doing a ‘win a freebie’ competition, which gathered over 60 responses and attracted new followers.
  • Attend author events and understand behind the scenes of author events. I met people from Black and White Publishing, this highlighted the support and commitment provided by publishing houses for their author’s events. I also met employees from Publishing Scotland during Sara’s Book Week Scotland Event. I learned more about behind the scenes of Book Week Scotland as well as different career paths that led Publishing Scotland employees to their current positions.
  • Understand the importance of networking
  • Pitch Sara Sheridan for literary events (write a pitch and cover letter, find contacts for the events/radio and pitch her)
  • Prioritising and publicising, understanding the important tasks over the less important. I have had to balance my placement work alongside my university work, which I have found challenging and stressful at times.
  • Understand the role of the author in the publishing industry. Where the publishers may exploit the authors and how this can be change – supplementing my learning from The Fiction Market course.
  • Understand the importance of being an authorpreneur, create a brand document for Sara. Attend a photoshoot and help select fitting profile photographs for her social media accounts, historical and crime fiction books, for events etc.
  • Research the variety of literary events throughout the UK. From the Hay Book Festival and Edinburgh Book Festival to Suffolk Libraries BookFest.

At the end of the placement I hope to have gained experience from mistakes I inevitably will encounter in the above learning outcomes. I believe these will be beneficial for understanding both the position of the publisher as well as the author.

Furthermore, it will help me problem solve in my future career, how to work around dilemmas. Through the Fiction Market module, we have learned about the difficulties authors face, the average UK income for authors and their relationship with publishers.

So far, interning for Sara has showed me that it is both the author and the publisher who work together to create a brand for the author. The success of the author reflects on the success of the publisher. Throughout the placement Sara has trusted me to get on with projects, giving me guidance and advice when needed. I hope to continue to supplement my theoretical learning from Edinburgh Napier with first-hand experience from interning for Sara Sheridan.

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Author: fkhan38

MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier. Intern to Scottish author, Sara Sheridan. A keen reader and runner - with more effort being applied to the latter...

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