In past seven months on the Edinburgh Napier Publishing MSc, I’ve learned so much: skills in design and editorial, personal and professional development, developing a more comprehensive understanding of the publishing industry, as well as taking advantage of placement opportunities here in Edinburgh. However, the decision that has had the most significant impact on all of those elements was becoming a member of the Scotland chapter of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) back in September.
While I may not have attended many casual mixers (social anxiety and general fatigue don’t usually put me in the party mood), I have gone out to workshops, events, and the annual conference in February 2019. At each and every one I learned so much. As you can imagine, for these reasons alone I would recommend joining the SYP, and if you are looking to get into publishing, I would suggest seeing if there is an SYP group in your area.
Most beneficial has been my involvement in the SYP Mentorship scheme. In the application, I outlined which areas of the industry I was interested in and what I ideally wanted from the mentorship and, lo and behold, a few weeks later I was accepted and connected with the fantastic Juliet Ewers who is the group associate publisher at Orion Publishing.
Since Juliet is based down in London, we mainly operate via phone and email, which has been excellent. I was nervous before our first call since I didn’t quite know what I wanted to say, but Juliet was so welcoming and friendly I soon relaxed. Now, I look forward to getting to discuss my latest thoughts and queries about publishing and my professional development.
A point of particular delight was the opportunity to visit the Orion offices in the Hachette UK building at Carmelite House when I was down in the South for the 2019 London Book Fair. The building looks like an amazing place to work, with books EVERYWHERE, and a rooftop view over the Thames to die for. Alongside my little tour, I also got to sit down with Juliet in person; we went over my most recent CV, talked about the publishing industry and what I’m planning to research for my dissertation, and just generally had a lovely chat. Finally, to wrap up an amazing visit, I was allowed to take some free books away with me which is always a win in my book (pun intended).
The SYP mentorship scheme and, by extension Juliet, has been of such huge benefit to me and I still have several months left to go. It gives me the chance to talk to a senior publisher about this industry I’m just entering, someone who can provide a professional eye to check CVs and cover letters while I’m still getting the hang of it, and, in the least mercenary way possible, ideally becomes a long-term contact within the industry.
At several panels and talk I’ve attended, such as the How to Get Into Publishing and How to Get Ahead in Publishing panels at LBF19, people have recommended finding mentors when you’re a young publisher and I absolutely agree. Whether it’s a short stint of shadowing or a more formal and extended mentorship, it is always advantageous to find people you can learn from. I definitely recommend the SYP mentorship scheme (and the SYP in general) as a fantastic chance to grow as a person and as a publisher, which is really all any of us are trying to do, isn’t it?
If you are interested in learning more about the Society of Young Publishers and what they do, their website can help you with that.