My experience as a Floris intern had my head swivelling left, right and centre with excitement at the amazing things each member of each department does. I’d never worked for a book publishing company before, and to be able to get this experience in the first place was a personal highlight in and of itself. I can’t help but add that the Floris office itself is a really bright and welcoming environment with large windows offering views over the city. But my overall enjoyment of the work I was given meant that, thankfully, I didn’t get too distracted by the stunning Edinburgh views.
My time so far on the Publishing MSc has opened my eyes to the beauty of book design, something I’d never really appreciate before. Floris have a wide selection of highly aesthetically pleasing children’s books. It’s something we probably don’t appreciate enough at a young age, but children are lucky enough to experience reading some truly beautiful books. Floris’ selection is no different! When I was asked to help out with social media for Floris’ Elsa Beskow books, I jumped at the chance to read through them and marvel at the beautiful illustrations.
Stepping into the Floris office, I initially had my heart set on either marketing or editing. But I hadn’t anticipated the level of enjoyment I’d find in learning about what everyone does. I’ve been studying toward a Publishing MSc for some months now, but it never ceases to amaze me the level of talent and hard work that can be found in just one publishing house. My heart is still fairly set on these areas, but I now appreciate the wider publishing environment so much more than I had previously.
One of my favourite days in the Floris office was actually spent out of it – at an author event. I had the opportunity to accompany James, the marketing manager, to Waterstones to see one of Floris’ authors, Emily Illett, giving a talk about her new book, The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow. The audience were a group of school children, and it was especially nice to see this age group engaging in a book that they had all enjoyed reading, and burning with questions when Emily opened the talk up for them. I particularly enjoyed Emily asking the group what they were currently reading, and a very young boy replying with Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. It was great, and even a little reassuring, to see their enthusiasm!
During my time in the Floris office I often felt that I’d been trusted with a fair amount of responsibility, which was something I relished. I really enjoyed doing market research for an upcoming title and realised that it was something I was quite good at. I also had a few opportunities to hone my InDesign skills, a piece of software which I’d had no experience with prior to starting my publishing degree. Getting to practise using it in a work setting was especially useful, and I feel far less terrified by it now than I did 7 months ago – it’s actually become one of my favourite parts about studying publishing!
I also loved sitting in on marketing meetings. It’s something I can especially appreciate in the current environment, in which everyone is working from home: it’s so nice to be able to touch base with the rest of the team, and see what everyone else has been up to. It’s great that the technology exists to be able to chat to a team online, via webcam, but there’s something especially nice about everyone being in the same room together. The marketing team were very welcoming and encouraged me to participate in these meetings, rather than just sitting back and listening.
I had expressed to James that I had an interest in editorial work, and he was generous enough to pass this on to Eleanor, Floris’ senior commissioning editor. She sat down with me and talked me through the editing work she does at Floris, and this conversation culminated in me getting some editorial experience, with a book that had already been published by Floris, and then having my changes checked. I discovered that I really enjoyed working my way through a proof and making editorial changes, and that I still hadn’t been put off editing! It’s hard work, but getting to work on a book in such a hands-on way was a brilliant experience.
All in all, my experience at Floris was as good as it was, and I learned as much as I did, because of the generosity of the team. Everyone was willing to share their knowledge with me at every step of the way, and I felt very comfortable from my first day. I started out with a slight fear of the more financial, and probably less romantic, aspects of a career in publishing, but came out of my internship less scared of these parts, and still undeterred.
As someone who has had to work on their confidence in a big way – I’ve verged on being painfully shy in the past – I feel proud of myself for speaking up and making the effort to get to know everyone. I know that I made my experience the best that it could be by asking questions and talking about the areas of publishing I was interested in.
It’s always great to have your aspirations reaffirmed, and know that you’re definitely in the right industry. That’s how working for Floris made me feel, and I feel incredibly lucky to have had that experience.