[Image description: a type writer, with a piece of paper in it. On the page is typed ‘something worth reading’.]
For applicants, experience is a valuable currency in the most competitive job markets. For those looking for employment in the publishing industry, this is most certainly the case. For example, there are over three thousand people in a Facebook group called Publishing Hopefuls, and the anxiety amongst its members is palpable. Clearly, there is a higher demand for publishing jobs than there is a supply, making an already fraught recruitment environment hotly competitive. That is why relevant experience is key: a CV bolstered with direct experience can make a potential recruit far more attractive to an employer.
This is where internships play an integral part. There is, of course, a far wider discussion to be had on the merits and ethics of unpaid internships. Their proliferation makes access to industries more restrictive, potentially only allowing entry to those who can afford to work for free. This is the catch-22 that many ‘publishing hopefuls’ find themselves in: no matter our thoughts on unpaid labour in exchange for experience, unpaid internships offer access to incredibly useful experience. With that said, I am grateful for what I have gained from my current internship.
I am an Editorial and Research Intern at Jasami Publishing, a small and relatively new company based in Glasgow. Having two English degrees, a professional background in financial services and my Publishing MSC underway, I knew that I needed direct editorial experience to move forward into this sector. Having edited financial reports and client communications in a previous role, I was already comfortable with line editing. However, my experience with Jasami so far has given me true insight into how the editing process works.
I am working on a publication due to be published by Jasami later this year, written by one of their authors. Initially, the manuscript required line and developmental editing. I checked the text for spelling, grammar and punctuation but also advised how story devices could be improved to elevate the piece. This process was incredibly rewarding, as my changes made a real difference to the text. Too often in my working life prior to this, I have felt trapped in activities that felt aimless. This was a meaningful process that made a real difference to a future publication. I regularly spoke with Michele Smith, Jasami’s director, who provided encouragement and positive feedback on my work. Rather than being a lonely process, editing can be a collaborative, more than I had originally anticipated.
I also critiqued manuscripts that had been submitted to Jasami by aspiring authors. Here, I had to consider any developmental edits that needed to be made to make the manuscript publishable. Moreover, I also had to think about the text in context of the company; would it fit within the oeuvre of work that Jasami had already published? For a new publisher, it is key to build a brand identity by constructing a unique value proposition by selecting high-quality texts that are metonymic of the company’s aims. Jasami was set up to nurture “exciting new talents”, and Jasami’s angle is giving a platform to a wealth of untapped talent, so this was always top of mind.
I am glad that I have gained real editorial experience. I have proved that I can edit, but I have learned so much more about the process too. Jasami are an excellent company to intern for, and Michele has really helped to hone my skills. Overall, this was an encouraging experience for one publishing hopeful.