(And work with a small independent publisher!)

Photo by Lobna Mahmoud on Pexels.com

Paving the Path
Working with books has been my dream since I was 12 years old. But setting a foot into the publishing world is hard. My postgraduate studies at Edinburgh Napier University in MSc Publishing seemed like a good way to start (my hopefully successful publishing career). 

The course encourages us to find a work placement and get some hands-on experience within the second trimester. 

I searched for a work placement and found an independent publisher. 
The offer came quick! 
I said yes! 
It was meant to be!

Image Credits: SmashBear Publishing

Bring it on
In January I started my work placement with SmashBear Publishing. An independent publishing house based in the UK, founded in 2020. The team specialises in urban fantasy, fantasy, paranormal romance, horror and Sci-Fi.

The experience that the founder and CEO of SmashBear offers us internees is versatile. The team works remotely. So, no coffee runs or copy jobs for us. The team is small, kind-hearted and well organised.

We are offered an insightful look into the publishing process of books: acquisition, editing and marketing are all departments we are able to get some experience. What I enjoy the most is that we get actively encouraged to bring our ideas to the meetings and have an impact on the actual work of the publishing processes.

Trust the Process
We internees started working for the acquisition department first. 

SmashBear’s acquisitions director and commissioning editor gave us the first three chapters of handed in manuscripts and told us to read them and write a report on them. The most difficult task: we had to decide if we think the story is worth getting published. 

Deciding over someone’s manuscript on which they spend months of work was, and still is, difficult. However, after reviewing a couple of manuscripts, I started feeling more confident in making a decision. I also realised that I enjoy working in the acquisition department and I am interested in working as a commissioning editor.

Finding Confidence
After the first few weeks of the first trimester, I felt like I don’t belong in the editing scene. 

I didn’t feel confident enough to work on manuscripts. Finding mistakes and offering advice to authors in terms of improvement seemed like an impossible task for me. I either didn’t see mistakes worth mentioning or didn’t feel like my opinion is “right” or “matters”. 

I tried to focus on other tasks within the publishing field. Perhaps marketing or sales as a future career? 

Working with SmashBear showed me that it is totally fine to have weaknesses and that those weaknesses don’t necessarily mean that I can’t work in a certain field. 
The team is open about their strengths and skills and showed me that I could become an editor if I wanted to, as long as I am confident in myself. Our lecturers told us the same but it is something different if it comes from someone who works directly in the business.

Near the End
I am nearly finished with my work placement with SmashBear. Our last task is to plan and organise a book publication and present it to the whole team. 

After nearly four months with SmashBear, I can say that I realised that there are so many more parts within the publishing industry that I’m interested in. I learned a lot and was able to do some work that matters. I never thought that I would be offered such a versatile work experience and can wholeheartedly recommend gaining work experience from smaller independent publishers. 

Not to say that I wouldn’t have made any valuable experience in a bigger publishing house but I definitely underestimated the impact an independent publisher could have on me. It doesn’t always have to be the Big Five (but they can still offer me a work placement or job if they like!)