London, The Spare Room Project, and Me

The Spare Room Project offers people from outside London who want to do an internship the chance of having a place to stay free of charge for some or all of their time there. To make it even more appealing the people who offer to host work in the publishing industry themselves. It aims to ease the financial barriers that people outside of London may be faced with when taking up an internship opportunity in London, the hub of publishing in the UK.

After not having much luck with finding a placement locally in Edinburgh I turned my sights to London. Countless emails, cover letters, and CVs were sent across every publishing house I could find and just as my hope dwindled Abrams & Chronicle offered me a two-week internship in their marketing and publicity department. After my “OMG YES YES YES” email, only slightly more formal the reality set in. Pound signs flashed before my eyes like I was a cartoon character, as I did my research. Accommodation, food, train to London, the Tube all began piling their costs on my calculator. As the numbers inflated so did my panic. I needed this placement. I needed to gain industry experience. It was my chance to test out my skills from my MSc and to really experience publishing first hand.

Knowing I’d probably left it too late, I applied to the Spare Room Project on a whim thinking I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I continued to scour websites trying to find a hostel that was reasonably priced, had no bed bugs, and passably clean toilets – more of a struggle than I ever really wanted to know.

Just as hope dwindled, an email notification dinged early one morning. It floated into my inbox titled “Spare Room Introductions” and I about squealed with joy. Someone was willing to host me for my first week of placement. Suddenly the pound signs and panic deflated at the prospect of only needing to secure accommodation for a week. But then the unbelievable happened! About a week from my start date, another email titled “Spare Room Introductions” landed in my inbox. I now had somewhere to stay for my second week of placement! It felt too good to be true, suddenly the hundreds of pounds I needed for accommodation were a distant memory, floating out of sight.

My first week I was placed out in Totteridge and Whetstone. It was about an hour commute into Abrams & Chronicle but that meant I could grab some early morning reading, never a negative! I was staying with a lovely family and their two cats. They made me feel so welcome from the moment I arrived, they invited me to join them for dinner every night and again for breakfast. It was so wonderful to know that I wasn’t alone in a hostel eating by myself every night. Instead I had conversation, laughter and amazing home-cooked meals to look forward to every night.

My second week I was transported to the complete opposite side of London over near Stratford. New Tube line and new area to discover. This time, I stayed with a young couple in their amazing newly renovated house, and first time hosters for The Spare Room Project. Once again, I was welcomed with open arms, warm meals, friendly conversations, and invitations to join them in their Netflix watching. What more could a newbie to London hope for? I loved getting to peek inside the world of audiobooks at Penguin Random House from listening to my host and learning something that didn’t come up during my classes.

Without The Spare Room Project I don’t think I would have gotten nearly as much out of my placement. I know if I had been living in a hostel with the constant reminder of pound signs flashing in my head every day, it would have caused constant anxiety and stress. Instead, it allowed me to put all my energy into learning and enjoying my placement and make connections in London as well as the publishing world.

Before I sign off, I wanted to extend a huge thank you to everyone who works on the Spare Room Project to help people like me from outside London have a viable option of completing a placement. As well, a huge thank you to both of my hosts who were so welcoming and generous enough to allow me to stay, and to Abrams & Chronicle for giving me such a great first-hand introduction to the publishing industry. It is such a fantastic initiative and I am so thankful to have gotten the chance to experience it, it made such a huge difference to my everyday life and perception of London and the publishing industry. So please make sure you sign up whether as a host and help someone out!

 

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The Life-Changing Magic of Sending an Email: How I Secured a Placement With CYMERA Festival

As I was scrolling my Twitter feed late last year, I stumbled across an announcement for something called CYMERA. Billed as ‘Scotland’s Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Writing’, the announcement stated that the first-ever CYMERA would run from 7–9 June 2019 and bring a plethora of talented writers to Edinburgh to discuss their work and celebrate all things speculative fiction. As someone who regularly chooses to read about dragons in her spare time, that sounded downright magical. After reading the full write-up about the festival in The Herald the next day, I knew I wanted to be involved. I just needed to figure out how to make that happen.

As CYMERA is in its first year of existence, there were no established work placements or internships in place. This meant that there were no application forms to peruse, no previous interns I could pester, and definitely no established list of dos and don’ts. Frankly, the whole thing was a bit like going on a quest without a map. Or detailed directions. Or a compass. In complete darkness without a single sliver of moonlight to illuminate the path ahead. As such, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I learned while pursuing my placement and going through the nerve-wracking process of composing and sending that first email to a complete stranger. Forge ahead for some tips and Marie Kondo gifs. Continue reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Sending an Email: How I Secured a Placement With CYMERA Festival”

A Glimpse into the World of Travel Publishing

Coming into 2019, I’d successfully completed the first three modules of the MSc Publishing course. The skills I acquired through Publishing in Context, Publishing in Practice, and Fiction and the Fiction Market, strengthened my knowledge of the industry and market research, as well as enhanced my design and editorial skills. I began the Publishing Placement and Professional Development module in second trimester fully confident in my ability to secure a 10-day work placement before the end of the term.

With social media platforms being a free and far-reaching means of advertising for job vacancies, I began regularly searching for work experience opportunities on Twitter using the hashtags #workexperience #workinpublishing #publishingjobs #careersinpublishing. While I admit this was somewhat of an unconventional approach, it is ultimately what landed me my placement with Culture Smart travel guides.

I was absolutely delighted to be offered a spot in Culture Smart‘s marketing and publicity department and looked forward to cultivating first-hand industry experience during my time there. Culture Smart is an imprint of Kuperard, a publisher and distributor based in North London. Among the publishers they distribute for are Harper One, William Collins, Simon & Schuster and Random House. The Culture Smart imprint provides essential information and insight on regional etiquette, customs, courtesies, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors for countries worldwide.

In this publicity and marketing role, I created visual and written web content for the company’s various social media platforms, as well as assisted in launching two marketing campaigns. Continue reading “A Glimpse into the World of Travel Publishing”

London Bound: My Placement at Abrams & Chronicle Books

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When I started the publishing programme at Edinburgh Napier University, the placement module was the one I was excited about and also the least worried about. This might sound weird, because, like most of my peers, I started this programme to get more publishing experience. I wasn’t as nervous about this upcoming placement, however, because I spent last year interning at various publishing houses in the Netherlands and thus already had some experience.

I have been a book blogger since March 2013 and over the course of the fewpast years I have built relationships with various publishing houses within the UK. I have loved reviewing for Harper Collins, Abrams & Chronicle, Bloomsbury, and Bonnier Books in the past; and when the time came to secure a work placement, I sent a few emails to contacts I hadmade through my years of blogging. Two weeks later I secured my placement at Abrams & Chronicle Books in London.

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They sent me a package with six proofs of their upcoming Spring 2019 titles

Although I had not been nervous about the work placement up until that point, nerves seemed to kick in full force the moment I stepped on my flight to London. Continue reading “London Bound: My Placement at Abrams & Chronicle Books”

A Placement at Vagabond Voices

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At the beginning of this course the placement module always seemed exciting, but when the time came to actually organising one, it all felt a bit more daunting. I had no direct experience in the industry, and although you’ve got to start somewhere, getting that first bit of experience is always tricky. It’s difficult to put yourself into a situation where you don’t really know the day-to-day workings of a publishing house and are wondering what you can bring to the table. Of course, as it turns out, I had far more to offer than I thought and those transferable skills everyone talks about really do come in handy.

I secured my placement with Vagabond Voices in December, after having researched the company for a case study the previous trimester. Continue reading “A Placement at Vagabond Voices”

Sales and Campaigns at the Award-Winning Canongate

When I found out that part of our MSc Publishing course involved undertaking a professional placement I was excited and absolutely terrified in equal measures. Although I had completed an Editorial Internship in Paris in 2016, I was really nervous at the prospect of completing a work placement in Edinburgh – the city where I wanted to settle and start my publishing career. I was desperate to make a good first impression and get a foot on the extremely competitive publishing ladder.

Since arriving in Edinburgh in September to start the course I had been researching the Scottish industry and was thrilled to see all the amazing work being done by independent publishers. When I was asked to complete a Case Study as part of a module in semester 1 I knew I wanted to focus my research on Canongate who is a force of nature in the publishing industry. I had already read (and loved) a number of Canongate’s books and admired their determination to seek out and publish ‘the most vital, exciting voices’. Soon after starting my Case Study I heard about the opportunity to join Canongate’s Campaigns and Sales department for a 3-month internship. I couldn’t believe the timing and jumped at the chance! I sent in my application as quickly as possible and was thrilled to be invited for a telephone interview. Continue reading “Sales and Campaigns at the Award-Winning Canongate”

Interview jitters, accosting tourists and a public toilet tour: a few months with The Wee Book Company.

In December 2018 I had a Skype call with Susan Cohen, director at The Wee Book Company, to discuss a marketing and publicity internship position that was due to begin in January 2019. I was nervous, and self-doubt was kicking in hard. What could I possibly offer her, having never worked for a publisher before? However, after about five minutes of conversation I felt eased by Susan’s enthusiastic, understanding and relaxed tones, and I felt nothing but excitement for the upcoming projects. I was delighted to be accepted into the team.

In early January we met at the fascinating yet, as Susan will exclaim profusely, extremely haunted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre for the first time with the whole team to plan and discuss the coming months.

Already I was experiencing new things. Taking a tour of this historic building that I’d never been to before and learning about the variety of holistic work that now goes on there: besides the ghosts in the basement you can get nutritional support, take an exercise class, or even have your own psychic reading from a professional medium! We talked over coffee and cake about the titles coming out this year and the marketing work that would need to be done during our time with the company. Continue reading “Interview jitters, accosting tourists and a public toilet tour: a few months with The Wee Book Company.”