I’ve always loved books, and after spending my school days reading compulsively, writing plays, editing the school magazine and writing endless stories, I went to study English Literature at Bristol University, and then at the University of Manchester.
My first ever job was working in a bookshop (Waterstones Lancaster) and since then almost everything I have done has had a bookish theme: after university I briefly worked for Blackwell’s bookshop in Bristol, before going on to manage the bookshop and gallery at Cornerhouse, Manchester’s international centre for visual arts and film. I then worked for Arts Council England’s North West office, specialising in literature.
Today, I live in London, where as well as my own writing, I also work as Arts Project Manager for reading charity Book Trust. I’m lucky enough to be the project manager of the Children’s Laureate programme, which gives me the chance to work with children’s writers and illustrators including the likes of Anthony Browne, Julia Donaldson and Malorie Blackman. I also manage book events such as YALC (the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention), run book prizes and create materials such as Book Trust’s annual Best Book Guide.
YA Shot is a one-day Young Adult and Middle Grade ‘festival’ taking place in the centre of Uxbridge on Wednesday 28 October 2015, organised by the lovely Alexia Casale. #YAShot will have over 69 authors in a programme of workshops, panels and ‘in conversation’ events (plus book-signing sessions).
There is also a programme of 6 fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops.
Let’s not forget the amazing blog tour that is happening in the run up to the event.
Katherine Woodfine has done a special post for YA Shot 😀
10 top tips for working in publishing
by Katherine Woodfine
I recently realised, to my astonishment, that I’ve been working in the book industry for over ten years! Whilst I’m still pretty new to the business of being an author – my first book The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow was published in June of this year – I thought that for the YAShot blog tour I’d share some of what I’d learned from a decade of working in publishing. Here are my ten top tips for anyone starting out on a career in books:
- Publishing isn’t just about publishers. Shh… don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never actually worked for a publisher. Instead, I’ve worked for retailers (Blackwell’s and Waterstones), an arts centre, Arts Council England, and a reading charity (Book Trust). Don’t forget about organisations like these, as well as others such as literature festivals and literary agencies. Accent Press’s Rachel Kennedy has written a great blog post about how volunteering at literary events can be the first step to a publishing career.
- Publishing isn’t just editorial. When I was at university, if you’d asked me what my dream job would be, I’d probably have said ‘a children’s book editor’ (basically, the next Kaye Webb). In the end my career path took me in quite a different direction – and now I know that being an editor isn’t for everyone. I have so much admiration for my amazing editor, Hannah Sandford at Egmont, but I know I couldn’t do what she does. Work experience at a publishing house can be a great way to explore different roles and see what suits you best – you might find that you really enjoy working in publicity, or that you have a natural affinity for sales. Or then again, you might turn out to be the next Kaye Webb instead…
- Social media is your friend… As well as being a great way of making connections with people in the publishing industry, Twitter offers a really useful channel for finding out about hot topics, trends, and what’s going on in the world of books. Follow people who have the sort of career you’d love to have – it’s a great way to learn more about their day-to-day work.
- … but go to ‘real life’ events as well. I never tire of hearing authors and illustrators talk about their work – it’s endlessly inspiring. Bookshop events are brilliant – for example, Waterstones Piccadilly always has fantastic events that are often free or low cost to attend. Go along to festivals (you could always volunteer) or whilst they can be expensive, conferences offer a good way to learn more about the industry, as well as to meet people.
- Networking doesn’t have to be terrifying. I am so in awe of my friend Katie whenever I go to an event with her. In no time at all, she’ll have chatted with most of the room and made several new friends – all while I’m still getting myself a drink! But even if you’re naturally a little more shy, it’s still possible to meet people at events. Go with a friend (safety in numbers!) and try chatting to someone you recognise, or who is on their own and looks in need of a friend. Don’t be afraid to go up to the author/speaker and compliment them on the event – everyone loves to hear positive feedback.
- Read as much as you can. It might sound obvious, but reading is market insight – and the more you read, the better a grasp on your industry you’ll have. If you want to specialise in a particular area, like picture books or young adult fiction, get to know it in detail. Spend time browsing in bookshops and libraries – which books are displayed prominently and which books are people picking up? Which books are getting lots of buzz online and which are being reviewed in the newspapers?
- Be nice to people. This one really goes without saying – but remember that publishing is a small world. You never know when you’ll meet someone again, so be nice to people you meet and take the opportunity to get to know them. Who knows, in the future, they might be giving you a job… or you might be giving them one!
- Give others a helping hand. One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most from my decade in books is the chance to help others get a foot in the door. Publishing can seem like an intimidating world that’s only accessible to people with the right background and ‘connections’. I don’t believe publishing should be like that, and it’s fantastic to have the chance to help people find their way in. So help others when you can: if you get invited to a great event, can you bring a friend with you who might benefit? If you get the chance to looking after someone doing work experience, what can you do to help them make the most of the opportunity – what would you have appreciated in their shoes?
- Muck in. This one is super important. People sometimes have the idea that publishing is all glamour and sipping champagne at launches, but the reality is that most days will involve less thrilling activities like hefting around boxes of books, sending hundreds of mail-outs or filling out spreadsheets. It’s not just you: this is part of the job. If you’re tackling a really boring task, put the kettle on, get the biscuits out and don’t despair – you’ll be amazed how much you’ll learn from being hands-on.
- Have a go! One of the things I love most about publishing is that it’s a creative industry that rewards people for having ideas and using their imaginations. I’ve loved the chance to come up with my own ideas and make things happen, such as starting up the Down the Rabbit Hole children’s book radio show on Resonance 104.4FM. If you’ve got an idea for something you’d love to do – whether it’s starting up your own blog, or an idea for a project at work that you want to suggest – give it a go! You never know what might happen…
You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store!
Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villains to justice…