3 minute read
Getting an acceptance letter is always thrilling, and in December 2019, I was offered one of the Career Support Officer roles for the Society of Young Publishers* (SYP) London. Acceptance comes from having ‘the skills’, right?
Wrong. My year with the SYP London Committee taught me just how much I had to learn.
The committee met only once in person before London entered lockdown in March. We moved online and experienced the chaos that comes with joining an organization during a major upheaval.
Let me say this upfront: I’m not comfortable meeting new people, in-person or online, but moving to an all-digital life was my worst nightmare. This is how I’m getting through it.
Social media & online platforms
I was tech literate when I joined SYP, but not tech savvy.
Success on social media (SM) comes from having a message and an audience who wants to hear it. I realized that I didn’t have either of those things, and that’s why I didn’t like being online or using SM.
So I spent all of 2020 exploring and experimenting. The team made online events happen, fumbling our way through. Mistakes (and typos) were made. But the world didn’t fall apart.
Now I can host interviews and workshops on Zoom without flinching. I actually talk and interact with people on Twitter (typos and all). Every day I improve my understanding of design by studying marketing materials. Now I can create more eye-catching event announcements on Canva that I’m not too afraid to post on Instagram.
It sounds easy. It’s not. It takes time, patience, and repeated efforts to get it right. But at least now I look forward to these tasks instead of dreading them.
Everyone dreads networking. But when, like me, you’ve just arrived in the country, are new to an industry, are a freelancer working alone at home, and the whole world has moved online, you’ve got no choice.
Fortunately, my imagination is overactive and talking to people is never as bad as I imagine it to be. To put on events for the SYP, I had to do what I most feared – email people I’d never met to ask them for their most valuable asset: their time.
Who wants to do that while the world is falling apart? There was nothing to do but sit down and write emails. Lots of them.
Luckily, people in publishing are happy to volunteer their time and knowledge. I’m grateful to everyone who was able to say yes. The nos were never personal.
Now a lot more people know me – I’m not just a stranger on the internet. If I hadn’t joined the committee, I wouldn’t be (nearly) cured of my fears: speaking to strangers, cold emailing, interacting with people online.
With networking comes communicating. For most of my professional working life, I’ve been on my own. Being thrown in with a team of nineteen strangers and learning how to talk with them was a challenge, and I got it wrong. Frequently.
I undercommunicated, not mentioning my plans or asking my questions. I thought what I had to say wasn’t important, and the end result was that I sabotaged my own success.
Eventually I started keeping notes about things I wanted to say in meetings, made sure I asked every single question, re-announced events frequently and booked the Zoom account early.
This year helped me become more flexible and I’ve become better at thinking on my feet. I still need to be more assertive in groups and meetings and learn not to care too much about what others think. Got any advice?
My parting advice to anyone joining a team in 2021 is to say everything, and say it loud. Proactively copy people into emails.
Make sure your event information is shared early, widely and repeatedly.
Ask questions. Lots of questions.
Double check all dates. Triple check, actually.
No one on the committee had the year they had hoped for, but as a group we were able to accomplish a lot more than we imagined!
I’m grateful for the team: I didn’t realize how influential a group could be. They have no idea how much they contributed to my growth, and I want to thank them all.
Despite everything, 2020 was one of my best years in terms of gaining new skills and knowledge. When I joined SYP, I was looking to find my place within publishing. I haven’t found it yet, but I’ve been given a peek into a magnificent industry with so many unimaginable opportunities. I’m excited to spend 2021 exploring those options.
*The Society for Young Publishers is a not-for-profit organization for anyone in their first ten years of their publishing career, NOT people who are young.
The great people at BookMachine invited me back this month to share my tips for creating a freelance business. You can read it here, and I'm always happy to answer questions!
I picked up this book at the event BookMachine meets Bloomsbury back in September of 2019. I thumbed through it but felt it needed my full attention, so every morning for the past few weeks I sat down at the table, coffee in hand, and read a chapter every morning before work.
Honestly I wish I’d come across this book sooner. No, let me rephrase that. I wish I’d taken it off my shelf sooner! It’s more of a textbook, and that was actually perfect for me, an editor new to London wishing to learn about the basics of the publishing industry. I often felt guilty at events when I would speak to someone and have no clue about what they meant when they said they worked in production or marketing.
This book laid it all out for me. My understanding of the people, processes, and issues facing the industry has grown substantially, to the point where I now feel I can ask more appropriate questions.
What I want to share about this book is that people interested in publishing should START here. Read through it and see where your interests actually are. I’m an editor, but I was astonished to find that I’m very interested in the digital aspects of the industry. It’s one of those “you don’t know what you don’t know” discoveries.
I've only been in London for a month, but it's time to get started. Bloomsbury meets BookMachine. Christina, Laura and Jamie shared their insights about getting into publishing. Food for thought!
Why does the world need another book blog?
That’s a silly question, so I’ll skip it.
Why am I starting the book blog?
In 2019, I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge at fifty-two books. In hindsight, it was not a good idea. I was amazed that I actually could read fifty-two books in a year and amazed at how much I couldn't remember of all that I read.
Who is this blog for?
First of all, it's for me, to help me remember what I read.
Second, it's for writers, authors, and readers.
I read a lot and I wanted to find a way for authors to benefit from that. I find good examples of different aspects of the craft of writing to share from those books. That way you don't have to read the whole book (but you should!) if you 're just looking for quick examples.
Finally, this is also a blog for readers who aren't sure if a book is for them. I hope to give just enough information to help you decide to pick it up!
What kinds of books do you read?
I even read the US government’s IRS Tax Publications for heaven’s sake.
Do I have time to read another blog?
Yes, entries will be short. Nothing longer than 900 words. I know you don’t have a lot of time!
Will these be book reviews?
No. Plenty of other fine readers and book bloggers and vloggers are doing amazing jobs reviewing books. While I promise not to give away any spoilers, I’m not going to tell you what the book is about—the focus is only what I thought worth remembering.
That’s pretty subjective, isn’t it?
Yes, it is! However, in my daily life as an editor, I spend ninety percent of my time being objective, following style guides and rule books. I hope to be allowed an opinion and some feelings occasionally.
Why are there are other topics on this blog?
I don't live in a black hole and everything is connected!
Editing is my profession, so I read editing and writing books, and I'll share the ones I like.
Technically I work in publishing, a murky, mysterious field that authors and writers can benefit from knowing more about.
I like to be positive, so I'll only share good things about books I liked. All authors works hard on their books, and all take different advice and different routes. Liking a book is subjective. Just because I didn't like something doesn't mean I need to shout about it to the world.
Welcome to my bookshelves!
I read a lot and I hope to help authors with the craft of writing. I share good examples of difficult aspects of writing: point of view, narration, world building and more.
Occasionally I give editing tips and share insights from the world of publishing.
England's Queens: The Biography
Keeping Up With the Editors
Happy Birthday, Poe!
Appreciate a Dragon Day
I Was Wrong – Or What I Learned from a Year on the SYP London Committee
Shortlist of the Best Books I Read in 2020
V for Vendetta
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen
The Mandibles: A Family 2029–2047
The Diary of a Bookseller
The Dutch House
The Uncrowned Queen: The Fateful Life of Margaret Beaufort
Becoming a Writer
Things Fall Apart
Welcome to My Bookshelves!