Creative Access alum Leanne Nulty began her dream career in publishing in 2019 and has since worked at Pan Macmillan and Simon & Schuster.
Where do you currently work and how did you get this role?
I work in publishing as a junior key account manager at Simon & Schuster Children’s Books. I applied for this role in October 2020 and started in January 2021. I had two rounds of interviews, and as part of my second interview I also did a presentation. They told me I got the job only hours after my second interview, it was a quick turnaround which I was very pleased about!
Tell us about your career journey so far.
Prior to my first publishing role, a Creative Access internship, I had worked a couple of retail jobs, which gave me plenty of transferable skills for the publishing industry. I also completed an English and Creative Writing degree at Aberystwyth University, and a Publishing MA at The University of Derby, though I don’t think a degree is a requirement to get into publishing!
My Creative Access internship was in the trade marketing team at Pan Macmillan, and three months into this position I was offered a permanent role as a sales administrator. I provided support to the supermarket and special sales account managers, and then went on to join the high street team. During this time I also managed some of my own accounts, and this cemented my intention to remain in sales and become an account manager myself. Originally I thought I wanted to work in publicity, but sales surprised me and definitely plays to my strengths and what I enjoy.
In 2021, I joined Simon & Schuster Children’s Books. I handle our relationships and negotiations with WH Smith, the Irish market, and a plethora of special sales (non-traditional) accounts. There are lots of moving parts to each of these key responsibilities, and each retailer has their own bespoke needs. Taking on this role was a big step for me but I have relished the challenges and opportunities it has presented. I’ve achieved a lot in this role that I’m extremely proud of, but I’m learning more and more every day and know there is plenty more on the horizon!
How did Creative Access help you reach where you are today?
I’m extremely grateful to Creative Access for helping me get my foot in the publishing door. However, the support didn’t end when I landed my first role. The team were always there to answer any questions I might have about work life. I’d never worked in an office before, and Creative Access helped me figure out what was expected of me in that environment. They have also helped me discuss things like salary with confidence. I didn’t have anyone in my family I could ask for advice about these things, so guidance was very much welcomed! Creative Access also provided me with a space to connect to other publishing professionals, and this was especially helpful when I first moved to London and didn’t know many people.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?
Ask lots of questions! Publishing can be pretty mysterious and it isn’t always clear how the process works. We use a lot of terminology and acronyms, but are always happy to explain what something means, or why we make certain decisions. I love when people ask questions or want to learn more, and if it’s something I don’t know the answer to, I’m always keen to find someone who does.
Following publishing houses and publishing professionals online is a great way to learn more about the industry and make connections. Who do you think is being targeted by a social media post? How do publishers use social media platforms differently? Are they sharing any exciting marketing plans?
I’d also recommend taking the time to pause in retailers and see which books are sold where. What type of books can you find in a supermarket and how does that compare to a Waterstones? What sort of promotions are running? Can you spot any trends in cover design? Asking yourself lots of questions is important too.
What do you love about your role?
I love how varied my role is. I sell our exciting new frontlist titles as well as diving into the backlist to find creative and strategic ways of using some of our older books. This could involve changing the specification of a book, or creating a beautiful boxset, for example. I also really enjoy presenting our books to retailers. This is a chance to share my enthusiasm for the brilliant books we publish, and get an instant reaction from my buyers. The negotiation side of my role is something I find really enjoyable too. I like working with numbers and driving sales up and I find analysing sales data fascinating.
Finally, I love working on children’s books as this is something very close to my heart. I have the privilege of working on picture books all the way up to books for teens, and these books can make such a huge difference to the lives of younger readers. Whether that is offering them pure escapism, or showing them their own experiences reflected in a story for the first time, the books we publish can really make an impact.