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Publishing pointers from our expert panel in Leicester

Creative Access hit the road for the second of three events in partnership with The Publishers Association. Aimed at encouraging under-represented audiences to pursue a career in publishing, we were thrilled to be hosted by the Attenborough Arts Centre at the University of Leicester

First up was Nykhil, who studied languages at University and began her career assisting as a teacher before pursuing publishing. She spoke about her role in the Educational Reform team at Cambridge University Press, saying “you don’t have to be passionate about publishing, but you do need to be passionate about your job.” She continued… “to work in academic or educational publishing you need to be able to hit the ground running.”

Next up was Lara, who found her first role by approaching a guest lecturer on her degree course – who ultimately ended up being her boss at Sweet Cherry Publishing. She was asked about how books get into bookshops and said:  “where your book ends up depends on what you publish. You pitch the titles to the retail buyers and they decide if it will work for them. She went on to say that “there’s less and less shelf space in supermarkets so licensed products – like Paw Patrol, LOL and Numberblocks – get priority.”

When asked about what skills what you need to get into publishing., Lara said: “Don’t underestimate the value of client-facing experience. Sales and rights is all about clients and networking, Any retail or hospitality experience is hugely beneficial. If you work in international sales, be ready for long flights and late nights.”

Third on the panel was Dominic who has been with his company, WFHowes for 19 years and in that time has seen a huge rise in audio publishing, moving from cassettes and CDs to digital. The audiobooks market is growing at a rate of 30% year on year. He talked about the range of roles within his organisation from producing to casting. He is happy to receive speculative applications as long as they are bespoke and well-thought-out.

Former Creative Access intern, Betty spoke of her experiences applying unsuccessfully for dozens of publishing roles. It was only when she changed her approach and started matching the skills required in the role she was applying to with skills she had acquired in other areas of her life (not in publishing itself). As soon as she did this, she secured her internship at Cambridge University Press.

The audience asked excellent questions including about their advice to get into the publishing industry, Lara said: “ Don’t underestimate the value of your peers.” Dominic reminded the audience to make sure you proof-read your CV, and then proof-read it again.” Nykhil told everyone to network and to target people individually who work in the field in which they aspire to work. When asked to highlight their favourite part of the job, both Betty and Dominic said it was the people.

With huge thanks to our brilliant panel for their wise and inspiring words:

  • Nykhil Emanuel-Stanford, Project Consultant, Education Reform Team at the world’s oldest publishing house, Cambridge University Press
  • Lara Clift, Sales & Rights Director at Sweet Cherry Publishing, an independent children’s publishing company that specialises in fiction series
  • Dominic White, Head of Publishing and Commerce at WF Howes, the UK’s leading audiobook, digital services and large print publisher
  • Betty Yang, former Publishing Assistant Trainee, Cambridge University Press

A massive thank you to the Attenborough Arts Centre for hosting us. Stay up to date on our website to hear about our events taking place later in the year in  conjunction with the Publishers Association