Our former intern, Caroline Carpenter, has succeeded in forging a career which combines both her love of writing and love for books. She tells us about her journey to date and gives some sound advice for those wanting to follow in her footsteps…
I have worked at The Bookseller – a trade magazine for the publishing industry – since getting a year-long internship there through Creative Access in 2013. I’m now in the role of Web Editor, which involves carrying out web production duties, including uploading news stories and features to The Bookseller’s website, sending out email newsletters and running the company’s social media channels. I also chair our YA Book Prize, an award for the best book for teenagers by an author from the UK or Ireland. I sometimes write content such as author interviews for our weekly print magazine and website too.
From a very young age, I wanted to be an author. When it came to applying for university, my parents were a little worried about the lack of a clear career path that comes with an English degree (my dad had also studied English at university). They briefly tried to persuade me to continue with Law, which I studied did an A Level in and enjoyed, but were not surprised when I stuck to my guns and they’ve supported my career throughout.
Before landing my internship, I studied English and Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. When I first graduated, I gained work experience in an administrative role. I then did a few placements at publishing houses and as a result, I had the opportunity to write a book (‘A Guide to the Hunger Games‘). After that, I worked in the advertising department of a newspaper company for a year.
It was a bit of a convoluted route to where I am now, but I genuinely believe that I learned valuable knowledge and skills from all of those experiences which help me in my current position.
I was attracted to this role because I have always loved reading and writing, which inspired me to want a career in book publishing. Working at The Bookseller offered me the chance to learn a lot about the trade and to write for a living. From the start, my workmates at The Bookseller made me feel a valued part of the team – in fact, many of them didn’t even realise that I was an intern!
The best thing about my job is that it allows me to be at the centre of the publishing industry and to keep up-to-date with the latest news. I get to attend lots of book launches and events, meet authors (interviewing one of my heroes Malorie Blackman was a particular highlight!) and get sent free books before they are released. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel abroad for work and to speak on stage at events such as the Hay Festival and the Southbank Centre’s YA Literature Weekender. Above all, my work on projects such as the YA Book Prize has encouraged more people to be excited about books, which is incredibly rewarding.
My top tips for people wanting to get into a similar role to mine are:Don’t send out blanket covering letters; tailor your application for each role.
In your applications, try to meet the criteria laid out in the job description and reflect the language used in it. Spend time crafting covering letters and proofreading them. Research the company you are applying for thoroughly before an interview.
Think about what will make you stand out from other candidates, many of whom will also have a degree and possibly some relevant work experience too.
- Whether it’s applying for work experience placements, building up a writing portfolio, working at a bookshop on the weekend, or writing a blog about the books you love, make sure that you show your passion somehow.
- Consider whether you want to do further study. There are lots of Publishing MA courses available at universities across the country now. For journalism roles, some employers require you to have NCTJ qualification.
- Don’t just apply for editorial jobs! Everyone in publishing starts out wanting to be an editor so these roles are incredibly competitive. Publishing companies have a vast range of roles available from HR to publicity so think about what suits your strengths best and don’t limit your applications.
- Get on Twitter – a lot of publishing people are on here and roles are also advertised here (good accounts to follow are @JobsinBooks, @inspiredselection, @pubinterns and @_CreativeAccess, of course!).
In the future, I’d like to still be working in the book trade in a role where I can use my creativity to help books reach more readers. I don’t have a dream job title in mind – maybe I’ll create my own one!
You can follow Caroline on Twitter at @CarolineC1988