Stephanie Cox is Assistant Copy Editor at Trigger Press and Chair of the Society of Young Publishers North. A Yorkshire girl from a working class background, Stephanie is a big advocate of independent publishers and publishing in the North.
What do you do specifically at Trigger Press?
Officially I work as Assistant Copy Editor. That means I do everything from reading submissions and meeting potential authors to guiding them through the writing process and developmental editing, copy editing and proofreading manuscripts. We publish self-help, memoir and soon, fiction!
What are the benefits of working for an independent publisher?
Oh, SO many! Working for an indie is so rewarding. In an indie publishing house, you get to work intimately with every part of the process. You know everyone in the office. You get to work outside of the boundaries of your official job and learn new skills. It is so much fun.
Also, you get to see on a direct level how much of an impact your work is making on the company as a whole. Your work, your decisions, your efforts are immediately apparent and make more of a change in an indie publisher. You also get voice in big decisions!
What is it like working in publishing outside of London?
Well, as current chair of @SYPNorth, I am a little biased. But while it seems on the surface that everything is in London, in reality it isn't the case. There's a map going around showing how many publishers there are in the country. Sure, most are indies, but I like them.
I also personally like working outside of London. As someone who can get stressed and anxious, it's lovely to work in a smaller place. But that doesn't stop me popping into London on the train for @BookMachine, @BytetheBook, and @SYP_UK events.
How can we encourage more working class people into the industry?
From a working-class girl's perspective, what we need is more people in education reminding us that we CAN do whatever we want. They're doing great work already, but it wasn't until I went to careers fairs and specifically mentioned publishing that it was ever discussed with me.
A number of times I would be told, "Yes it's an option but just be aware, Londoners have better luck getting jobs." Maybe so, but let's put me on the front foot. Tell me that it's a career for anyone at all. Also, schemes that help you stay in London to get experience are great!
Coming from this background—where you weren't aware publishing was a career option—how did you come to learn about #workinpublishing? What was the spark?
My spark actually started as a kid. I remember buying The Angels Unlimited series by Annie Dalton. The book covers were absolutely beautiful. They made me look at the logo and wonder who on Earth had made them. That lead me to learn about HarperCollins.
I then became obsessed with them as a company, and then by publishing as a whole. When the author then wrote me and my triplet sisters into the story, I was hooked on the whole publishing process. It made me pursue it all through my childhood and adolescence.
I would tell every single teacher and tutor about it over the years, and then my careers advisor. She was brilliant at pointing me in the direction of SYP North. It's so important to have a representative regional branch of the Society of Young Publishers ...
And people like the @PublishersAssoc having Publishing Ambassadors from all over the country.
Do you need a degree to pursue a career in publishing?
Actually, no! You used to. But now places like Penguin and others say it's no longer a base requirement. Experience and skills are more important. Having a degree is definitely an advantage, but don’t write yourself off if you don’t have one.
How did you get into publishing?
After graduating, I read "How to Get a Job in Publishing" like it was the Bible. It told me to get local experience if I couldn't get to London. So I volunteered to do proofreading for the local town newsletter. I also did a Basic Proofreading home course with @PTCBookHouse
After that, I went to an @SYPNorth event and met Jamie @valleypress who gave me work experience in Scarborough. I saved up and went to London for two-week internships with @HodderBooks & Sweet & Maxwell. I then became a game night programme editor for the local basketball team.
The good thing about being a volunteer game night programme editor was that I got fab experience with all parts of the process without having to leave my home city (Hull). It also helped me develop new hobbies and new friends. Perfect!
All this volunteering and work experience led me to getting my first job @EmeraldGlobal in Bradford as an Editorial Assistant.
What have been the best moments of your career so far?
My favourite moment so far is bagging my current job @trigger_press. I stumbled across the post by accident - a brand new company opening on my doorstep, in a town outside of London, about a subject close to my heart! This lead to me receiving @printingcharity Award in July.
Editorial is often the first choice of many publishing hopefuls but there are many other roles in the industry. What would you do to #workinpublishing if you weren't an editor?
I would probably work in Sales and Marketing or Rights. Sales and Rights are fab. You get to travel, meet publishers around the world, and show your passion for your book externally. You make a real measurable impact on its success and you open it up to new audiences.
Production is also fab. Laying the actual book out on the page, working directly with printers, and learning about layout and the various book formats fascinated me when I learnt bits about it in my last job at Award Publications.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Here's some tips: Check, check, and check your application again. Don't call Trigger Press "Trigger Publishing" in your cover letter, for example. Make sure you definitely want the job you're after. It will be apparent in your application if you don't. Network like crazy.
Understand the industry. Do your research. Follow publishers, agents, printers, marketers, bloggers online. Keep up with trends. Be willing to constantly learn, at every opportunity. Find a mentor if possible. Attend SYP and @BookMachine events.
Most importantly: always back up your statements. I read 100 times while recruiting that people are hard-working and determined and good working alone and in a team. But unless you can give me concrete examples, it's just abstract. Always use examples, from any part of your life!
What qualifications are helpful for getting into publishing?
Well, good GCSEs or A Levels are great, or equivalent. But if you struggle to get experience in big publishing houses, look closer to your home to see who you can help editorially. Can you get experience helping out at local book festivals? Offer to help on their communications?
Published November 2017 as part of #workinpublishing week.