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Where you start isn't where you have to end up

Where you start isn’t where you have to end up: Moving from adult to children’s publishing

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Children’s publishing inspired me to want to work in the industry. Unsurprisingly, I’d always loved reading but it wasn’t until I won a Point Horror writing competition in the mid-1990s that my publishing fate was sealed!

All the winners of the library competition had the chance to visit the Scholastic offices for a day of talks by each department. I arrived home and declared to my Mum, “I’m going to work in publishing”. At 13, I was too young for work experience or to join the Society of Young Publishers. But as soon as I reached the ripe old age of 18, I did both!

Like most people, I set my young mind on being an editor (this fact may surprise those who know me as I’m so passionate about marketing). However, once I’d seen the industry from the inside I knew that I wasn’t right for editorial and applied for jobs in marketing and publicity where I could spread the word about wonderful books and get them into people’s hands.

For the first 10 years of my career, I worked almost exclusively on adult fiction and non-fiction (falling in love with marketing non-fiction along the way). It wasn’t until I started at DK that I became immersed in Children’s Publishing and what a lovely place it is. I gained knowledge quickly and felt welcomed by the Children’s Publishing community.

The reason I’ve outlined my journey is to show that where you start isn’t where you have to end up. Here are my tips for getting into children’s publishing if you haven’t been able to yet:

  1. Highlight your transferable skills – at Vintage Books I worked on film tie-in titles and that was a selling point for my DK job as I also look after the licensing books. Look at what you are doing now which gives you the edge over other people.
  2. Be prepared to take (calculated) risks – my scariest moment was giving up a permanent job for a temporary one to move up the ladder. It was a calculated risk as my parents live in London giving me a back-up. Make sure you have a backupplan for what happens if you are without a job for a while.
  3. Demonstrate your commitment in your own time – there are things you can do in your own time to gain relatable Children’s publishing experience through volunteering such as reading with a child in your lunch hour (I do this as it’s a great way to see how kids interact with books), helping at a children’s book festival, and supporting the IBBY. I was on the Society of Young Publishers committee which gave me a well-rounded view of the industry as a whole.

Getting into your chosen area of publishing is always possible. It just might take time to find the right job for you – and for you to work out which part of publishing is your perfect fit. Just bring your passion and your best self.

Claire Morrison is Deputy Marketing Director at DK. Find out more about #workinpublishing week here and follow us on Twitter.