Written by Vanessa Wheeler, Editorial intern and BA Literature and Language student at the University of London.
In April, the Publishers Association sponsored my place on the four day Get into Book Publishing Course at University College London. As someone with previous editorial experience, but having never worked for a publishing house, I was intrigued by the industry and wanted to learn how it differed from the other types of magazine and newspaper publishing that I was accustomed to. Most importantly, I wanted to know how I could have a career working with books after I graduate.
Held in Bloomsbury – the quintessence of London’s historical literary scene – the course, convened by Heather O’Connell of Bluebird Consulting, was structured by talks from a myriad of professionals who each explained their sector of the publishing industry. These friendly lectures were given by editors, publicists, agents, marketers, networkers, recruiters, booksellers, digital innovators, and entrepreneurs.
Since this was the week following the London Book Fair, everyone was still swept up in its aftermath; the atmosphere was a concoction of both exhilaration and exhaustion, yet I had never before been surrounded by people more impassioned by their careers, or more enthusiastically sharing their insight to newcomers. The facets of book publishing: trade, children’s, YA, STM, academic, eBook, audiobook – the list goes on – were unravelled in great detail, and I finally felt I had a transparent understanding of the industry.
Just as importantly, the course allowed me to network for the very first time at the charming St Bride Library, an antiquarian’s sanctuary tucked away behind Fleet Street. I was introduced to a variety of professionals, some of whom had given talks on the course, and made some fantastic new contacts; by the end of the night, my purse was full of business cards! I also stayed in contact with my fellow course mates, a group of whom helped to support each other as we successfully applied for job and internship opportunities after the course ended. The skills and opportunities that I was provided with on the course enhanced my CV, strengthened my network, and provided me with the confidence I needed to venture into the book publishing industry.