How did you get your start in the publishing industry? I was lucky enough to get work experience in the press office of a large publisher. I’d done a BA Hons Communication degree, and two of the final year modules were ‘PR’ and ‘Publishing & Editing’, so I found – to my surprise – I could sort of hit the ground running. Plus, I had the bravery of youth! And I have to say a HUGE ‘thank you’ to the late Bob Giddings, the brilliant university professor who put in a good word for me and my parents who supported me financially when I was just earning expenses. They could see I was keen and they were incredibly encouraging – never doubted me for a minute! And never made a murmur about the cost. Bless them.
What is the most interesting part of your job? I’ve always loved finding the ‘angle’ – what’s going to make this book appealing to a book-buyer/retailer/reviewer? What are they going to find interesting? What’s going to make them engage with it? And how can I help make that happen? I’ve found in the world of children’s publishing, no-one’s in it by accident. People are here because they want to be – they’re interested in it, they’re passionate about it and they’re knowledgeable. That’s a fantastic environment to promote in. You’re constantly stimulated, encouraged and LEARNING. I love it. And I STILL get a thrill when I open a newspaper and see a review or feature of one of the books I work on, or turn on the radio or telly and see/hear one my authors. I love going behind the scenes in TV studios – it makes me feel grown up and glamourous!
What are the challenges of your role? Mostly physical! I’m older now and I like my own bed and, when you’re on tour or it’s festival season, you might not see it for a while. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE touring – it is ALWAYS a hoot. Being out on the road, meeting people, seeing the author interact with the children – it’s brilliant. But you’re never quite in the moment. You’re always thinking ahead, you’re always on the move – and you have to keep on top of office admin, while you’re away – and that can be a tiring frame of mind to be in for longer periods. More so as I enter my 30s (ahem!)…
Describe a typical day or are no two days alike? I find days fall into two camps – in the office or on the road. And then the office days fall into two camps – ‘meeting days’ or ‘time at my desk days’. But whatever sort of day it is, there’s generally a lot of laughter. We laugh A LOT in our department. We’re in an open plan office and I always remember our ‘neighbours’ just a little bit too late… usually just after I’ve let out a shamefully loud shriek of laughter or, worse, a SNORT.
Tips for Book Bloggers? STAY IN TOUCH. It’s easier for a publicist to curate what they show you if they know what you like. Plus, we love a chat.
What are you currently reading? I read ‘The Quest for Queen Mary’ by James Pope-Hennessy in a single weekend, sitting in the sun and it was HEAVEN. It’s all the bits of notes he took from researching his biography of Queen Mary. A royal biog has to be pretty respectful. The notes DON’T. It fantastically indiscreet – and I LOVE gossip – and he describes everything so beautifully. Not fawning or over-impressed by royalty or rank – just as it is. So, now I’m reading the ACTUAL biography and it’s VERY ENLIGHTENING to see what made it into the final cut. And even more enlightening to see what didn’t, and what could be alluded to. I’m dreadfully nosy.
I am a primary school teacher, turned librarian. Now I have the title Reading Advocate for ASSET Education Trust, based in Suffolk.
I read constantly and have more books than bookshelves, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
I celebrate reading every day at work and at home with my two children, aged 11 and 9.
I sit on the National Executive Committee for the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and run an OU/UKLA Teachers as Readers group!
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I’m loving this feature! Such a great idea.
The publicists are so wonderful in answering my questions! I have just posted a new publicist feature on the Meet the Gatekeepers page on my blog, Marie- Louise from Faber.
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