Last night, the Society of Young Publishers hosted ‘The Wider World of Publishing’, an event focused on jobs and companies that support the publishing industry, but don’t necessarily work in the middle of it.
The guest speakers were Aki Schilz from The Literary Consultancy, Sheerin Aswat from the London Book Fair, Zoe Plant, a Senior Literary Scout and Eliza Cavanaugh from The Publishers Association.
The event itself was a success. With lots of attendees and great speakers and a wonderful host, Callum, the night couldn’t have gone smoother. I enjoyed listening to the successful career women in these roles agree on their passionate views about the issues that surround our industry and concerns about the fate of scouting post-brexit.
To give an overview, Aki runs The Literary Consultancy, a successful editorial and manuscript assessment service, helping authors to get their foot in the door of publishing houses and agencies. Sheerin is the head of sales for the London Book Fair, a brilliant annual event through which people sell and buy rights to titles both nationally and internationally and where budding authors and publishers can attend to find out more about the market. Zoe is a senior scout for Daniela Shlingmann Literary Scouting, where she discovers new books and authors daily, often making many foreign deals. Finally, Eliza is a campaigns executive for The Publishers Association, supporting the publishing industry in the UK to ensure fair representation.
Now, many of these kinds of careers involve working directly with books, authors and publishers on a daily basis, which is amazing. But how do we get involved in these areas? Well, I’m not entirely sure. While last night’s event was great for listening to experts who support the publishing industry speak about the industry and its struggles, I struggled to find out much about how I could get involved in the wider world. Which is what I went there for; I wanted to know if I could volunteer at events with these places, what kinds of entry level positions there are in these areas and what they thought of assistants from the wider world moving into publishing at a later stage in their careers. This is what I did not get out of this event.
So, I enjoyed myself. I liked hearing the debates, everyone’s frustrations at unpaid internships and the way that publishing is so behind on areas such as e-books and digital trends. But I did not feel as though the matter of how to work in the wider world was addressed and if it would be any easier to get that job than in the editorial department of a publishing house. I would recommend for the future that there be a 50/50 focus split on both elements, because I learned a lot from the discussions, just not exactly what I expected to learn.