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Added: Monday 2nd July, 2018

Hena Bryan reflects on TLC's recent Get a Job In Publishing course

Earlier this year, New Writing South sponsored Hena Bryan to attend The Literary Consultancy's Get a Job in Publishing course for aspiring young publishers from diverse communities. Here, she shares her experience of the course and what she learned.

"Before attending the Get a Job in Publishing event, I can admit that my knowledge of the publishing industry was very limited. Now, before you start to judge me, I have always been a lover of books and storytelling, I just never really knew how books were made – beginning to end. You would think that studying an entire English Literature degree for three years would clue me in, but no. Reading and appreciating an author’s penmanship is a totally different ballgame to preparing an author’s penmanship to be read and later appreciated. 

For me, Get a Job in Publishing opened my eyes to the different areas of publishing that are essential in book making. All aspects - acquisition, editorial, marketing, production and so forth, each is useless without the other yet so powerful and important on its own. I had the pleasure of listening to a range of amazing speakers, who spoke about the publishing industry with so much passion and knowledge, share their experience(s) of both getting into publishing and working in the industry. It was great to hear about the different avenues others had taken into an industry that I always perceived to be linear and unaccepting to difference; for once I felt like there was hope for me, and yes, it is as dramatic as it sounds, getting into this industry is hard.

If I were to choose a favourite moment from the event, it would have to be listening to Sharmaine Lovegrove, founder of Dialogue Books, speak about her years as a bookseller and her unexpected entrance into publishing. Sharmaine’s delivery was sermon like and, I believe, touched everyone in the audience, especially me. She spoke about her love for books and storytelling, something we could all relate to, and confirmed that difference is important in an industry like publishing. Sharmaine shared the intimacies of connecting people with books, and lent several moments to speaking on the importance of diversity and inclusivity in publishing; whilst she spoke, and let slip that she had read over one thousand books – goals, it become clear to me that there isn’t one single story unworthy of being told. The art and beauty of storytelling is inspiring those who hear your voice to follow suit.

Following this, several people raised their hands to ask Sharmaine questions. One bold individual, sitting to the far right of me, asked the very question that we all wanted to know the answer to: “What is the right way to go about getting a job in publishing?,” aka ‘tell me what to do, so that I can do it!’ To this Sharmaine replied, “There isn’t a right way…” Before you read on, just take a moment to allow that to sink in. There is no magical formula or helpful guide like ‘How to Get a Job in Publishing for Dummies,’ none of that. But, and this is a big ‘but’ for all those about to freak out- Sharmaine affirmed that passion, enthusiasm, drive and a willingness to learn - the very things that brought us all to the event that day - are the traits that’ll eventually take us to where we want to go.  

Sharmaine’s words, paired with the thorough exploration of the publishing ecosystem by other speakers such as Jason Batholomew and James Spackman, provided me with the confidence and knowledge I needed to further my ambitions. By the end of the event, I was no longer scared about my lack of experience in the industry; nor was I haunted by my many application rejections from the past. I was equipped with a newfound confidence and sure of what I could offer the publishing industry when given the opportunity." 

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