SYP Scotland's #MyCareerPath

Posted on May 21, 2018 in News & Reviews, Scotland

A recent hashtag, #MyCareerPath, saw Twitter users take to the online platform to explain how they got to where they are today. For this industry, where the eternal question seems to be ‘How do I get into publishing?’, it meant valuable insight into the diverse paths which people have taken. The SYP Scotland committee decided to jump on the band wagon, and provided their own career paths – as well as some key skills which got them to where they are today.
 
Jamie Norman, Co-Chair
I had what I’ll call a ‘non-traditional’ route into publishing – graduating with an MLitt in creative writing, I moved to Edinburgh and joined the SYP. I applied for the annual mentorship scheme and was paired with Caroline in Canongate’s rights team. Because I was also interested in publicity I met with Fiona of Brownlee-Donald Associates to ask her advice. Fiona had me keep an eye on the PPC, and through Caroline I joined Canongate as a rights intern. At the close of my internship I applied for a role Fiona suggested to me through the PPC – a temporary publicity assistant for 2 weeks at Vintage (PRH). I was hired and following those two weeks was interviewed for their Cuttings Assistant role, working part-time remotely from Edinburgh. I worked in this role for the next year, while also doing 1-2 weeks as a publicity assistant in London whenever available. In January ‘17 I applied for the campaigns assistant position at Canongate, which is my current role.
What skill is most important to my role? Communication – be it with authors, agents, journalists, events organisers, marketeers, or other Canongaters, I’ve got to communicate using many mediums quickly and effectively. I refined this skill at University, where I performed Improvised Theatre for four years, learning to read body language, adapt to unknown situations and lead a troupe. I’d act as a teacher, events organiser and PR liaison, which exposed me to a lot of the pitching side of my role.
 
Mika Cook, Co-Chair
My publishing career is still extremely young. I am just graduating from an undergraduate in Celtic & Scottish Literature, so that most of my publishing experience comes from my time spent with PublishED (Edinburgh University’s Creative Writing Society) and SYP Scotland. I joined PublishED committee at the start of my second year as Drama Editor, and the SYP at the end of that year, as Student Liaison. The roles were beautifully complimentary, and led to really interesting collaborations with the Creative & Cultural Careers Festival: World of Books and Publishing, which I helped organise in the capacity of both PublishED and the SYP. Recently, I joined the 404INK team as a part-time Publishing Assistant, which has been an absolute dream so far.
Last year, I realised that my interests overall lie quite strongly in Rights and Intellectual Property, which is why I am starting a graduate LLB in Common Law at the University of Glasgow this September – who knows where that will take me!
 
Joanne Fuller, Communications Officer
I had a fairly unconventional route into the world of publishing. I graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English Literature and went into teaching. After a year, I decided that whilst I was passionate about education, teaching wasn’t quite the right fit for me. I took an internship with a small, indie publisher called Blackbird Digital Books and then was offered a job of Marketing Assistant a month or so later at Rising Stars which specialises in primary education. Last November, I made the move from London to Edinburgh and was offered a position as Marketing Executive at Bright Red Publishing, which is my current role.
 
Rebecca Wojturska, Communications Officer
My route into publishing was fairly conventional. I completed two English Lit degrees before choosing publishing as my career path. I was awarded a bursary to study an MA in Publishing by the Stationers foundation, which I completed while working full-time as a bookseller. I edited manuscripts for a small trade publisher and interned at Cambridge University Press before finally landing my first job in publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry. A move to Scotland has found me working across editorial and marketing at Edinburgh University Press.
The core skill that guided my career? Multi-tasking! While I worked I was also involved with lots of projects on the side, including volunteering at Cambridge Publishing Society, the Society of Young Publishers, and for extra projects at work. This meant I could demonstrably show my ability to juggle many different priorities at the same time. But make sure you only take on as much as you can – your mental health comes first.
 
Kirsten Knight, Student Liaison
I’m currently halfway through my undergrad in English Language, so my work in publishing consists of the things I’ve done alongside that. The skill I have found invaluable in my ‘journey’ thus far is looking for opportunities. Scottish publishing is a teeny, tiny world of lovely people who all seem to know each other. If you can find a way to put yourself out there, fab things will happen! For example, a wee while ago, I joined the SYP. Through this, I participated in a shadow panel for the Saltire Awards, chaired an event for a shortlisted author, and attended the Awards ceremony, where I met many wonderful industry people. After all of that, I went to the SYP conference, applied for the committee, and now here I am, ranting about the incredible things that can happen if you look for, and make the most of, any opportunities you spot.
 
Kirsten Murray, Communications Officer
My publishing career path was relatively normal. Upon completing my joint honours English Lit and History degree at the University of Glasgow, I was keen to focus my sights on comics publishing. I was in the final few months of my MLitt in Comics Studies at the University of Dundee when I gained an internship at Titan Comics in London, where I kept on as a permanent member of staff as assistant editor. After a year and a half, I became a commissioning editor for DC Thomson’s comics department, and soon promoted to heritage brands’ editor. Now, after having gained a widely varied amount of experience, I work as a freelance editor specialising in comics and graphic novels.
One of the core skills I’ve found most beneficial in my career so far is problem solving. With tight deadlines and lots of projects and clients to juggle, it’s not uncommon to run into difficulties. Being able to keep a cool head and come up with sensible and practical solutions is a brilliant skill to develop.