Volunteering, Networking & Rejection Handling – Top Tips from SYPinto Mentee Lily

Posted on July 24, 2018 in London

With this next instalment in our mini mentorship blog series, we will be introducing you to Lily – classics grad, budding publisher, and one of our 16 2018 SYPinto mentees.

Applications for SYPahead, the second stream in our mentorship programme, dedicated to junior professionals in their first or second jobs, will be opening via the website on 30th July!


I’m Lily and I returned to London at the end of last year, after nearly six years in Paris, and decided to start a career in publishing. During the past six months, I have worked as a Publishing Assistant at Egmont and most recently I completed a Publishing Internship with Duckworth Publishers.

At my first networking event, I met a publisher who said, “the best advice I can give you is to get yourself a mentor.” When I was chosen to be part of the SYP mentorship scheme, I was so grateful to have been paired up with Charlie Morris, Publicity and Marketing Executive at Little Tiger Press. She has been an invaluable source of publishing knowledge and is very supportive. Since Charlie and I connected, we’ve met to work on my CV and cover letter, practise before interviews, and have had the odd ‘counselling session’ following rejected applications. Our favourite place to meet is the café at Waterstones Piccadilly and afterwards we often take a tour of their floors to peruse the latest publications. Even if we don’t have time to meet in person, I know that I can always message Charlie before an interview and she’ll reply with some helpful tips.


A recent book campaign I would have liked to have worked on is…

… Madeline Miller’s Circe. I studied Classics at university and still enjoy reading about the ancient world. Concerning the book itself, Miller was not only able to express the story from a fresh and feminine perspective, but she also succeeded in creating a psychologically in-depth account of a misunderstood character of Greek mythology. It would have been great to work on such a book which tapped into so many ideas that are a feature of our contemporary cultural zeitgeist. This campaign particularly stood out for me as it received brilliant reviews, was hugely popular on social media – the eye-catching cover helped with this – and Miller attended literary events internationally, championing Classics as she went.


The biggest misconception people have who aren’t involved in the industry is that…

…if you work in publishing, you must be an editor. I also had this misconception but since working at Egmont and doing an internship at Duckworth, I have learnt more about other areas of publishing such as Publicity, Sales, Marketing and Production. One way of exploring the various aspects of publishing is through doing internships, but if you can’t manage that, make sure to read as much around the industry as possible.


If I were to write a Beginner’s Guide to Publishing, my top 3 tips would be:

  • Avoid having too many preconceptions during the initial stages of looking for a job. Publishing is a multi-dimensional world, so take any opportunity you can to explore the different aspects of the industry. You may find that you started off wanting a role in Editorial, and then discover that your passion actually lies in Publicity or Marketing.
  • Whether you join the SYP, attend publishing talks, conferences or book launches, make sure you are always getting out there and speaking to people. In my spare time, I volunteer for the Royal Society of Literature, the Worldwide Association of Women Journalists and Writers, and help out at my local library. Not only have I met some amazing people, but these roles have also kept my morale up whilst I find a job in publishing. Remember that the more people you meet, the more you will learn about the industry and get insider tips – you never know, you may also get an internship or job out of it!
  • Most people will agree that the hardest thing to deal with in this competitive industry is rejection. The trick is to be persistent – keep applying and always be on the lookout for new ways to enhance your CV. I’ve often found it useful to speak to other people about their experience – you will discover that most have had their fair share of disappointment before they got their first role.


Lily is tweeting over at @lilymacmahon1!