How we got started in Publishing: Leyla Mehmet

Posted on July 29, 2020 in UK

Leyla Mehmet, KCL English student, shares her first experiences of the publishing industry

I’m Leyla, a soon to be a third-year student who is studying English and has absolutely loved studying a wide variety of literature whilst at university. I’m hoping to enter the publishing industry upon graduation next year, and am especially interested in marketing, publicity, and editorial roles, but am also open to other areas. In this blog post I will be detailing my experiences of learning more about the industry, attempts to upskill myself, and why I think publishing is special.

Upon having my only publishing work experience cancelled and having a large amount of free-time due to finishing my second year of university and Covid-19, I have been focusing on learning more about the industry and upskilling myself in Excel, Adobe InDesign, and even proofreading. There have also been a lot of online events that have hugely increased my knowledge of the industry, organised by the different SYP branches and BookMachine in particular. My favourite events so far have been SYP Southwest’s ‘Publishing for Everyone Online Convention’ back in May, BookMachine’s ‘Talking Audio’ event that happened in mid-June, and SYP London’s event ‘How to Get into Publishing’ at the end of June which was powered by BookMachine. These events have each taught me something interesting about the industry, such as trends, or even application tips. I have really enjoyed attending these and using them to inform many of my blog posts where I detail the top takeaways from these events to help others if they couldn’t attend it or want summarised notes to return to. You can find by blog here.

Additionally, I have focused on building new connections with individuals within the industry and seeking to enter the industry, as well as promoting my blog posts, on Twitter. This has allowed me to get a clear sense of how the publishing community are very approachable and helpful. A specific example I have of this is when I was worried about my decision to not do a dissertation for my third-year, instead choosing two modules, and many people within the publishing industry got back to me and re-assured me that it wouldn’t affect me in the future as they were not asked in interviews if they had done a dissertation. Many have also been very supportive of my blog posts, especially of those that detail my top takeaways from different events, by liking, re-tweeting, or even commenting on my tweets of these posts. It’s nice to have a place where I can learn more about the industry and also connect and interact with others.

Publishing is special to me for many reasons. Books have played an important role throughout my life, both relating to my studies and other elements like entertainment, but also escapism. I have seen the positive effects they have had on my three-year old nephew, who has learnt the alphabet, the names of animals, colours, and other important learnings, all through books and reading. We forget that reading has played this important role I speak of from our early lives and the importance of children’s publishers in not only this education, but also creating a love for literature as your reading abilities advance through different ages and you move up in book difficulty. Then, as you get older and choose your own subjects or what you do in your free time, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to continue to read books or not. For me, I couldn’t imagine my life without books playing huge role in it, but it is of course personal preference. From editing, to production, to sales; the publishing industry and all of its roles are crucial.

Yet, I want to leave this post with how, although the publishing industry is wonderful, it is also very competitive to get a career in, which is something that does worry me. Work experience and internships are needed for applications, yet they are also really hard to obtain, and many are unpaid; made even harder now by Covid-19. There are additionally changes needed for the publishing industry, particularly in terms of diversity, inclusivity and accessibility. The publishing industry is fantastic, but it isn’t perfect; change is needed, but this can be achieved. These conversations are happening, people are advocating for change and drawing large amounts of attention on these issues. With these people, I believe that the publishing industry can become even more great. I’m really looking forward to continuing my learning of the industry, writing more blog posts, and interacting with others!