SYP Ireland: Mentorship Scheme Testimonials

Posted on May 16, 2021 in Ireland

Last year COVID-19 halted multiple book fairs, pushed thousands of book launches online and delayed book distribution chains. However, SYP Ireland bucked the trend by not only relaunching the chapter but also extending the SYP’s flagship mentorship scheme to Ireland, both north and south, for the first time. The scheme, held in collaboration with Publishing Ireland, offered seven publishing hopefuls the opportunity to connect with an experienced member of the Publishing community. Over a period of six months, the mentor and mentee pairs hold around five one-to-one online meetings. Some mentees wanted CV advice and others simply had questions about the production chain. Whatever the particular need or interest, all have been delighted to have a ‘person on the inside’ to ask for questions or run their ideas by.  Now, almost five months in, we have an update from three of our mentee and mentor pairs, who can explain what has been gained through this scheme better than we can!


Deirdre Power, mentee for Polly Nolan of PaperCuts Literary Agency & Consultancy Ltd says

“When I started on the mentorship scheme, my amazing mentor Polly Nolan and I worked a lot on my CV. But as we all know, applying for jobs is practically a full-time role. My mentor was certain that the sample cover letter I sent would be enough to land me on the shortlist. But months passed, and there was very little happening.

Around November, I noticed a job advertisement with the Curtis Brown Group in their Translation Rights Department. I wasn’t sure I had the qualifications, but I felt that anything I lacked, I could learn or develop. So I sent in an application, bearing in mind one key piece of advice from my mentor Polly: I told Curtis Brown why I wanted to work for them, not just anywhere. I was aware of Curtis Brown Creative, their creative writing school with agent guidance, and of their Breakthroughs programme. I was also consistently astonished by their list and their success stories. I put it all in my cover letter. Honestly, I thought I had probably overdone it. And I didn’t get it.

In February, Curtis Brown sent me an email out of the blue to say that they had very much liked my application and I had made their longlist. They thought I may be interested in their internship – we set up an interview for the next day, and by the following week, I was their Translation Rights intern. I put my passion on the page, and it paid off – I may not have been selected for the job, but the right words reached the right people. You have nothing to lose by putting yourself out there, and everything to gain by taking a chance. I’ve been with CB for about a month, loving every moment.”

From Deirdre’s mentor, Polly Nolan of PaperCuts Literary Agency & Consultancy Ltd:

“I was delighted to take part in the SYP mentorship, especially the first one to happen in Ireland.  ‘Getting into publishing’ can look – and be – daunting, but it is doable.  Hopefully this mentorship will be the first of many and will help people see that they can achieve their ambition.

Deirdre and I were paired because she is interested, and I have a background in Children’s Books.  Fortunately (or possibly, unfortunately for her), I am always happy to pontificate about my experiences in the industry, having left Galway in the 1990s, unable to get a job in publishing in Ireland. (Publishing, at that time, was Dublin-centric).  Happily, after working in a children’s bookshop in London, I managed to wedge my foot in the door of a London publishing house.

One of the things I try to impart to mentees, both within SYP and other mentoring schemes in which I’m involved, is that wearing their heart on their sleeve isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Having read through hundreds of CVs and application letters during my time as a senior publisher, I quickly learned to look for the candidates with a sincere wish to work, not just for any publishing house, but for ‘my’ publishing house.  People in publishing work extremely hard and very long hours. They want to feel that anybody coming to join the team shares that strength of feeling.  To everyone trying to get into publishing I would say, don’t be afraid to say that you love a particular publishing house because of X, Y and Z.

Fantastically for Deirdre, she has achieved an important first step on her journey into publishing by landing her place with Curtis Brown.  She will learn so much from the experience.  Ultimately, our mentorship didn’t get her the job but hopefully she learned from it and soon will be able to pass on her own experience to her own mentee.”


Rachel McCarron, mentee for Alix Fryer, Marketing Manager at The Lancet says the following:

“The SYP Ireland Into Mentorship Scheme has been a very positive experience as it has given me the chance to acquire a wealth of knowledge and information from my mentor, Alix Fryer, about the publishing industry. We have had regular catch-up meetings since November 2020 and during these meetings, she recommended that I use this time to ask her any questions that I might have, whilst offering tips for job hunting. At one of the first meetings, I sent Alix the most recent cover letter and CV that I had used for a job application and then during our catch-up she gave some very helpful advice and information for my CV. This was extremely helpful as, although I have no prior experience in the publishing industry, I do have some useful transferable skills so she helped me to highlight those in both documents. With regards to job roles that I have been interested in, Alix has broken down the details of the role into the different departments that I would possibly be working with and put the job roles into basic terms which has been invaluable as I continue to learn about this industry and find out what to expect from each job role. She has also recommended some upskilling courses on platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Google Digital Garage which have helped my knowledge of Digital Marketing grow in particular. The past few months have flown by and I am very grateful for the regular catch-up meetings that I have had with Alix, she is also very approachable and welcomes any emails or queries in between our scheduled meetings which I really appreciate.”

Rachel’s mentor, Alix Fryer, Marketing Manager at The Lancet says:

The SYP Ireland mentorship scheme has been truly a rewarding experience to participate in. I come at this as someone who has worked in the publishing industry for over ten years now and know from experience the value of having a supportive mentor. I was lucky to be paired with Rachel McCarron who is both enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with. Since our first session in the Autumn, I have watched Rachel grow in confidence about her own skills, experience, and abilities. Each time we meet we cover a new topic that Rachel identifies as an area she would like to discuss and learn more about. Rachel always asks thoughtful questions, listens to my feedback, and takes the initiative to follow up on the areas that interest her the most.  For example, we have gone through her CV and experience together and highlighted her transferable skills that are most applicable to publishing, and which may not be as obviously useful to those new to the industry. Making the leap from graduate to a valued member of the publishing family can be a daunting prospect at any time, and I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to help support a young and enthusiastic potential colleague through this process.


From Austin Hughes, mentee for Ruth Hallinan, Publishing and Production Manager at The Lilliput Press:

“I’ve been gaining so, so much from my time with Ruth, it’s been a truly priceless experience. One of my favourite meetings we had was when Ruth walked me through the step-by-step process that a book goes through from first concept/draft to publication. It was all brand new information to me and laid out a really useful foundation for the rest of the lessons to build on each stage and go into more detail. Ruth has also been incredibly forthcoming with advice and notes on my reader’s reports, AI sheets, and cover letters and I have just finished a job application for Wordwell Group that I know is infinitely stronger with my new knowledge and Ruth’s support.”

Austin’s mentor Ruth Hallinan, Publishing and Production Manager at The Lilliput Press says the following:

“The SYP Ireland mentorship programme, run in conjunction with Publishing Ireland, is a valuable and enjoyable scheme for mentors and mentees alike. It has been a pleasure talking through the various departments and stages of publishing with Austin. He has been an interested and enthusiastic mentee and I am only too glad to fill in gaps of knowledge or introduce him to areas of publishing he was not familiar with before. The mentorship scheme is a great way for people working in the industry to impart knowledge and experience to the next generation, and I know that both mentors and mentees will finish the year with fresh new perspectives.”


Does the SYP mentorship scheme sound like something you could benefit from? Either as a mentor or a mentee?

If so, follow us on Twitter @SYPIreland and keep up to date with our website to apply for the 2021 scheme, which will launch in Autumn 2021.