And then I accidentally got a job. *cue screeching disc scratch*
A bulletin went up via the Brookes publishing MA website. Oxford University Press were looking for an intern in the children's trade marketing and publicity department. Having just finished a month LOVING publicity at Headline, and knowing full well that children's/YA was my area of interest, this opportunity was a dream come true. I weighed up the options (Sally’s email reminded us that getting full time employment was not grounds for an extension on our project deadlines) and decided that the job was too great to pass up.
I went in for the interview with Hattie Bayly and Charlotte Armstrong and soon learned that the internship was in fact a short contract job. Oh again!!!
There had been a crossed wire and a full time grown up actual real job was not what I was expecting from the advertisement, but this was so much better. Luckily everything went well at the interview, and I was asked to join the OUP Children’s Trade team. Myself and fellow Brookes alumna, Alesha Bonser, stepped into the very capable shoes of Publicity Executive Jennie Younger. Armed with Jennie’s two folders of notes about how to run the office, we were off - planning events, sending out Winnie the Witch costumes, writing up press releases, sending review mailings, meeting wonderful authors such as Tom Moorhouse at the launch of The River Singers, posting to the Oxford Owl page, talking to bloggers, designing marketing materials and living the dream.
And so began a summer of working full time. As well as continuing to work my ‘every other weekend’ Saturday job at The Book House...and let's not forget that major project shall we? EEP!!!
Sunday’s were generally spent sleeping and typing furiously. (Apologies to all the friends with whom I had to cancel plans!)
The project was finally handed in (after a lot of hard work and late nights) at the end of September, thanks to the help of Helena Markou, Liz Chapman, Beth Howard, Beth Cox, Zoe Marriott, James Dawson, Nina Douglas, Malinda Lo and more. Check out Erica Gillingham's brilliant introduction to UK LGBTQ YA on Malinda's diversity ya site! Now I just can’t wait to put some of my ideas into practice. Let’s hope lots more people choose to write and submit LGBTQ* inclusive fiction to receptive editors and agents (such as Non Pratt at Catnip Books) and that the UK market for diverse fiction will grow with our encouragement.
Working at OUP has definitely been a steep learning curve, stepping away from being a student to having a full time job. In the run up to my MA project deadline, I was organising OUP attendance at two festivals and accompanying authors to their events as their publicist. It’s sometimes felt like running up hill in a strong wind, but it has been an absolute blast.
I got to take my Mum's knitted sea monkey to star on stage alongside Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve at Cheltenham for Oliver and the Seawigs. I LOVE this snazzy illustrated book for young readers with big imaginations, and meeting Sarah and Philip was so much fun. I had the EEP Monkey song stuck in my head for days and even got to try my hand at illustrating. Check out a chance to win your own family portrait from Sarah here.
I somehow squeezed in other events along the way. Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman discussed favourite children’s books at the Oxford Playhouse, followed by a marathon signing where I was armed with post-its and sharpies assisting Sam Eades once again. A trip to the Nosy Crow children's publishing conference meant that I got to meet the lovely Stacey of prettybooks and I bumped into Lucy from Project UKYA at David Levithan event during Bath Festival. We were thrilled that Every Day was FINALLY published in the UK!! I even managed to fight off the post-deadline flu and see Queen of Teen, Maureen Johnson in conversation with James Dawson at Waterstones Piccadilly. (I stole her stare). A jam packed, incredible, (slightly exhausting), thrilling summer indeed.
Last Sunday was my last ever day at The Book House. Covering during Thame Arts and Literature Festival, I said goodbye to the shop that I've worked at since I was seventeen. Eight years is a long time, and the shop has very much shaped who I am and who I will be. I was delighted to see how much support there was for the Books Are My Bag campaign - for which we decked out Fat Puffin in orange balloons and a fetching t-shirt. Now I plan to use my free Saturdays browsing their shelves and maybe I'll have enough time to actually dip into some of the wonderful and exciting books to be found on them. Huge thanks to Luise and Brian for allowing me to learn from their expertise for so many enjoyable years.
But there are book reviews I need to write and a MOUNTAIN of books I want to read, and with some upcoming exciting projects, I'm determined now to get back into maintaining this blog with my adventures working in publishing...
Charlieinabook is back!
Feel free to ask any questions below about what the first few months in a new job has been like, I'd love to know what might intrigue you about the experience, especially if you want to get into publishing yourself.