On my first day I was ushered up to the sixteenth floor of the Hachette building on Euston Road. Having spent the previous week at the beautiful but compact Hot Key Books office and my internship before that in a little three man office in Oxford, this big skyscraper of an office block was a bit of a shock. It had views! It had glass elevators with no buttons! Swanky.
Along with a fellow intern, I was immediately thrown in at the deep end. Introduced to Publicity Director, Georgina Moore, we were then given a desk, a computer and an email account. OICPS alumni Elaine Egan distributed newspapers and it was time to read through the weekend articles and search for references to any Headline or Tinder Press books in the reviews. Helena Towers was working on a brilliant and far reaching campaign for The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls that had a lot of media coverage, and there were some great mentions for Tanya Byrne’s Follow Me Down. These clippings were collated and scanned for a weekly round-up.
I was able to sit in on a board meeting with the MD to discuss upcoming titles for the season, a highly informative way of learning about how departments interrelate when coming up with effective campaigns. This suddenly made New Product Development make sense, watching everything come together.
As I was lucky enough (ha – who would have thought I’d be saying that?) to be taught InDesign in my first semester at Brookes, Caitlin Raynor gave me the task of designing a press release for Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye. It was very nice to realise that I’d indeed learnt something beneficial in those classes, and to experiment and hone my design skills. These press releases were printed and folded alongside posting out books for review. My hand soon got well acquainted with the particular ache of stapling 500 or so envelopes a day. Carrying the piles to the post room area was strangely satisfying. I also learnt to do other exciting things like convert Excel spreadsheets into printed labels, and track down editor addresses on Gorkana media coverage.
I was asked to read Peggy Riley’s Amity & Sorrow (a book of which I had picked up a proof from work, but had not yet read). It was incredibly powerful and affecting, a story that refuses to sugar coat, that uses language as an expository force. My task was to design a Pinterest board for Tinder Press, taking pictures and matching them with quotes from the book. Peggy responded very favourably to the board, which might have induced a little happy dance, and I was incredibly proud to work on it.
In my first two weeks I was lucky to meet the wonderful Sophie Lay, my fellow intern and partner in crime. Sophie’s positive and approachable manner meant that I was learning the ropes with a friend. She let me know about some amazing opportunities that were happening in London. Together we went to the Southbank Centre for London Literary Festival’s event with Audrey Niffenegger, my second time meeting the author. This time she was discussing her new illustrated fairy tale for adults, Raven Girl, which I reviewed for MuggleNet.
Sophie also told me all about Stoke Newington Literary Festival. We spent one sunny Saturday distributing programmes, and the following Sunday I was able to FINALLY see Sally Gardner speak at an event for her Costa and Carnegie award winning Maggot Moon. It was really nice to see so many people new to Sally’s work buying books and approaching her for the signing at the end, as well as catch up with Hot Key Books staff. With a free afternoon, I volunteered to help out with the festival and ended up with a ticket to see Caitlin Moran.
Back at Headline, Sophie created a Pinterest board for Silver Linings Playbook author Matthew Quick’s heart stopping new young adult novel, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. With a dark plot and plenty of references to film noir and Bogart and Bacall, the visual element was exciting to pin down. I took over completion of the board from Sophie when she left to go back to her full time job, although it felt a bit like looking after someone else’s baby. It was fun to see Matthew’s Little, Brown editor, Alvina Ling, follow the board, showing how internet promotion campaigns can reach across the pond!
We’d also been able to meet Mock the Week’s Hugh Dennis (aka Pete) who came in to sign stock of his book Britty, Britty, Bang Bang. It was interesting to see his editors, cover designer and so on get their copies signed. The following week we repeated the process of boxing up signed stock, this time for football manager, Neil Warnock. These signings coincided with press days, the authors being interview by newspaper and radio journalists. They also made great candidates to be interviewed by Ben Willis for a feature on the Headline website, Men Who Stare At Books.
For the final two weeks I was joined by fellow OICPS student, Clara. Press Officer, Vero Norton gave us copies of The Outline of Love to read, another Tinder Press novel about love, obsession and celebrity. If anyone else has read it, I would be very interested to know who you think of when casting Leo Ford!
One of my tasks was to design posters and showcards, including some for Crimefest authors, some for Kate Humble’s new book, and a couple for a school visit from New York YA author Jennifer E. Smith to promote her new novel This Is What Happy Looks Like. (Which is NOT based on Justin Beiber, but might have a tiny hint of RPattz!) I’d heard of Jen’s books from a John Green video, and was very happy to act as publicity assistant on her trip to a nearby girls’ school. The girls had a great range of questions, and every single person bought one or both of the books. Jen’s first book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, is soon to be made into a movie, helmed by the director of Milk.
As this was all happening, I also got involved with a project run by Beth Cox. Together with Alexandra Strick, they run Inclusive Minds, which aims to promote equality in children’s literature. Beth asked me to help with proofreading papers for the ‘Diversity, Inclusion and Equality’ edition of Write4Children. I have also joined Inclusive Minds as a content collaborator for the website, reviewing books and reporting on news items such as the launch party for Alex Strick’s Max the Champion.
For the entire month, there were many excited whisperings about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the new novel by Neil Gaiman. Sam received many requests for interview copies, so my task was often posting out copies for review (being very careful to peel off the ‘book at bedtime’ stickers from each copy until it was announced) and including the press release.
So my final official day was spent with Clara, flapping 1200 books ready to be signed.
And then the thing that deserves a blog post all of its own happened.