Work experience and internships helped Meg get a foot in the door, and now she's moved into area she's passionate about. Read her advice for others hoping to find a job in publishing rights
How did you get your job?
I studied English Literature at Durham University and graduated in 2016. Following university, I completed work experience and two internships in publishing, which led to a job as a sales assistant at Pavilion Books.
After 18 months, I expressed my interest in foreign rights to my manager and was given the opportunity to attend the London Book Fair. Getting involved in meetings with foreign publishers at the fair confirmed my interest in the area, and soon afterwards I joined the Foreign Rights team on a full-time basis.
What are your main work activities?
My working day involves liaising with our foreign publishing partners, drafting contracts and raising invoices, communicating with our production team on co-edition projects, and attending production and costing meetings.
What do you enjoy about your job?
Naturally I love books, and the most rewarding aspect of working in a foreign rights department is when beautiful foreign editions arrive in the office. Seeing a book translated into multiple languages is really exciting.
What are the challenges?
We're a small team so having good time management, organisation and communication is crucial. The pressure on the department increases in the run-up to book fairs, and then there's a lot of follow-up work to be done afterwards, so it's important to approach work with a calm and pragmatic attitude.
How relevant is your degree to your job?
My English degree definitely improved my written communication and analysis skills. The ability to express yourself clearly and concisely is pretty essential for any graduate job, but particularly in foreign rights where you're communicating with people who don't speak English as a first language.
Being a fast reader who is able to quickly assess a book's potential is also useful for working in rights -where you need to judge a book's suitability for foreign markets.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
I was fortunate to be able to develop into an area that I was really interested in, and the skills I learnt as a sales assistant have proven transferrable to foreign rights.
I've recently started managing my own foreign territories, so my current ambition is to develop relationships with publishers in those countries and see more of our books published in their languages.
Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?
Most entry-level jobs in publishing will expect you to have a decent level of work experience. A good place to start is by volunteering at a local literary event - I worked at the Bath Children's Literature Festival before securing my first internship. Experience working in a bookshop is also really useful, especially if you take notice of publishing trends and the books that are selling well. This kind of knowledge will allow you to demonstrate your interest in the book trade in an interview situation.
Even if you don't have direct experience in publishing or bookselling, any office experience can be made relevant to the role. Assistant-level jobs in publishing require a lot of admin, so office skills, a positive work ethic and the ability to multi-task are essential.
Finally, when preparing for an interview, research the publisher and the books on their list. Try to read some of them if you have time, but if not then look at online reviews and social media accounts (don't pretend to have read the books!).