Welcome to another interview for the People in Publishing feature on my blog! Today’s interviewee is a good friend of mine who works in magazine publishing and has interned for a number of books publishers. We met through a mutual friend, Sam Stevens, and encouraged each other through harrowing job searches through the publishing industry! Rosalind is incredibly ambitious, extremely hard-working, and very talented. I can see her being a huge success in the publishing industry and I hope to continue learning from her. Below she discusses her job search, her current job, the benefits of interning, and gives advice on getting your foot in the door.
Please introduce yourself and describe your background and your career.
I’m Rosalind Moody and I’m a graduate from the University of Hull. I studied English and Philosophy and achieved a 2:1. Since my second year of university, I’ve completed unpaid internships at Endeavour Press, Simon & Schuster UK, Hodder and Stoughton and Just Imagine, a specialist children’s bookseller in Chelmsford. Last Christmas I was offered a job as Editorial Assistant at Colchester-based publishing company Aceville Publications who own a lot of major craft magazines, as well as other well-known titles such as Great British Food, Your Fitness and Natural Health. Make it Today is a new title I’m helping to develop but actually I’ve just been transferred to a more established magazine called Homemaker. I’m really enjoying myself and I’m constantly learning!
Having worked as an intern in books publishing and now as an Editorial Assistant for a magazine, what would you say is the biggest culture difference between the two types of publishing?
The biggest culture difference is who pays the bottom line. With books it’s just the reader to make the profit for the publisher, so no wonder the book is vulnerable at the moment. With magazines it’s the readers and the advertisers who all pay their way. So, although that means we as the magazine publishers have lots of people to please, money comes from two different directions – sales, and how well we direct our readers to our advertisers’ networks. Things work at different paces too – in magazines, you have to be prepared for things to change, and quickly. Rightly so, I think: if we see a trend, we can jump on it straight away and capitalise on the excitement, such as the recent surge in sewing after The Great British Sewing Bee became so big. I do quite like the quickened pace though – my first magazine comes out every six weeks, and the one I now work on is every four weeks. Publication dates for books are announced a year or 18 months in advance. I like it because I get to see results of my work within weeks, which is always really satisfying, and there’s more of an instant feedback with our readers too; there’s a lot more conversation between our team and our readers than there is between book editor and reader, whose job it is to be virtually invisible and let the author’s voice come through the best it can. Social media has helped to cement this kind of relationship, but our names and headshots are all over the magazine anyway! I enjoy this kind of relationship, and I always have the reader in mind when I’m ordering in any product, writing introductions to projects or interviewing a person who’s popular in the craft industry – what would the reader most like to read?
A big similarity between magazine and book publishing, however, is that they are just two types of effective editorial, which in my book is an idea being communicated in the most creative way, from one person to a page. In buying a book or a magazine, the reader is buying into escapism, an inspiration: a book and a craft magazine both give the feeling the reader can go anywhere or do anything in their mind. The reader is still buying an idea or an ideal of themselves. Finishing a pattern from one of dressmaking issues is like making it to the end of the book. Satisfying, and the better we’ve made our product, the more likely it is they’ll finish it!
Why was work experience and interning so important and valuable in your job search? What is your point of view on Book Careers’ decision to only deal with internships and work experience placements that are paid?
I think the stand they’ve taken is great; someone needed to, and hopefully others will, although it’s unlikely it will catch on. It’s hard to be expected to do six months’ worth of unpaid internships and then live on a pittance when we finally get hired in an entry level job, but that’s what most of us have to do to work in this exciting, frustrating industry of publishing. I count myself lucky that I could do my four unpaid internships, and ‘lucky’ isn’t the word a lot of people would use to be able to work for free I’m sure! My parents were supportive and I live a 45 minute train journey outside of London. Good editorial thinking is a skill, so why aren’t we being paid for it? My internships experience was brilliant though, aside from the financial matters – I learnt things from putting together an adult self-teaching language pack to commissioning ebook jacket covers to proofreading Kylie’s latest biography! My main problem though, is with a company called Creative Access that only advertises internships to BAME or ethnic minorities – isn’t that positive discrimination? I think publishing would be more vibrant if anyone from any background was in it, so why should we care where they’re from? Pay them the same and see who does better on their own merit.
“In magazines, you have to be prepared for things to change, and quickly.”
Having been through the harrowing process of finding your very first job in publishing, what would you say is the most valuable piece of advice you can give to current job searchers?
Be on EVERY recruitment network; Brand Republic, Guardian Jobs, Gorkana, The GRB team, LinkedIn Jobs. Seek the help of publishing recruitment agents too, even though some are more proactive than others. Say no to the jobs they tell you about that are just not ‘you’; they will be a waste of your application time! Give yourself an edge, too – that was advice I was given by the Sales Director at Hodder and Stoughton. My edge was working from the bookselling side at Just Imagine, where I worked with PR people from the publishing houses. To follow on from that, meet anyone you can at any book event you can tag along to, and you never know who you’ll meet – some of my best contacts from internships have not been the employer themselves but other interns or people you meet at events you’re helping at. For example, I met a theatre critic for the Guardian when I was interning at Just Imagine while she was promoting her new children’s books, and since then she’s taken me to the theatre in London with her at least three times. I was in my element!
Lastly, as you become more experienced, make sure you apply for jobs you think are just out of reach, or for a role for a publisher you think would never even consider you – you never know! I still don’t know why I didn’t get other jobs, but what matters is someone saw my merit and now I can go back to bigger publishers later. By the end of my search, I wasn’t applying to much because I didn’t need to: I was just invited to interviews because my name was out there and my CV was being passed around companies like Orion! I think publishing is survival of the fittest – you have to really want it, because the job search will challenge you, and some will just give up and go into another industry. If you want to do that, fine, but once you’re in, you’re in!
What would a working day in magazine publishing look like? What is the most enjoyable part of your current job and equally the most challenging?
I’m one of those people who find the most challenging the most enjoyable, so I would have to say that would be liaising with our advertising staff and their clients as well as the suppliers I want to feature editorially in exchange for a prize or a product. These are the people I have to really be the ‘people person’ I am with, as it’s all about the money at the end of the day! That’s the most challenging bit – getting what you want for free, when they want the most editorial space for free! You rarely get editorial completely for free – words cost money! Other times in my day would be spent interviewing people, either on the phone or through their press team via email, and organising high res images and extract with publishers. That’s not to say we’re stealing content for our magazine; we’re just repurposing material, which is what I love about magazines – recycling content to make it accessible to as many people as possible.
Only then, when deals have been made, loose ends have been agreed, comes the writing, the actual editorial bit! I love making a story out of a feature, and really giving our Make it Today-ers and Homemakers a good read that has some meaning or inspiration. Press week is really when the editorial and proofreading skill comes in, as we’re editing right on the proofs and making changes with the designers on the Macs, from small proofreading corrections to honouring house style to completely reconfiguring the layout of a page.
It was probably the best thing I could have done to start working in magazine, as I get to talk to so many people in so many different publishing companies – I probably have more widespread contact than I would if I worked in their company, but the best thing is, if I want to get back into that, I have a great understanding of how it works from the magazine side. Plus I’ve learnt to crochet, patchwork and am going on a dressmaking course, and I can call it ‘work’!
“Don’t be afraid to ask people who have given you opportunities for more opportunities either.”
In what ways did working on the Hull University paper The HullFire equip you and prepare you for a job in publishing?
The newspaper really prepared me for a magazine job because they both demanded me to be creative with feature ideas, as well as all the business matters such as setting various people deadlines regularly and having a quick press cycle to keep up with. I also am familiar with InDesign, which is immensely useful from my time laying up endless sections of The Hullfire. I feel like I’m pretty good at crisis management too; if a contributor says on their deadline day that they decided not to contribute anything in the end, you can’t argue with that. You just rearrange your ideas and pages and swiftly drop them from your list if you can afford to!
You have experience in proofreading, editing, copywriting and blogging, amongst other things. Which would you say you enjoy the most and why?
I find it exciting to get a piece of work which is fresh to my eyes and dive in. I do a lot of copywriting, from little captions in a chatty magazine style to sustaining an engaging tone throughout a lengthy feature, but I enjoy the variation and the writing practice I get every day is great. When I’m blogging I can write whatever I want, and publish it however I want, so I love the freedom – you can probably see what I mean if you visit my blog and have a scroll through! The only problem is I don’t have a deadline for my blog, and so I like the discipline of magazine deadlines – they are clear cut, fuss-free and final.
“The publishing business is as much about personalities as it is about books.”
What recent developments in publishing excite you the most?
I love that someone who is a book journalist on the telegraph Gaby Wood can head up the Man Booker prize – there is movement within the industry, and more and more women are chosen for the big posts. I like to hear about children’s publishing due to my last internships at a children’s bookseller, new education apps from my time at John Murray Press Teach Yourself, non-fiction from my time at S&S and digital news from Endeavour, which I’m still involved with. More recently, I find it fascinating that the latest craze, adult colouring books, have become so popular – even bestsellers on Amazon! Now we’re including smaller adult colouring in books as bonus gifts with our craft magazines, and I love that there’s that crossover between art, books and magazines, as there is with almost every type of book product in the publishing industry.
The last thing I would like to add would be to put yourself out there on every level. Do you have your social media updated and relevant to publishing? Is your CV perfect and has it been checked by a HR professional on an internship? Have you got a blog that you update and promote? Don’t be afraid to ask people who have given you opportunities for more opportunities either. For example, you could shadow the team on a press night when it’s not expected of you to be there. Always say thank you, because you will be remembered for your style. The publishing business is as much about personalities as it is about books.
You can follow Rosalind on Twitter @MiniRoyMoody
You can read her blog at www.themoodymuses.wordpress.com
Please post below if you have any questions for Rosalind, and I will get them answered!