Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Final Chapter

Today is not only my last day in my current job, but the end of a ten year stint working in the publishing world. My career in books began back in 1998, when I took a job at Waterstone's in Richmond after graduating from Roehampton. At the time, I envisaged it being a fun summer job to see me through until something more 'serious' came along. But apart from the terrible pay, a bookshop is a nice place to work, and I ended up staying with the company for two years, transferring to the Brighton branch in 1999.

I met many good friends, and a husband, during my time with Waterstone's, but the penniless lifestyle eventually started to take its toll, and I began browsing the Bookseller for publishing jobs (it seemed like the natural next step). Frances Lincoln was the first place to offer me an interview, and I took the job of Publicity Assistant, even though I had always fancied myself more as editorial material. FL was a wonderfully friendly and creative company, but Kentish Town is a long commute from Brighton and so after two years and a couple of promotions, I moved on to Orion in Covent Garden.

During my time in children's books, I worked with many interesting authors, and travelled all over the country doing launches, festivals and signings. One of the most memorable moments of these jaunts was during Cheltenham Literary Festival, when several of the other publishers' publicists and I had organised a dinner at the hotel for all our authors. It was so over-subscribed that we ended up sitting on a separate table outside the main dining room, along with one of the authors' husbands, who was only too glad to escape the drunken bombasting of twenty-plus writers all clamouring for each others' attention. "Well I..." "Well I..." "Well I" came the rowdy refrain from our garrulous charges as we peeked in to check on them occasionally.

The frequent weekends away were fun, but draining, especially when I was no longer allowed to take Ant along with me to events and we were hardly seeing each other. So when a job came up closer to home at John Wiley in Chichester, I stepped into the completely contrasting world of academic publishing. My final (for the foreseeable future) publishing job here at GMC brought me into an entirely different sphere again - working on an eclectic list of craft books that encompasses everything from knitting to dolls' houses to woodturning. It's certainly been an interesting experience learning about all those things, although I am sorry to say I have failed to master any of them!

I'll still be reviewing children's books for Carousel magazine - so the publishing world has not seen the back of me completely, but as from tomorrow I shall be leaping head-first into the mysterious and exciting world of Online PR to earn my daily bread. Wish me luck.


  1. I skimmed this post first, rushing to get to the end & expecting you to say you were hitting the road with some esoteric Icelandic band as their tour photographer for the next 9 months...

    Actually, thankfully you didn't...

    I remember those early bookselling days you mention quite fondly (given the frustration it caused at the time) but, as I recently discovered, it's a lot different now & I wouldn't want to go back permanently.

    Best wishes with your new venture from this quiet, cold, but sunny, corner of Bristol...

  2. Thanks Shaun. I think I'd miss my cats too much to be a tour photographer...and don't think they'd like it much on the road.

    Hopefully now I'll be less cynical about books and get back into reading them a bit more again!

  3. Hey Rowan. I loved being one of your authors and touring Edinburgh, Brighton etc, with you and Ant. We had some good times. Best of luck in the new venture! Vale.

  4. Well, an online move would seem to be the most logical one for you.

    Very best of luck with the new position and I'm glad to hear that people are still getting new jobs despite the 'economic gloom' at the moment...!

  5. Hey - good luck! I hope it's a refreshing and exciting change.


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