How I Got Into Publishing – Interview with Sabah Khan, PR

Everyone’s journey to publishing is different and sometimes opportunities arise where you would least expect them to. We seem to think that the only way to get into publishing is by becoming an editorial assistant or working as a bookseller, but Sabah’s story tells otherwise. I first met Sabah at The Bookseller 2018 Rising Stars party and I was immediately drawn to her positive attitude and contagious enthusiasm. What I love about Sabah’s story is that her talent and open-minded approach led her to an amazing position at one of the big five, despite not actively trying to get into the industry. Opportunities are all around us, we just have to be ready to grab them!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi – thanks for having me on the blog! I’m Sabah and I’m from London – and I currently run the PR for the Avon division of HarperCollins. I’ve worked in house for just over two years now and have done lots of different things that I’m really proud of, from working on my first ever hardback campaign, to launching an initiative with the Big Issue, and helping to roll out informal support groups for women at the company here. 

I’m interested in loads of different things – reading is a big one, but I’m also massively into anything true crime related. I’ve just finished reading I’ll Be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara and it’s so brilliant… also really looking forward to the new Zac Efron film where he plays Ted Bundy. For work I tend to read a lot more fiction so it’s nice to be able to go between the two.

2. When did you know you wanted to work in publishing?

I never really knew that publishing was the goal – I just got very lucky and landed a book client while I was at an agency and I enjoyed it a lot more than I had ever enjoyed anything else. I was really happy at the agency but I knew I needed a change and when the job opportunity came up at Avon, I literally jumped at the chance.

3. How did you land your first publishing job?

My first publishing client was with The Friday Project, an old imprint here at HarperCollins. That came through an old contact from my old boss who used to work at Waterstones – and after we won that, Avon followed. When I saw the opportunity to come and actually work in-house, I knew it was for me and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

4. What is one thing you wish you had known when you were applying for jobs?

I think not to be afraid of showing how passionate and enthusiastic you are – having now interviewed multiple people for jobs, I think people are a bit scared to bring out their character in an interview when really that is the thing that sets you apart from everyone else.

5. What advice would you give to someone looking for their first publishing job right now?

Don’t give up! It is a difficult industry to crack, just like any other industry it, but if you work hard and stay at it, it will happen for you. I really believe everything happens for a reason and it all lines up in the way it’s supposed to.

Thank you for sharing you story, Sabah!

You can follow Sabah on Twitter at @Sabah_K and her work at www.avonbooks.co.uk.

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