How I Got Into Publishing – Interview with Sahina Begum, Marketing

When I first started this blog, I was aware that a lot of my publishing colleagues had their own websites where they shared book reviews, tips and their views on the industry. However, I had never thought that this could be a way into publishing. It does make a lot of sense now: the industry is very competitive, so anything that you have done or worked on that can showcase your skills and your passion for books, will help. Although Sahina’s blog wasn’t the sole reason why she managed to get into publishing, it did help her to discover the industry and identifying the areas she’d like to work in. As well as her story, Sahina was kind enough to share some great tips and tricks for anyone looking to get their first job into the industry, so get ready to take notes!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hiya, my name is Sahina! I’m currently the Marketing Executive at Bonnier Books UK, working on adult fiction titles across all genres from women’s fiction to crime. I love all things creative with a lot of my passions expressing bits of my personality. I love photography and also work as a freelance photographer mainly for events, as well as having a huge interest in design work through using Photoshop, with focus on graphic design. I also have a book review blog and bookstagram account (both which I’ve sadly not had time to attend to!) but I do coding for my book blog and write reviews. Aside from that, I do the usual. Eat everything in sight, buy books despite having a huge to-be-read pile and enjoying sleeping away my weekend. 

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

Growing up, jobs in publishing were never at the forefront of career path options in my education or outside of it. It was only during the summer before I started university where I was due to start my course in Criminology, I had 3 months to relax – and decided to start a book review blog. It was through there that I discovered the publishing industry when PR would get in touch with me to send me books for review and for blog tours. That time period opened my eyes to publishing and from that moment, I knew I’d love to make that my career path. Naturally, given my passions and interest for creative things, I also knew that marketing or PR are the sectors that would be most enjoyable and suited to me. 

3. How did you land your first publishing job?

This is actually my first publishing job! Everything else before now, were unpaid and paid internships, and a fixed term temporary contract. My first paid internship was a 6 month role at an academic publisher, SAGE publishing as a Digital Content Assistant. I landed this role through Creative Access, an amazing agency for BAME candidates looking for roles in the creative sector. They were brilliant in helping me search for roles and prep me for interviews. 

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

I wish I’d known to ask for more opportunities to really showcase my skills and interest. When you’re new to publishing, with no prior experience and coming from a completely different discipline (in my case, a Criminology background) it is hard to find your place in publishing. I did a lot of unpaid internships and did everything that was given to me – but didn’t take the time to ask for more roles that I was interested in to expand my skills and to showcase what I was capable of. I did learn to do that as I did more internships, but it would have served as a more useful thing for me when I first started out, so that I could learn as much as I could from my internships and work experience and come away feeling like I got as much out of those roles as I could. 

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

Don’t give up! As cliche as it absolutely is and probably something you’ve heard over and over again, but it’s vital to keep going. It is admittedly very competitive in the publishing industry, but perseverance is key and to make sure you take something from every experience – from feedback, constructive criticism, to just honing your interview skills to nail it the next time you have one. Other things that I’ve found have been very useful in my search for jobs:

  • Take the time to tailor your CV and cover letter for every job, it makes the world of difference and really shows in your application.
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative! My cover letter was a script that I had written myself, and each ‘question’ asked in the script was tailored depending on the job description. Publishing is a creative industry, trial out different styles to see hat suits you best, shows off your personality as well as your skills.
  • Do your research. Be thorough. Interviewers will know when you’ve done the work and taken the time to learn about their books and titles and it can go that extra mile.
  • Network with as many individuals as you can, don’t be scared to reach out first and get in touch with publishing people, we’re super friendly, I promise! While knowing people in the industry won’t land you a job, it’s a stepping stone to get help and spread the word about your interest in a job and works well for recommendations if someone else as a role going. Plus, you make friends! 

Thank you Sahina for sharing your story!

You can follow Sahina on Twitter at @Line_Reader.

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