When I asked Louise to take part in this series I knew she was going to put her heart and soul into it, because that’s how amazing she is. The first time I met Louise she gave me a big hug and officially welcomed me to the SYP family. She was the London Chair of the society in 2017 and has been a power house in the publishing industry, championing audio in her role as Audio Editor at Hachette. She is also part of the editorial board of Bookmachine among other things, where she continues to drive the conversation around audiobooks both online and through events. One of the things that I love the most about Louise’s story is that it highlights the importance of finding a job that you are passionate about. Make sure you grab a cup of tea and get ready to take notes: you’re in for a treat!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi there, my name is Louise! I’m based in audiobook publishing and I’m currently the Audio Editor for Hachette Audio, a part of Little, Brown Book Group. I love my job because it has so much variety, I get to work on fiction and non-fiction titles across all imprints at Little, Brown. My job is hugely eclectic in that it follows the publishing process from start to finish: from attending acquisition meetings, to casting and working with studios on recordings, right through to ensuring that digital files have reached retailers in good time ahead of publication and that marketing and publicity have anything additional (author interviews, etc) they need.
I keep myself busy outside of my day job: I sit on BookMachine’s editorial board, commissioning articles from the perspective of studios, producers and other audio publishers with the aim of shedding light on this exciting, growing area of publishing. You can find me at BookMachine events (I’ll be chairing BookMachine’s first-ever #Unplugged audio publishing discussion later this year) and I lend a hand where I can at events with The Royal Society of Literature.
Other than that, I’m usually exploring different boroughs of London and finding pubs to visit, books and book totes in tow! I’m also actively involved in the art of ‘tsundoku’ or ‘the act of buying a book and leaving it unread, typically next to a pile of other unread books’.
2. When did you know you wanted to work in publishing?
I knew I wanted to get into publishing quite early on. Growing up I aspired to work in a creative industry and aged sixteen I stumbled across Penguin Books’ website and their ‘How to get into publishing’ guide and knew it was for me. A job where you get to talk about books all day – amazing! Knowing that I wanted to work in audio publishing came later, but the signs were there early on. I loved listening to books on cassette and had an Audible account. I was actively involved in my university’s radio society and as part of an internship for Marks & Spencer I had a small hand in the audio production side of a promotional film. I didn’t consider a role in audio publishing until I first saw an Audio Assistant role being advertised at Little, Brown and knew that the job description suited me perfectly. From doing as much work experience as I could manage and my first job in publishing, I’d realised that variety was always going to be a really important factor for me, and you can’t get much more of that than in audio publishing!
3. How did you land your first publishing job?
I managed to get work experience placements in publishing (almost all of which were at Penguin Books) during my university years, earning money where I could and staying with family. I knew it would be really competitive to land that first role, so upon graduating I moved straight to London and worked seven days a week whilst hunting for my first publishing job. A few months later I accepted my first publishing job offer as an Editorial Assistant for a small educational publisher. I’m so grateful for that first role, as I learnt a huge amount from a supportive team over the course of two years. Strangely enough part of my Editorial Assistant role involved me visiting recording studios and ensuring that the publishers’ ELT titles were recorded to a high standard as well as regularly recording and editing podcasts…and then I found audio publishing!
4. What is one thing you wish you had known when you were applying for jobs?
I wish I had realised sooner that there were publishers out there other than Penguin Random House and Faber & Faber. They’re fantastic publishers, but they’re not the only ones. Working for smaller publishers when you’re starting out is so rewarding because you often get more opportunity to make your own mark. Assistant roles at small publishers tend to be very broad, which gives you a good chance of realising where you want your career to take you early on.
I also would have loved to have watched this video from Leena Normington! She makes an excellent point of recommending that you take a look at your bookshelf to find other publishers to apply to: make stacks of the books that you enjoy by publisher (look at the imprint page at the front of the book to find this out) and see which piles of books are the tallest. There will undoubtedly be a lot of orange Penguin logos among the stacks, but what about the others?
5. What advice would you give to someone looking for their first publishing job right now?
Don’t give up! And follow your instincts. Obviously if you’re interested in publishing, you’ll be trying to get publishing experience, but depending on where you’re based publishing work experience opportunities can be few and far between. Having experience from another industry is no bad thing: if you see an opportunity that intrigues you, but that isn’t directly related to publishing, still see it as a chance to pursue an area you enjoy.
For example, learning how to effectively use social media during work experience, an internship or another job, is a relatable skill and a useful one. Reaching readers is something editors think about all the time when they discuss books at acquisition. They want a book that will appeal to readers and that will sell – publishing is ultimately a business and in the case of audio predominantly an online one. Turn your hinterland into an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the crowd (no publisher’s journey is the same, so embrace your differences) and keep an open-minded attitude to the chances that come your way. Remember that publishers love passionate people: passion sells books and will help sell you in interview!
Finally, get on Twitter if you’re not already, it’s a great place to network and meet likeminded people. Don’t post about your drunken night out, keep it focussed and keep your profile public. Share books you’re reading and enjoying. Turn on notifications for accounts you’re interested in. The Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and Pub Interns are great places to start and following the hashtag for different books really gives you an idea of how publishers publish and engage with each other which is super useful. All the different areas of publishing interconnect: understanding and being aware of the different components is important for anyone wanting a career in publishing.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and all these amazing tips, Louise!
You can connect with Louise on Twitter here and she’s happy to answer any questions around audiobook publishing!