Article published on April 18, 2016.
One of the things I’m most grateful for going from publishing to being published is the familiarity. Throughout the experience of being published, I’ve recognised certain surroundings and, to a point, have had an idea of what’s to come. It’s a curious sensation, especially when all the while this sense of the familiar is run through with a core of complete joy and disbelief.
Working in publishing was once described to me as an occupation for people who want to be writers but can’t. I was at first comforted by this, having not wanted to really give it a go, but then I realised how untrue it was. A year into my first job at Faber, a friend casually announced she was being published. I was blown away by it. In the years since, I’ve known a good number of writers, either published or on their way to being so, at both Faber and Scholastic. If I had to rewrite the earlier statement once told to me, I’d say publishing is an occupation for those who love everything about books. From piecing together publicity plans to dressing up as a dinosaur to writing your own novel, it’s all part of the same thing.
I wish I could say there was a moment when an author beckoned me over and whispered one piece of crucial advice into my ear. Instead, such people’s inspiration came from just being in their company. They would talk to you about writing – their own or someone else’s – and you would realise you were simply having a conversation. That, in a sense, is the encouragement publishing gives. From colleagues, to interns, to authors, there is a bustling conversation about books, and the joy in having it is the greatest inspiration of all.
I feel the biggest help my experience in publishing has been is measuring my expectations. I worry it can come off as nonchalance but (as those who heard my unprofessional yells can testify) when Quercus emailed I was more than overjoyed! As much as I want to be on the set of a movie adaptation or sell my billionth copy, I know that publishing is unpredictable. This helped me focus and to look at the work in front of me, harking back to the words of friends, family and those authors I admire greatly, and just write.