Opening my emails to find that Sweet Cherry Publishing had offered me a week’s work experience at their company filled me with relief and, more importantly, excitement. Nowadays, the hunt to find publishing work experience is like finding a diamond in the rough, a needle in a haystack… or any other cliché for ‘extremely difficult’.
After going to a seminar about publishing at Aberystwyth University, I already had an indication that large publishing companies would give you the tea-making tasks while smaller companies are more likely to allow a hands-on experience; in this case it proved to be true! I was firstly introduced to Lara Clift (head of the Sales team) and the rest of the team in the various different departments. As Sweet Cherry is a small publishing house, I noticed that a lot of the roles overlapped and I warmed to the friendliness and hard-working ethos of the team.
I started off in the marketing and publicity department and worked with Jess, the publicity and sales executive, who firstly introduced me to the IPG SkillsHub to learn about the key aspects of marketing, publicity and sales, which was invaluable for me to understand before I completed any live tasks. My jobs were then to write a blog post for their website about the best books of 2017, prepare labels sending out the new Sweet Cherry Catalogue, schedule tweets to anticipate national days and my favourite task – taking photos for Instagram for the spring campaign.
I then moved onto the Sales and Rights department with Lara to research international territories, such as, Australia and Singapore to compile a spreadsheet about the state of the market and the main distributors in that area.
I have thoroughly appreciated my experience at Sweet Cherry Publishing as this has given me a valuable insight in the publishing world and has reinforced my career aspiration of working in children’s publishing. I will particularly miss the enthusiastic and welcoming team members who made the work experience all the more enjoyable.
Joanne Butlin is a third-year Creative Arts student at Aberystwyth University.
From arriving at the Sweet Cherry office on a crisp winter morning in December knowing nothing about the publishing industry (I mean, they make books?) to leaving on a Friday evening with a thorough knowledge of the journey a manuscript takes through the various stages of the publishing house machine to emerge as a lovely, professional book. Work experience is normally associated with endless photocopying and tea-making, but my week at Sweet Cherry was far from that. My tasks during the week have ranged from compiling a report on the Lithuanian publishing market to choreographing photographs for Sweet Cherry’s Instagram account.
When I arrived, unsure of what I’d be doing, I was instantly greeted by friendly smiling faces which dispelled any worries and set the tone for the relaxed environment I was to be working in for the week. The beauty of working at a smaller publishing house is that you are set real tasks with responsibility. Not only that but I was able to tailor my placement to suit my interests. As I was studying languages, I worked with Lara, to promote sales with international markets, as well as gaining an insight into marketing and domestic sales in the UK with Jess.
Foreign rights showed me that the legal and business elements make up a large part of the publishing industry. When exporting internationally, diligent research is necessary to take into account political, cultural and economic considerations. I was given research tasks on marketing trends in various territories, such as America, Canada and Lithuania. Also, I completed online courses on a range of aspects of the industry, such as how to pitch books to distributors or exporting to foreign markets. I was even able to sit in during a sales meeting, as the team discussed their strategy for launching the publicity campaigns for their next books.
Through working with Jess in publicity, I gained an insight into just how vital presentation is and how the development of a successful social media platform is essential. While Instagram appears to be a website for people to post pretty holiday pictures of themselves, it’s actually also a business platform that requires diligent cultivation and a thorough strategy and design layout. Another task was to write an article on the Sweet Cherry blog about upcoming books in 2018. It was fun to research and use my own creative flair in writing.
It was rewarding to work for a company that had a genuine ethos towards helping the community by bringing books to disadvantaged children, as opposed to a multi-national solely driven by financial profit. The team at Sweet Cherry meticulously edit the wording of the manuscripts, assemble the covers and fine-tune the illustrations, in order to create the best products for children.
This week hasn’t only been something to add to the classic CV in the universal pursuit of undergraduates to end the catch-22 of experience for employment. I’ve also gained and solidified tangible skills; I’ve experienced inputting contacts and data into a CRM, a universal programme used by companies, improved my researching skills and learnt how to professionally edit photos in photoshop. As for tea-making, I’ve not made a single one during my time here, in fact I’ve even had 2 made for me, although maybe that speaks more about the generosity of the Sweet Cherry staff and my laziness than anything else!
Laura Hunt is a first year French and Spanish student at the University of Durham.