Sunday 20 May 2018

My Work Experience at Shoestring Press

By Sonia Tailor

Whilst studying my MA in Creative Writing at University of Leicester, I had gained an interest in the book publishing industry. In order to work in that field, I knew I needed to gain some experience first. I was faced with the daunting task of applying for internships. One afternoon, whilst I was filling out a long application form, I received an email advertising an intern role at Shoestring Press.

I researched the independent publishing house and saw that it specialises in publishing poetry sequences and collections. This sounded appealing to me and I sent a letter to John Lucas, the publisher. Around a week later, I received call from him and we arranged a meeting. John kindly guided me through the different processes and encouraged me to get involved as much as possible.

I was provided with the opportunity to build brilliant work relationships with a variety of people, including writers. I had frequent meetings with one writer in particular, Alan Brownjohn. We would meet in coffee shops in London and discuss different ways to promote his novel, Enjoyment. This included having it reviewed by newspapers and magazines. John provided me with the contact details of the editors. I wrote a persuasive press release and began phoning and emailing them. It was an exhilarating feeling when I saw the first review published on London Grip. Although not everyone was interested, the experience gave me an insight into how the marketing side of publishing works.

I also had a number of admin tasks to do. For example, John asked me to arrange the location of Miriam Neiger-Fleischmann’s book launch. I learnt how to contact venues and deal with a variety of people. This helped strengthen my communicational skills. When I was at the launch, I was happy with the large turnout. It made me feel proud knowing that I helped with the arrangement of the event.

John also opened me up to the sales side of publishing. I was asked to assist with Shoestring Press’s stall at States of Independence, a book fair held in the East Midlands. I sold a number of books and pamphlets. It enabled me to meet more people who had a genuine passion for books. Furthermore, I was responsible for introducing two key speakers who had their poetry collections published by Shoestring Press. It was extremely exciting.

The experience was helpful and rewarding. It developed my transferable skills and gave me a true insight into how a successful publishing house is run. Plus, there was every book lover’s dream: free books!

About the author
Sonia Tailor studied an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. She is a peace activist who enjoys writing short stories and monologues. She has organised vigils and demonstrations, and in 2007, she travelled to Jordan to make a documentary about Iraqi refugee children. She currently runs a book blog on Instagram: @soniareads. 

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