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What's new this month? June 2018

Friday, 29 June 2018

Our intern Elisa gives her verdict on what it's like to work at Vertebrate ...

I decided to complete work experience at Vertebrate Publishing when I was nearing the end of my first year of my English Literature degree at the University of Sheffield. I have always had publishing in my mind as a firm career option – from a young age books have been my best friend in life and I can’t think of a more exciting job than to contribute to the creation of them.  However, actual workplace experience is becoming ever more important for securing even an entry-level position in any industry, and publishing is notoriously competitive. In light of this, I thought it would probably be a good idea to get some hands on experience chalked up, sooner rather than later! I chose Vertebrate because it was local to Sheffield Uni and I thought that being in a smaller publishing house would give me an insight into all the various aspects of the process, rather than just being stuck in a corner with a pile of paperwork. I wasn’t wrong. 

Over the two weeks I have been here, I have been given both editorial and marketing tasks to work on, which has really helped me to learn about how these areas work and overlap with each other to reach that goal of getting the finished book out there on the shelves and into people’s hands. On my first day I was given a fresh manuscript that needed to be edited and I was the first person to read through it properly. Although this was slightly daunting and challenging, I really enjoyed having a go at one of the core tasks of editorial. I was also introduced to the New Harts Rules – Handbook for Writers and Editors, which opened my eyes to the complicated rules surrounding the use of hyphens, which, despite being an English student, was news to me! For me though, the real fun came when I was asked to write a blurb for the book I had edited and extract some quotes that I thought could be used on the back cover. Again, scary at first but so valuable for getting to know my strengths and what I enjoy doing. After that I was given some marketing tasks by Lorna, the marketing manager, such as writing blog posts for the website and compiling a list of questions to ask the authors of a new guidebook. 

As well as this, I also got to learn about all of the other essential processes that go into creating a finished book, such as the amazing cover and interior designs that Jane works on and the many levels of proofreading and editing (which I learned are not the same thing!) Vertebrate has a small, tight-knit team and by working in the studio with John, Camilla and Jane, I was able to observe how their various roles come together, as well as the issues that can crop up and how these are resolved. In between tasks, I was able to chat to Camilla, the editor, about what her role entails and what she enjoys the most (and the least!) about her job, and there was even time for Jane to show me some of the beautiful art work that she is in the process of editing for one of Vertebrate’s new children’s books. I even learned about licensing laws around the use of font (after I spotted a scary looking document on the pin board entitled The Hidden Risks of Font Misuse and imagined that perhaps using ‘Times’ when it should be ‘Times New Roman’ might render an entire book unmarketable. Thankfully, I was wrong.) 

Throughout my two weeks at Vertebrate, every single person here has been welcoming, friendly and helpful. Right from the first email correspondence Jon, the managing director, was friendly and helpful. He checked in with me regularly to make sure I knew what I was doing and when he wasn’t around the rest of the team were always there to make things as enjoyable as possible – whether that was friendly chats with Sophie, Jane and Camilla, helpful feedback from Lorna or pointers from John, everybody was really supportive. I was even given cake on two occasions, which definitely enhanced my experience! 

Regardless of what their individual role is, its clear that everyone at Vertebrate works incredibly hard and their passion for what they do is obvious. I really loved the team spirit and the sense that everyone is pulling together to reach a common goal. 

On my last day, Jon asked me to sum up in one word what my favourite thing about being at Vertebrate was. I hesitated as I tried to decide between all the fantastic things I had experienced over the two weeks. Sensing my difficulty, Camilla offered up ‘cake’. While this is a strong contender for second place, I would say my favourite thing about working at Vertebrate has to be the opportunity to be part of the process of publishing, even in a very small way. I have been allowed a small peak into the world of publishing and what it takes to turn a manuscript into a beautiful looking book that stands proudly on the shelves. This has been incredibly interesting and has helped me to think about my future career in publishing and which area I would like to be most involved in. Thank you so much to everyone at Vertebrate for the warm welcome, the help and support throughout my time here, the cake and those lovely flowers I was unexpectedly presented with as my last day drew to a close! 

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