In March I had the opportunity to visit one of the UK’s most prestigious publishing houses with New Writing North Young Writers and a group of young people also interested in publishing and writing.
The world of publishing has always seemed like a mysterious place to me. What job opportunities are available? What does the average workday look like? And, if you’re a writer, what’s the process of having a book published? So, to have the opportunity to hear from different members of the Faber & Faber team AND learn the process of publication from manuscript to release day, was something that I didn’t want to miss.
We had a quick meeting via Zoom with everyone coming on the trip. We all introduced ourselves, were given a run-down of the schedule, and were sent a copy of Your Show which we would be hearing more about from the Faber team.
Soon it was the morning of the trip. It was a struggle to drag myself to Newcastle train station for 7:30am but I made it and despite the early start, the energy of the group was very uplifting. I think we were all excited to meet people offline and experience in-person opportunities again. We had time to grab a coffee and then we were on our way to London! Your Show was great company for the three-hour journey.
The sun was beaming down in London despite it being the middle of March, which made the short walk to the Faber office even more enjoyable. Once we arrived, we were greeted by Rachel, who is Faber’s Communications Director. Once we were settled with a drink and snack, Rachel gave us some background on Faber & Faber and a quick run through of the publishing process.
Next, we were introduced to Angus who works in editorial. Angus spoke about what he looks for in a manuscript and what catches his eye, the different kinds of edits he makes, and specifically what it was like working on Your Show. It was inspiring to see how passionate editors can be about the manuscripts they’re working on. Then Josh covered marketing and publicity. It was particularly interesting to hear how Faber had changed their strategy in response to Covid and lockdowns with more added pressure on online content. Next, we covered design and book covers with Pete. He showed us some of the covers he had worked on and then showed us the variations of Your Show which didn’t get chosen for the final copy. In another life where I’m good at design, I’d love to work on book covers. Jude and Kate then spoke to us about production, which links quite closely with design. You wouldn’t believe the number of shades of cream that are available for book paper! The sales duo Mallory and Sarah then shared some exciting stories about sales around the world and the differences between pitches depending on who and where you’re selling a book.
We ended the day meeting author Ashley Hickson-Lovence and received a hardback copy of Your Show. Angus chaired a relaxed interview with him where we heard about his inspiration for Your Show, the process of writing it, his experience with publishing, and his future plans! Afterwards, Ashely read an excerpt from the novel. The sections he chose were very rhythmic and powerful, and it was amazing to hear the words read by the mind that wrote them.
Once we had the opportunity to ask Ashley any questions and had our books signed, it was time to say our goodbyes and walk back to the station. We stepped back into the hustle and bustle of London; heads full of information that was still processing. It was a non-stop day and a fantastic experience.