Caroline speaks to The Publishing Profile about remote working alongside her MA.
Hi! I’m Caroline Guillet and one of my many hats is as a part-time Book Production Executive for the Untold Publishing Group. I work on the formatting and typesetting of manuscripts for our various imprints, from memoirs to dystopian and young adult fantasy novels. I will also be graduating next September with an MA in Digital Publishing from Oxford Brookes University – the most amazing experience of my 23 years so far! On the side, I volunteer at the SYP as a student liaison officer for the Oxford branch.
How did you get into publishing?
I think, like most people in the industry would say, I kind of ‘fell’ into publishing. As cliché as it sounds, as a reader and booklover, I was intrigued by many aspects of the publishing chain, from production to publicity and marketing. However, what truly got me into publishing was my degree, the various connections I have made through my lecturers are priceless.
What does a typical day in your current role look like?
My part-time role has always been remote working, ever since I started there as an intern at the beginning of the year – I have actually never met my ‘boss’ in real life! Untold Publishing being an independent publisher, most of the workforce has several hats, but as long as I stick to my deadlines, I am quite flexible in the way I work. In-between typesetting manuscripts and geeking around book metadata, I am also writing my MA dissertation which takes up quite a lot of time!
Has your attitude to reading changed since working in the publishing industry? How has it changed your reading taste or the genre of books you usually read?
Since being fully immersed in the industry, I would say that I read a lot more. I believe that is because I am exposed to so many amazing books, through daily newsletters and weekly magazines for example. I am also much more open to new genres and learnt how to step out of my comfort zone more often. I have rediscovered a forgotten love for non-fiction, especially since so many of them became international bestsellers.
Where do you buy or access your books?
I love visiting bookshops for some reading inspiration as I am obsessed with beautiful book covers. I am very much looking forward to my first time back into a bookshop, possibly next week. However, I am also guilty of buying most of my books online, as I mainly read on my Kindle Paperwhite for convenience. I am quite frustrated not to be able to expose all my recent reads on my bookshelf, so I am planning to hunt down my local charity shops looking for print versions of all my Kindle books.
What books have you been reading in lockdown? Do these books typify your usual reading taste, or have you found yourself reading other genres and authors?
I am absolutely passionate about consumer behaviour and insights, so I was very excited to attend many webinars organised by Nielsen about genre/format preferences during lockdown. Personally, back in March, I started reading back to back romance sagas, I really needed something light with which I could easily escape. Later, for the first time ever, I became obsessed with Agatha Christie’s novels; this appeared to be a massive and constant trend in the book market throughout lockdown.
What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?
When I was about ten, I received two books from Meg Cabot which were part of her Princess Diaries series. After leaving them on the side for a while, I picked them up again as a teenager and got addicted to the story and its characters. As of today, I have read the entire series three times, including all spin-offs (just over 15 books). An ideal gift will be kept and cherished forever, and that is what these books are for me.
What is your most beautiful book?
One of my coffee table books, Cordially Invited, by Zoe Sugg. I love beautifully produced and illustrated books that I can keep for decoration but also pick up occasionally – even more so now that I know all the hard work behind the production of these books.
What is the oldest book on your shelf?
Sadly, on my own – and small – student shelf, the oldest would only be a 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone edition. Back home, I am fascinated by some of our books published back in the 19th century, some of the pages are not even cut, and the covers are made of unique materials.
What surprises you about your bookshelves? Is there a book that you own that you were surprised to love as much as you did?
It is so varied, and even more so since lockdown. I have some romance paperbacks, cookery books, anthologies, memoirs, children’s books, and at the moment a lot of academic titles for dissertation reference. What I love the most about my books is where they come from; from buying them myself, to gifts from family, friends and previous employers. I also have a few books published by family members, many generations ago, that I was able to access through POD.
Which authors or genres do you look forward to reading more of in the future?
I want to read more non-fiction, especially memoirs, as they shape my understanding of our changing world. One of my objectives during lockdown was to get into audiobooks, which I still have not yet managed to do – I am either reading a book or listening to a podcast – so that’s on my list.
What are the best books you've read in 2020 so far?
Dolly Alderton’s memoir, Everything I know about Love, was eye-opening, and her wit and humour managed to carry very heavy topics. I loved the Cockleberry Bay saga featuring a cosy Devon seaside town (and a dog named Hot)! Anything written by Beth O’Leary was a delight to read too, such as The Flatshare or The Switch.
What are your most anticipated reads for the rest of the year?
I am very excited but mostly intrigued about Zoe Sugg’s upcoming crime/mystery novel The Magpie Society, as it was co-written with her previous editor. In terms of non-fiction, I am looking forward to reading Louise Pentland’s MumLife, I am definitely not the primary audience for it, but really enjoy the positivity she reflects across her social media channels.
Which books should everybody read?
In general, I think everyone in life should have the opportunity to read a book that completely resonates with them. I have had many books through the years who came at a time where I needed escapism, help, hope or just a good laugh. Everyone should read Agatha Christie’s fantastic crime novels and Liane Moriarty for her incredible way to unpick ‘perfect lives’ through delightful novels.
You can find Caroline on Twitter @GuilletCaroline and LinkedIn. You can also follow her blog where she shares her Oxonian journey: https://myoxonian.wixsite.com/myoxonian (and @myoxonian on Instagram).