We speak to Rebecca about working in children's publishing and her love of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca.
Hi, I’m Rebecca and I am a Digital Marketing Assistant for Collins at HarperCollins where I work across our education and children’s reference lists. I’ve been working in publishing for just over a year and I’m still learning so much about both my role and this incredible industry.
How did you get into publishing?
Whilst studying for my degree, I hadn’t considered going into publishing, mostly because I knew I didn’t want to pursue a career in editorial. After third year exams, however, one of our English lecturers organised for us to volunteer at The Fowey Literary Festival and it was a week during which I had the opportunity to hear a variety of authors talk about their experiences within the industry. Interest well and truly sparked, I spent the next few months doing research and then working as a seasonal bookseller for Waterstones. The weekly email from publishers with upcoming titles soon became the highlight of my week and I quickly focused my job search on roles in marketing. I then had a couple of work experience placements at DK and HarperFiction before securing my 6-month internship with Collins, in the team where I now work.
What does a typical day in your current role look like?
School closures had a huge impact on educational publishing as we worked to provide free resources and digital content for teachers and parents so it’s been a very full-on few months. For the most part, my time is split between updating our ecommerce site, managing our schools email schedule and running our Primary schools and parent social channels.
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?
Absolutely. The enthusiasm for titles in this industry can be so infectious and I definitely now read a lot more non-fiction and contemporary literary fiction. I also love to get involved in the books everyone’s talking about in the office, the buzz around The Mirror and the Light meant half the office seemed to be reading one of the Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy in March – me included!
Is there a book that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Why is that?
I love the variety of the books I get to work on which includes phonic readers, teacher resources and children’s activity books. Some of my favourites are our Tara Binns series, they are beautifully illustrated and show Tara exploring a variety of different careers, I love the idea that they could inspire young girls to pursue careers in STEM one day.
Where do you buy or access your books?
I’m very lucky to be able to pick up a lot of books from the office and I often do book swaps with my friends and colleagues, but I can never resist buying books for long! Having worked for them I always try and support our local Waterstones, but also aim to buy from indie bookshops when I can. I love to plan indie bookshop tours for me and my friends both when visiting new cities and around London with my favourites including the London Review Bookshop, the Brick Lane Bookshop and Liberia. I’m also a sucker for the occasional ebook 99p deal it’s great when you want to try out a new genre.
What books have you been reading in lockdown?
My hardbacks! Hardbacks aren’t ideal on the commute so I’ve been taking this opportunity to try and clear the backlog, I’ve also been getting round to reading a lot of historical fiction which means I’ve spent most of lockdown switching between the 17th century and the Victorian era.
What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?
For my 18th birthday, my Mum bought me a lovely copy of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, which was the beginning of what would become my ‘Rebecca collection’. Studying the novel at university in the Daphne Du Maurier Building and then later volunteering with the Du Maurier Society at the Fowey Literary Festival meant the book took on a greater personal significance for me. I started to pick up stray copies wherever I could, whether it be charity shops, second-hand bookshops or the gorgeous editions they brought out for the 80th anniversary. I now have 13 copies, but considering it’s never been out of print since first publishing in 1938 there are still plenty more variants to find!
What is your most beautiful book?
Ohhh such a difficult decision. I would have to say the Waterstones exclusive edition of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgensten, every aspect is just stunning, the cover design, the spine, the endpapers and those sprayed edges! There aren’t many books you display with the pages facing out. I don’t read much fantasy, but they always have the most beautiful book designs – I’ve got my eye on The Court of Miracles at the moment.
What are the best books you've read in 2020 so far?
- How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
- Girl, Woman Other by Bernadine Evaristo
- The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower
- This Lovely City by Louise Hare
- Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Read
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
- Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
- Music from Another World by Robin Talley
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Educated by Tara Westover
What are your most anticipated reads for the rest of the year?
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- Ordinary People by Diana Evans
- The Foundling by Stacey Halls
- Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
- Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
- Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Where can readers find you online?
You can find me on twitter at @busybookshelves where I will probably be geeking out at marketing campaigns and beautiful books!