We speak to Tanja about entering the publishing industry during the lockdown and her reading recommendations.
Hi there! My name is Tanja Goossens, originally from the Netherlands but living in London since 2017. I have been in the publishing industry since November 2020 and am now Translation Rights Executive at Curtis Brown.
How did you get into publishing? My road to publishing was pretty long. I graduated in 2012 from my Bachelor in Media & Communication in the Netherlands and worked in television until 2017. I then moved to London and worked in public relations and as a bicycle tour guide. The TV industry wasn’t really for me, even though I did love my job, and realised I wanted a change. In March 2018 I got accepted for a part-time Masters in Publishing Media at Oxford Brookes University. From early 2020 I actively started applying for jobs in publishing, but of course COVID-19 changed it all and there were basically no jobs available between April and July. I started applying again in August, received dozens of rejections, interviewed with six companies and in the meantime found temp work with rights consultancy Rights2. I believe this helped me in my application process as I got invited for a test, and later an interview, with Curtis Brown. I was over the moon. They hired me in December 2020 as their Translation Rights Executive which is where I am now, and hope to stay for a long time.
How has working under lockdown conditions changed your role?
I started my role with Curtis Brown just before the Christmas lockdown and therefore started remote. I was lucky enough that everyone had already adjusted to this, so my training was really smooth. I must admit though, I felt knackered in the first week, not just from taking in all the training, but mostly doing it from a screen instead of face to face. It’s something you get used to quickly though!
Has your attitude to reading changed since working in the publishing industry? Has it changed your reading taste or the genre of books you usually read?
Yes, definitely. During my job application process, I tried to read as widely as possible, covering all agencies and publishers. I did still read the books I would normally read, but I tried to read different genres too. Normally, my shelves would be overflowing with romance and thrillers, but I now added more upmarket and literary fiction to the list, with an occasional children’s or YA book.
Where do you buy or access your books?
Local bookshops, Amazon (sorry!) for my Kindle, NetGalley and charity shops.
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?
Because I was preparing for job applications during lockdown, I have definitely found myself reading different authors and genres. I think a lot of people were in need of a lot of uplifting stories, and even though I was too, I did read quite a bit of literary fiction and dark thrillers.
What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?
Both were gifted over Christmas actually. A couple of years ago my boyfriend gave me Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him by Tracy Borman (I have a tiny Tudor obsession), and last Christmas one of my best friends got me The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, which I’ve been dying to read.
What is your most beautiful book?
Thinking about beautiful stories, I think about books that have really touched me. The ones that really stand out are If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman, The Sight of You by Holly Miller and You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac. I'm not afraid to say I have shed quite a few tears over their endings.
What surprises you about your bookshelves? Is there a book that you were surprised to love as much as you did?
I’m used to and love fast-paced reads which are very plot-driven. Over the last year, I have learned to appreciate a wider range of stories; I was pleasantly surprised by Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Inferno by Catherine Cho, and Normal People by Sally Rooney.
What are your most anticipated reads for the rest of 2021?
There are too much to pick from already! I think I’m particularly excited for Hannah Beckerman’s new novel, The Impossible Truths of Love, Hostage by Clare Mackintosh, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. I’m probably still forgetting a lot of them!
What are your book recommendations?
For lovers of a good thriller, anything by Clare Mackintosh, Deborah Masson, Louise Candlish, Harriet Tyce or Lucy Foley is great. For romance and uplifting novels, anything by Catherine Isaac or Beth O’Leary. And other more specific titles, any of the earlier mentioned books plus Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes.
Where can readers find you online?
For mostly bookish related posts, find me on Twitter.