This is a guest post from Fiz Osborne. Fiz is Senior Editor on the Illustrated Publishing list at Bloomsbury Children’s Books, commissioning both authors and illustrators. You can follow Fiz on Twitter @FizOsborne (photo credit: Lucy Hunter)
I really like listening to people talk about publishing! If they pique my attention, I will soak up their words like a sponge and love them for it. Bloomsbury sent me on a brilliant course at the beginning of 2014 – then it was called the Publishing Fusion Workshop, but this year they re-named it Creative Entrepreneurship – which pulled together a great mix of inspiring people to give talks. By the end of it every single person on the course was buzzing. I like following people like Chris McVeigh on Twitter because of his just do better attitude and whenever I go to a Bookseller conference or a BookMachine event I leave feeling galvanised.
I’m a natural sharer, so I enjoy talking over ideas with people, challenging them on things or letting them challenge me. I love the feeling of someone opening my eyes to something I’ve not really considered before, and the positivity that comes from those conversations flows directly into my job.
2. Constructive complaining
Publishing is not a perfect industry. Of course it’s not. But it’s also not the completely privileged, stuck-in-the-old-ways industry that it’s sometimes made out to be. There are so many brilliant people working in publishing – people who are inspiring, innovative and changing the game for all of us.
So I get a bit bored of reading critical opinions about publishing that lack any sort of constructive element. Want to aimlessly complain? I don’t really feel inclined to listen. Want to share solutions to problems you feel passionate about? Now that’s interesting.
The thing is, I probably hear plenty of rants that actually contain valid opinions, but I’m so bogged down by the aggression/negativity/lack of specialist knowledge/defeatist attitude (delete as appropriate or circle all) that I just can’t find the point hidden amongst it. So if we’re going to complain, let’s think about what we can do to make even the smallest positive change. Let’s support each other. Let’s be constructive.
I have a friend who works in PR and, every few months, she meets up with her professional mentors. These aren’t people she works with directly – or at least, not any more – they’re people who have played an important role in her career and whose opinions she respects. In some capacity, this sort of mentor relationship may exist in the publishing industry – I just don’t know about it. But I would love to meet up with my career idols once every few months and chat with them. In last week’s edition of the Bookseller, Baroness Gail Rebuck was quoted saying “Now is the moment to make sure we have the best policies in place to ensure we encourage . . . C.E.Os of the future” and this quote really stayed with me. Because what could be more valuable to a young person than the time and guidance of someone they truly look up to?