My very first job in publishing was at Blackie Children’s Books, publisher of many marvellous books for children, but perhaps most notably the Flower Fairies and Topsy and Tim. One of the first tasks I was given in my role as Editorial Assistant was to take some Topsy and Tim original artwork to Jean Adamson at her house. To meet the co-author and illustrator of the very books I had grown up reading was so awe-inspiring. And helped to fix within me a love of children’s books that was to stay with me for ever … But I have to confess that I did not start out craving a career in children’s publishing. When I was offered the job at Blackie Children’s Books, my career plan (such as it was) was to give it a go – and then try something different. But from the first moment I was smitten. I loved the people you meet within children’s books, I loved the variety, I loved the energy, I loved working with both authors and illustrators. Subsequently Blackie was bought by Penguin and I had the opportunity to edit children's books within a huge, world-famous publishing company, which afforded a whole new wealth of experience. Whilst at Penguin I was offered a job at Bloomsbury Children’s Books by Hot Key’s very own Sarah Odedina and together we published many wonderful books that I look back on with enormous pride and great affection. And then, after more than 15 years at Bloomsbury, having been lucky enough to work with many extraordinary authors, including J.K. Rowling and Benjamin Zephaniah, the siren call came from Hot Key and it was finally time to move. I am so delighted to be here – it seems the perfect mix of big (ideas) and small (fleet of foot) - and I cannot wait to put some books into action!
I began my publishing life at Jonathan Cape in Bedford square, which was a bit lucky. There I worked with the some of finest and most maverick of editors, selling rights in adult and children’s books including Dahl, Steadman, Burningham, Barnes, Atwood, Irving… I was really a bit spoilt so it was hard to know where to move next. I found I couldn’t resist the call of an agency, that of Deborah Rogers far west in Notting Hill and there again, even though I was never entirely sure what my job description was, I was hovering in the vicinity of fabulous writers – Ishiguro, Rushdie, McInerney, Chatwin. But when Bloomsbury was born I knew I had to join them in the brave new enterprise, co-founded by my ex colleague Liz Calder. That was in 1987. We were small but immodest in our expectations and it was exhilarating working so hard and believing so passionately in what we were doing. When Bloomsbury started a children’s list, Sarah Odedina arrived at the same time as J. K. Rowling and I adored working with such a creative and innovative editor and her authors… my life was complete and I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to work anywhere else. I was wrong – with Hot Key the dream has begun again.
I studied Design at Chelsea College of Art followed by Typography at LCP. I interned at above-the-line advertising agency M&C Saatchi, then was hired by rivals WCRS. I later switched to publishing, designing and ghost illustrating picture books at Walker Books before moving onto teen/YA fiction covers at Random House Kids. Later, as a freelancer, I designed film posters and DVD covers for entertainment advertising agencies The Creative Partnership and Tea Creative. I decided to set-up a limited company, designing brands, websites and business-to-business marketing material. I created the Hot Key Books brand and a short while later became the Art Director.
My life in books so far has been a bit of a whirlwind, with a lot crammed into a relatively short space of time! It all started at university (UEA in Norwich), where I took a class in writing for children as part of a year abroad in the USA. It was suddenly OK for me to speak academically about a subject I thought was fundamentally important to humanity and it changed everything. Not only did I have a secret passion for reading children’s books, but getting children reading seemed to me to be the most important thing to do in life. Whatever happened, I would work in children’s books! I only had to work out what exactly I would do, and how… I started at the Millennium Library in Norwich, where I mostly worked in their children’s section, helping to run rhyme time sessions for toddlers and getting constantly distracted by reading the books I was shelving. With some help and advice along the way I came to London whenever I could to do publishing work experience placements and fell into publicity – I know now it’s the only department for me as I’m too loud for anything else! After placements at Penguin, Usborne, and Walker, I finally caught a break whilst at HarperCollins as they were short an assistant and so kept me on as an intern. From there I got a job at Random House Children’s Books, then returned to HarperCollins before making a bit of a change and joining reading charity Booktrust. I was lucky enough to work on the Waterstones Children’s Laureate PR, so spent a lot of time whisking Malorie Blackman to highly glamorous media engagements, such as BBC Breakfast, Desert Island Discs and even a Charlie Brooker show on video games! It feels right to have returned to publishing now though, and I can’t wait to make my home at Hot Key Books.
I started out working in children's publishing on the Production side at DK (where my love of Excel spreadsheets was kindled) and moved into Editorial via a stint in academic publishing at Nature Publishing Group. When I was ready to leave genetics behind I returned to the (much more fun) world of children's, with time at HarperCollins, managing the Noddy and Dr Seuss publishing, and then to Walker Books, working on fantastic pop-ups, fiction and non-fiction. Since having a baby two years ago I've been having a lot of fun working freelance, which is when I first became friends with Hot Key Books - but now I'm delighted to be working in-house with the great team here.
After leaving university with a degree in Fine Art and English Literature I honed my photocopying and filing skills in administrative roles for a couple of years (skills that have proved very useful since!) untiI deciding that my heart wasn’t really in admin, it was with books, and publishing in particular. So, I took to Twitter and followed all the publishers I could Google, eventually landing two weeks work experience at Ebury Publishing, a division of Random House (now Penguin Random House) after responding to a tweet from their Marketing department. I took two weeks holiday from my job and ventured to London to embark on what I now know was a pretty life-changing fortnight. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Marketing but the moment I started I knew it was for me, it’s all about getting stuck in, having crazy ideas and creating innovative, engaging campaigns to get people excited about reading! I was lucky enough to be offered the position of Marketing Assistant in the team straight away and started assisting on campaigns for authors like Caitlin Moran and Mary Berry. After about two years I was promoted to Marketing Executive and I got to work on some brilliant books; from a pocket-sized guide to Grammar to a guide to life from the cast of Made in Chelsea! And now I’m here at Hot Key with a new set of amazing books, you can find me in the SPAM department racking my brain for ways to get them into the hands of readers who will love them.
I started out in children’s publishing ten-ish years ago, at Bloomsbury Children’s Books, just as Harry Potter was going stellar. I worked closely on the fifth and sixth Harry Potter titles and was also lucky enough to work on books by wonderful authors like Benjamin Zephaniah, Celia Rees, Jeanette Winterson and Louis Sachar. After an extraordinary time and being there long enough to move offices twice, I left to have two children, attempt the freelance life and jam-making, realised jam-making is not all it is cracked up to be, went to work as a commissioning editor at Hodder and Orchard, and ended up at the lovely Hot Key Books.
After graduating with a much-maligned Media Production degree from Bedfordshire University I moved back to Oxford and began working for Harcourt Education. After a few years of working on school books the lure of London became too strong and I managed to land myself a position at Walker Books, working with the novelty department. Nearly six years later and with almost ten million Where’s Wally printings under my belt I found an offer I couldn’t refuse – to work in the wonderful world of Hot Key Books!
I grew up in Katwijk, a small town in the Netherlands, where I lived until I graduated from university. I studied English Language and Culture at Leiden University and went on to get an MA in Literary Translation (English/Dutch). In my final year I spent three months studying in the United States at Elmhurst College near Chicago (which explains my American accent, a thing that will forever puzzle every single person I meet). After graduation I decided to move to London in search of a job in publishing. While experiencing life in London for the first time, I did work experience at Icon Books and Penguin, had a freelance video editing job and worked on my YouTube channel Booksandquills (which I started in 2008, and my camera has been permanently attached to my hip ever since). Nine months after arriving in the city I found my dream job as Digital Coordinator at Hot Key Books. I’m glad I’ve found a place where I get to spread the word online about fantastic new books and work on creative and exciting projects with a wonderful team.
After completing a degree in History at Newcastle University, and then a Masters in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, I decided to leave academia behind and move into the much more interesting field of children’s publishing. As fate would have it, I saw an advert in The Bookseller for an Editorial Assistant position at a brand-new publishing house the day after I handed in my dissertation (Investigating Subversive Sexual Subcultures in Japan, if you’re interested), and I applied assuming I had a snowball’s chance of actually getting the position – especially when I saw the list of amazing people who would be heading the team – but hey! Here I am. I was previously lucky enough to complete some brilliant work experience with Barry Cunningham and the crew of The Chicken House, and I like to think a life-long passion for uncovering interesting stories (that’s all History is, after all) is what got me here. And as one of my tasks here at Hot Key is helping Sara O’Connor to organise work experience placements, I hope we can get some other people to where they want to be too! I acquired my first title last year after discovering the author in our enquiries account submission pile, and I'm very much looking forward to taking on some more new talent in 2014.
I started working as a Saturday girl at the magical Tales On Moon Lane, an independent children’s bookshop when I was 15. Saturdays turned into seven years, working during my university holidays and becoming more involved as weekend manager once I had graduated. Working at the shop for so long meant that I was lucky enough to read a lot of wonderful books, see all the exciting things publishers were doing, and how excited and passionate children are about the books they love. All in all I became obsessed with the whole world of children’s books. I wanted to know more about what goes on behind the scenes to create an amazing book, so I did lots of work experience at publishers, which reinforced my dream to work for a children’s publisher. I saw Hot Key Books boom onto the scene from a bookseller stance, and instantly became fascinated and so excited about what they were doing. I’ve now got my dream job working for such a dynamic, creative and unique publishing house - and I get to carry on raving about children’s books!
I first became interested in a job in publishing during my final year at university. I was studying English Literature, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do when I left, but loved the idea of having a career where I could continue to express my passion for books. My first experience of working in a publishing house was during a summer work experience placement at Bloomsbury where I worked in their Children’s Marketing department. During that time I was also volunteering at my local Oxfam shop, manning the donated books, where I made every attempt to ‘jazz up’ my section, by including, ‘staff/manager’s picks’ and ‘books of the week’ . Nevertheless, I was hoping to set my sights on gaining a more solid job in publishing and came across an amazing internship scheme, called Creative Access, where I jumped at the chance of apply for an Editorial/Marketing intern position they were advertising on the behalf of Hot Key Books. After nearly 8 months as the intern, I learnt so much about the different parts that make up publishing and had so much fun doing it, which proved that this was the right industry for me to work in. Since May 2014, I’ve officially become Hot Key’s Editorial Assistant, offering a helping hand to the sales and marketing side of the company too!