OA Louise Harvey (née Newton) (2004 to 2011) is well placed to give advice after successfully completing a degree in English Literature from the University of Leeds. Whilst at university she completed numerous work experience placements at Penguin Random House across marketing, publicity and editorial. Louise started working full-time in publishing after graduating in 2014. Louise is currently Audio Manager at Little, Brown Book Group, part of Hachette UK, one of the largest and most successful book publishing groups in the UK.
Q&A | What advice does this OA have for current Leweston pupils?
Tell us about your job, and day to day role?
My job is quite unusual and new to the publishing industry. I work across all the fiction and non-fiction titles we publish at Little, Brown. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on Sunday Times bestsellers as well as with Pulitzer Prize, Women’s Prize for Fiction and Man Booker Prize winning authors. We publish authors Robert Galbraith, Ant & Dec, Stephenie Meyer, Colson Whitehead, Donna Tartt and Margaret Atwood to name a few. Every day is different: I cast well-known actors to record the audiobooks we publish, and I work closely with authors, recording studios and the other publishing departments to bring the audiobook to life.
How valuable is work experience in career development?
Extremely. Publishing like many arts-based roles is highly competitive and there are more applicants applying then there are positions to fill. Employers want experience and most publishers want a degree. But it’s ok not to know exactly what you want to do yet. If you’re unsure what your future career might be, my advice would be to try and get work experience in areas that you enjoy (or think you might enjoy). Explore and experience as much as you can, and this will help lead you to your dream job.
What transferable skills did you gain from studying English Literature at university?
Speedreading is certainly up there! But fundamentally an English Literature degree teaches you how to think critically about a book. You learn how an author’s narrative has shaped, and indeed been shaped by, the cultural zeitgeist. Knowing how a book publication impacted an audience of readers, writers and great thinkers gives a solid understanding of how literature has evolved. Right up to the present day, books have been banned, burnt and adapted to shape new narratives. They have the power to change the world and knowing the impact the written word has is invaluable to anyone looking to work in the arts.
Any top tips for students who are just embarking on their careers?
Read as much as you can, as widely as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make full use of the resources available to you.
How did your time at Leweston impact on your career?
Leweston provided a hugely supportive environment and the lessons I learnt from our brilliant teachers have stayed with me. Our class of 2011 spent a huge amount of time in the library and to have such a wide variety of books to read was amazing. I knew quite early on I wanted to get into publishing and I’m very grateful for the advice and help I received.