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Work in Publishing Week: Sophia Akhtar on her Creative Access internship with Bonnier Books UK

Work in Publishing Week: Sophia Akhtar on her Creative Access internship with Bonnier Books UK

Work in Publishing Week is the annual campaign run by the Publisher’s Association to profile and celebrate the diverse career paths in publishing.

This year Bonnier Books UK is shining a spotlight on those who have been involved in its internship programme, which was launched in partnership with Creative Access in 2019. In this piece, Sophia Akhtar shares her experiences and perspectives on the publishing industry. Sophia completed her internship on the Studio Press editorial team.

“Having the opportunity to be an editor for a number of books was an amazing opportunity that I didn’t expect to take on in my first year of publishing.”

Tell us about the work you’ve been involved in during your internship?

As an editorial intern for Studio Press, I conducted a mix of administrative and editorial tasks. On the admin side, this included calendar management, collating material for meetings, taking minutes, creating presentations and updating titles on the Biblio database. This really helped me to gain an insight into the day-to-day tasks of the imprint and made me feel a part of the team. Then, on the editorial side of the job, I got to directly work on books by conducting picture research, writing copy, contacting contributors and proofreading. This not only meant that I was able to learn the editorial process, but it also helped me to pick up loads of skills which will prove useful throughout my career.

What has been the most memorable part of this experience?

As I was working within a small editorial team, I especially appreciated the opportunity to adopt responsibilities that would usually be reserved for more experienced members of the team. Having the opportunity to be an editor for a number of books was an amazing opportunity that I didn’t expect to take on in my first year of publishing. Here, I was able to see how a book went from an idea to publication and be the one to manage that. The team were also very supportive when I was a bit clueless, so it was great to learn how to be a good editor first-hand and work towards very tight deadlines!

This experience has especially helped me land my first publishing job at Simon & Schuster, where I am providing assistance on non-fiction books with similarly busy schedules!

How has the experience been working with Creative Access?

Creative Access is a wonderful community of creatives and their aim to increase diversity in the creative industries is so vital right now. Without them I would have struggled to find paid experience opportunities in the publishing industry, and they have been supportive every step of the way! Also, having other Creative Access interns at Bonnier Books UK meant that I could talk about my experiences with people experiencing the same programme. We were like a little family!

And more recently, the Creative Access mentorship scheme was especially helpful when I was nearing the end of the internship. Talking to an industry professional outside of the company really helped me to work out my next steps and land my current job as editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster!

What do you enjoy most about working in publishing?

I love books, so working in publishing has been brilliant for seeing all of the work that goes into making them. Managing projects from beginning to end has been very rewarding – and being able to hold the finished copy in your hands after months of work is amazing!

And although it is the editor that steers the project, you realise that it is actually a grand team effort and it’s the people you work with that make the job so collaborative and creative. Externally, this would include the author, illustrator and freelancers, and internally it would be the marketing, production and financial teams. These collaborations really help to shape the books and allow them to reach their full potential!

In your opinion, what does the future of publishing look like?

I think digital publishing will definitely become more significant in the publishing industry overall. It’s been amazing to see all the new ways publishing companies are reimagining digital content and being more inventive with audio, for example. Utilising digital publishing is also a great way to get bonus content to readers and really widen the proposition of a new story to tell.

Also, it’s great to see publishers working to be more diverse and inclusive – both in terms of their workforce and books. I’m really looking forward to seeing a more diverse offering regarding acquisitions, publications and award winners.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read recently?

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman!
It’s such a fun and well-written crime mystery, featuring some lovable pensioners and a murder that takes their retirement village by storm. It was wonderful to see the characters try to navigate the case and see their relationships develop through the book. Such a warm, funny and gripping book that made me smile!
I’m really excited for the sequels.