Not everyone in Publishing has a defined job title – there are a lot of freelancers and specialists who make an invaluable contribution to the industry. Sarah Franklin has kindly taken some time out of her hectic schedule to tell us a bit more.
Sarah Franklin has worked in the United Kingdom, the United States and Ireland in all aspects of book publishing : and as in-house Marketing Director, with a literary agency, and as a freelance editor. She is an associate lecturer at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies, where she teaches on the MA, Distance Learning and undergraduate programmes. Sarah hosts a weekly book review segment on BBC Radio Oxford and founded and hosts a monthly literary night in Oxford, Short Stories Aloud, which will be part of the Bath and Oxford literary festivals in 2014. Sarah’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and in the Seattle Times, the Guardian, Psychologies magazine and more.
Your twitter bio describes you as “Writer/editor/book evangelist. Publishing lecturer at #OICPS. Runs @StoriesAloud. Book reviewer on @BBCOxford Drivetime. Mum. Burbler. Tree-hugger.” Can you describe a “typical” day-in-the-life? (If there is such a thing!)
Ha! Some days you could just write ‘faffs around on Twitter’ and be done. There isn’t really a ‘typical’ day, which is part of the appeal, I suppose. If I’m teaching up at Oxford Brookes, then I head up there in the morning and go in to catch up with my colleagues, make sure I’m prepared and get ready for the teaching afternoon. Most weeks involve a day when I’m either in Oxford or London (we live between the two, on purpose) to catch up with people for whichever project is highest on the list at the time. The rest of the time, I work from home. I make a list, switch off the Internet, and try and focus. There’s a lot of reading involved (lucky me), so that tends to take place in the evenings or on the train to London.
What sort of role does social media play in your work?
Twitter in particular has been incredibly useful. It provides classic water-cooler company with kindred spirits when I’m working at home (hence the need to switch off the internet) and I’ve made some brilliant real-life friends and colleagues from it. It’s also been directly professional useful – some freelance editorial clients have come that way, and it’s a fabulous method for staying in touch with publishing colleagues from the UK and beyond (before Britain, I worked in publishing in the US and Ireland). Twitter (and, to a lesser degree, Facebook) have been invaluable in terms of communicating with an audience for Short Stories Aloud. We have a fabulously engaged audience (!) and Twitter has really been a great way of continuing the conversations that start at a show and of driving excitement about the next shows. It’s good for book reviewing that way, too; there’s a ready-made extra audience out there, in many ways.
The Man Booker is now open to a lot more authors than previously – can “British” literature really compete with “American”, and vice-versa?
Of course it can! I’m all for the prize being open to the best possible books in the English language, and it almost seems churlish, especially in this increasingly global market, to omit US authors from entry. And whilst the Man Booker is, obviously, a competition, I don’t think that we need to look at British/American audiences as being intrinsically in competition with each other. I’m an optimist; there’s room for all kinds of good writing.
What does the next year hold for Short Stories Aloud? Do you plan to head into other cities with the format?
This has been a fantastic year for Short Stories Aloud; we’ve really consolidated our audience and built a community in Oxford that I’m just ridiculously proud of. And we’ve welcomed some incredible authors, too. Our main aims are to continue to grow the Oxford show in size and strength, and to visit other cities too, even just on a guest basis. We have tentative plans to roll out the format to Bristol in conjunction with the Bristol Short Story Prize; and we’ll be guests in Stroud and at the Bath Literary Festival next March. Tons to be going on with!
What advice would you give someone looking to find work in Publishing?
I would say this because I’m biased, but the Publishing MA at Oxford Brookes gives a brilliantly wide grounding and stands our students in really good stead in terms of job vacancies. Beyond that, I’d say try and get some work experience even if it’s just a couple of weeks here and there, and apply for every single facet of publishing you think sounds even vaguely interesting. It’s such a brilliantly varied industry and there are jobs out there you didn’t even know existed until you’re doing them.
If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?
Five years ago I was working in-house in Dublin and just starting to think about moving back to the UK after seven years overseas. I think I’d tell myself to go for it, that freelancing *would* work, even with an international move thrown in and that global borders are more porous than I knew. I’d also tell myself to remember that careers can be a long game and things will start to fall into place if you just have the confidence to keep at them.
Thank you so much for giving us an insight into the life of a busy freelancer. Sarah can be found on twitter @SarahEFranklin and Short Stories Aloud is at @StoriesAloud. I personally can highly recommend SSA as a fantastic literary night out. With cake!