Sunday, 19 September 2010

Full Time Student, Part Time Freelancer

Well, on Friday I left my job. I have been working full time for the world' leading publisher for nearly a year. It was a very surreal day. The desk that I had sat at for literally hundreds of hours. The faces I saw every day. The routine. All ended!

I had a lovely send-off. My colleagues all signed a card with some really nice messages, and gave me a £30 Amazon gift voucher (which is going to be extremely handy for getting books for my course!). My girl gang (all the other editorial assistants, assistant editors, and associate editors) also got me a card, and a £10 HMV voucher (which I'm going to buy The Proposition with - they know I love films!) and some gorgeous earrings.

I've learned an awful lot over the past year, and the people I have worked with have all been brilliant. But I'm not going to miss the stress. With so many of our team members leaving recently, and it taking so long for their roles to be filled again, things became quite difficult for many of us. Though I had a lot of support, it was still a difficult time.

I had an exit interview on Friday in which I raised a few concerns. My interviewer said that the interview could either be kept confidentially on file, or that it could be shared with my managers. I thought, what's the point in doing the interview if it's just going to be put in a filing cabinet and not read? So I agreed for my managers to read it. My main concerns were about the big gaps between people leaving and their positions being filled again, and the potential for promotion. It seemed that for an assistant at my entry level, it was very possible to be promoted to assistant editor and then to associate editor, within about three years, but it also seemed that all this meant was taking on more and more responsibilities and a bigger work load, while still effectively remaining on the bottom rung of the 'team' ladder. It would have made more sense to get more assistants in once someone had reach the status of associate editor.

Furthermore, it seemed that quite a few people had to leave the company because once they got to that level, there just wasn't anywhere higher they could get to, unless an editor left. I'm sure it's the same in most publishing houses, though.

Of course, my main reason for leaving was so I could go back into education. I think it is more than likely that when I come back to work again in a year's time, I will go back into publishing. However, I think I will definitely try to get into fiction publishing instead of educational publishing. I have heard they are very different roles.

It is very, very scary knowing that I won't be getting a pay package every month. I have one more month's pay to come to me, and that will be it. Which is why I'm going to use the contacts I've made over the past year to hopefully get some freelance work. Pearson have already offered me several freelance projects, some to be completed by the end of the year, and some ongoing for 2011. I'm extremely happy about this. I know exactly how to do this work, as it is a task I often did while working there, and the money is better than if I'd been working in-house (though only marginally).

I also have a few ideas for e-courses. I want to set up some passive income streams, so I'm going to have my work cut out for me setting those up. I want to make them really, really good quality and great value for money, but very simple to orchestrate.

I had a bit of a nightmare with my university enrollment recently. It seemed that though I had been accepted by the English department, they hadn't passed my application onto the applications office, so I didn't have an official place for a while. I found this out after contacting the uni expressing my concern that I hadn't had any paperwork though. Thankfully, it was resolved and I still had my place. But I had missed the early payment discount for paying the fees, which I was quite angry about. After a few more days of waiting, I found out that because it was the university's mistake and not mine, I could still pay the discounted fee. So I have already paid my full £4300 (£200 discount for paying early). And that's all my money at the moment. My bank account now echos.

So the stresses of work have been replaced with the stresses of money. I have to keep reminding myself that 'it's only money' and that I'll be okay, but I still have a lot of major doubts about whether I'm doing the right thing. I could have gone travelling with that money, or moved out. My dream of holding my first publishing novel in my hands is what keeps me going. Doing the MA gives me a legitimate excuse not to be working full time. It gives me deadlines and people to help and encourage me. It gives me that creative mindset and environment. I'm just hoping it's enough.

I'm aiming to make at least £200 per month to pay my rent and travel fees. Hopefully I can make a little more than that. I would like to be able to have £1000 saved up by the time I finish my course so that I can move out or go travelling. Not sure how realistic that target is. I want to focus as much as possible on my course. I have taken it full time so that I don't have to be a burden on the family home for more than another year. But I still need to support myself financially and save for my future. A tricky balancing act.

Relating to that, I need to have a big think about the future of Inkspill Magazine. I want to keep the project going, but with the current structure, I'm loosing around £80-£100 per issue. Which was do-able when I was working full time, but I can't do that on a student budget. I do want to keep it as a printed publication, but I have a feeling it might have to go to print-on-demand. Which would be a real shame as this means the price will inevitably go up, which I really don't want to do. Like I say, I need to have a big think about this, and come up with a way that I can publish it without making a loss, and keeping it good value for the reader. Issue 3 is delayed for these reasons, and because I have been terribly busy recently with work and setting up for university.

Well, that's it for now. It's Sunday afternoon and I don't have those 'Sunday blues' today, knowing that for the first time in a year I don't have to go into work tomorrow. I have my induction day on campus on Thursday (getting up at 5am to get the 6am train is not going to be fun), and I believe my course officially starts in central London the following Monday. I'm very excited.


  1. Here's wishing you the very best of luck with your course, Sophie, and with all that follows. I'm sure you'll do well.

  2. Good luck with the course Sophie. I've been following your blog for a while now but for some reason have never commented or said hello (to my recollection) so what better time than now. Hello, and good luck again.

  3. The world just got a bit bigger, didn't it?

    btw, I'm passing on to you the Versatile Blogger Award. Hope you have a nice spot on the mantel for it. There are certain conditions...


  4. Wishing you the very best of luck, Sophie! And well done on being brave enough to share your exit interview with the managers. Hopefully, you'll have helped others along the way. Good luck with starting your university course.

  5. Thanks for your support Bob, Alex, Ian and Judy.

    Ian, I noticed that when I was skimming your blog a few days ago! Thanks :)

    Hi Alex! *waves* Thanks for reading and commenting.


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