Wednesday, 11 October 2017

MY PUBLISHING LIFE with Rebecca Gray

Welcome to my latest MY PUBLISHING LIFE feature, an interview with a literary agent, publisher, publicist or editor about their publishing career to date. Some serious questions, and some just for fun!

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


Head of Fiction Publicity
Orion Publishing

What and when was your first job in publishing?
I started at Midas PR in 2002 as an Admin Assistant. 

How long have you been working in your current job/role?
I’ve been Head of Fiction Publicity at Orion Publishing for about a year, but I worked in the company as Publicity Manager and Senior Publicity Manager for nine years before that. 

Which books have you worked on recently/are you working on?
I’m currently working on an amazing debut called FEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit, which we’re publishing in January 2018 and is getting an extraordinary reaction from booksellers – it’s the most original literary debut of 2018.  Another exciting debut for 2018 I’m working on is THE LIDO, which we’re publishing in May.  Recently I did the campaigns for GREATEST HITS, Laura Barnett’s follow-up to THE VERSIONS OF US, HISTORY OF WOLVES which has just been longlisted for the Man Booker prize, and I also run the in-house publicity for Ian Rankin. 

Which qualifications/life skills/experience have helped you get to where you are today?
I read English at the kind of university that more or less leaves you to get on with it yourself and definitely expects you to form your own opinions without much assistance, and I’ve found that very useful in being able to talk confidently about books to journalists and booksellers.  In terms of being a publicist, you really have to learn it on the job – every time you do a campaign you learn something new, and the business of making and selling books changes so regularly that you have to rethink your approach constantly. 

How do you relax after a busy working day?
I have two children so my version of relaxation is different to some other people!  I make sure I get home to read them a bedtime story and listen to their day, which helps me switch off, and I love running as well.  I also sing in a choir and listen to a lot of music.  And, busman’s holiday as it may seem, reading is the thing I love to do most in the world. 

What was the last book you read for pleasure?
I’m currently reading WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES (I’m late to that party), which is incredible in terms of marrying an unusual structure and narrative style to a compelling story.  I read LINCOLN IN THE BARDO on holiday, which is one of the most moving novels I’ve read for a while.  I thought the structure might be off-putting, but he never lets it get in the way of the story. 

Describe your job in 15 words or less...
When you read, see or hear about a book in the media, that was my work.  (That’s sixteen words but I hope you will forgive me.) 

What have been the highlights of your publishing life so far
I did the campaigns for GONE GIRL, which was a rollercoaster of a ride the like of which I doubt I’ll ever see again.  I loved doing the campaign for THE VERSIONS OF US and seeing all that hard work pay off once it became a bestseller.  I once toured with Julie Walters, who was as lovely as you could expect.  I really love working with my team now and helping them to become brilliant publicists. 

If you could try out any other job for one day (with no limits on money, travel etc.), what would you choose?
I think I would like to try being a film director.  I don’t think I’d be very good at it, but I’d love to be at the centre of a huge enterprise like that. 

If your publishing life was a book, what would the title be?

Oh lord, we put so many agonising hours into getting titles right….  I’ll have a brainstorm and get back to you.

Thanks so much for taking part, Rebecca!

Look out for more MY PUBLISHING LIFE features coming soon.

Click here to read more MY PUBLISHING LIFE features.

If any literary agents, publishers, publicists or editors would like to take part, please contact me through my blog or Twitter for the full list of questions.

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