"We need different voices and The Scheme will open doors to people who may have never thought of publishing as a career for them"
Introducing Asmaa! She is an editorial assistant at Michael Joseph. She has only been in her role for a couple of months and has shared what her experience has been like. Michael Joseph specialises in women’s fiction, crime, thrillers, cookery, memoirs and lifestyle books. Many of their authors are now, or soon will be, household names in the UK and around the world. They publish the very best authors in each field and bring their books to the widest possible audience.
What was your journey to Penguin Random House?
Well, the first time I discovered that publishing was an actual career was when I worked at Waterstones. I was there as a sales assistant over Christmas after graduating and that was when I thought ‘this is what I want to do’.
So I started applying for everything and luckily I got an internship with another publisher through Creative Access. I was supposed to be there for 6 months but I ended up staying for 3 years, as I was given a job a year into the role. My job title changed several times and went from Office Manager to Design and Contracts Assistant but essentially I ended up working with the Rights team, studio managing the design team, managing the audio side, some Editorial stuff and lots of other things! It meant that I got the awesome opportunity to see how publishing all worked and get a lot of experience.
I enjoyed all of it but the Editorial side is what I really loved so I started looking for Editorial jobs and here I am!
Before I got into publishing, a lot of the work experience I applied for required you to work for free which is very difficult – especially if you live all the way in Birmingham! I also didn’t know anyone who looked like me who worked in the industry and it all seemed very far away really. That’s why I am so excited about the scheme and what it’ll bring to the business. We need different voices and it’ll open doors to people who may never thought of publishing as a career for them, which is brilliant.
What do you love most about being at PRH and your team?
Everyone is so lovely and friendly and I love the books we publish! We have such an exciting roster of authors and books and it’s so cool to have the opportunity to work on new books by my favourite authors too! Plus, Penguin is such a global, world-renowned name; I have to say I do enjoy the brand recognition from people who don’t know what publishing is but still recognise Penguin!
What is a book that has changed your life and outlook on things?
If I’m honest, I can’t actually think of a book that changed my life! But growing up we always used to go to the library and I read voraciously – I used to read everything but the book that sticks out the most, is one called ‘Does My Head Look Big in This?’ by Randa Abdel-Fattah. It’s such a simple concept but I remember just being like ‘WOW!’ I’d never read a book that resonated with me so much. It was the first time I’d ever come across a book about a Muslim girl that wasn’t issues-y and was funny, light hearted and so relatable!
And I think that is why we need more inclusive books; that feeling of seeing yourself in a book is so powerful. Even more so when you’re younger, because for a lot of people the world makes sense through the literature they read.
We'd like to get to know you, what is your favourite song and why?
The Squire of Tamworth by Ruth Notman; I just really like it, it tells a story and it’s quite folksy. It’s quite an old song and I think this is a cover of it.
I usually like songs with an upbeat tempo with lyrics that aren’t too dodgy! Mainly because I tend to always get songs stuck in my head and seem to find myself singing them out loud!
Don’t give up! Honestly, if I can do it, anyone can!