8th September is International Literacy Day, a day which is celebrated annually worldwide as an occasion to promote literacy for both children and adults and highlight its importance to individuals, communities and societies. To mark it, we reflect on our own memories of learning to read…
Growing up, bedtime stories were a highlight of every evening. My sister and I had very different tastes in books and so had a complicated rota for whose turn it was to choose the story and in whose bed the story would be read! I don’t really remember when we started reading ourselves rather than being read to but I do have clear memories of having the chicken pox when I was 7 and working my way through every single Famous Five book!
Before I could actually read, I memorised Peter Rabbit and would recite the whole thing, turning the pages in a pretty convincing imitation of reading! The first books I properly read on my own were the Josie Smith books by Magdalen Nabb. I loved these so much that my mum wrote a letter to the author and actually received a handwritten reply! Magdalen was particularly taken with my name as she was living in Florence at the time – “The City of Flowers”, which she lamented was increasingly more populated by cars than flowers…
I don’t remember the first book that I read completely on my own but I do remember the first books that I read together with my parents. We had several books from the Puddle Lane series which had a simple sentence on one page for me to read and then a more detailed paragraph on the opposite page for my mum or dad to read. They were great as I felt like I was reading on my own but still getting a full story. I also enjoyed reading books by Shirley Hughes, particularly the Alfie stories and the book Dogger. Another favourite was Burglar Bill, which I can still quote lines from now and which I look forward to reading with my son when he’s a bit older. I loved reading books (or being read to) from a young age and always looked forward to bedtime stories.
I have always loved books, but one of my main motivations when learning to read was so I could decipher the very glamorous – and not very feminist – women’s magazines that were stuffed down the legs of my mum’s leather boots in the wardrobe in my parent’s bedroom, all red lipstick and impossibly large hair. In fact I always wanted to read things I probably shouldn’t: I can remember being fascinated by Shirley Conran’s Super Woman for quite some time; most of the text meant very little to me, but here was a book entirely about grown-up, real knowledge, to be read when no-one was looking.
Reading has always been a very important part of family life for me, and the house I grew up in and my grandparents’ house were always full of books with shelves occupying most available wall space. We would have books regularly sent over from Finland for birthday and Christmas presents, and Mum, Dad, Naini, Mummi and Vaari, along with anyone else that could be cajoled, would read to us at bedtime. Our summer holidays driving across Europe to Finland always started a week or so before departure with a visit to George’s bookshop in Bristol, so we could select the books to keep us occupied in the back seat. I’ve written about Muumipeikko ja Pyrstötähti (Comet in Moominland) being one of the first books I remember reading on my own for a post on World Book Day so I won’t say any more about that here. The first book that I remember getting in “trouble” for reading was JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It was the classic story of a young child not realising that his parents could see the hunched shape and the torchlight visible through the blanket that seems so funny in hindsight. Dad later admitted that he would always let me “get away with it” for half an hour or so before telling me it was really time for lights out… I cannot imagine a life without the pleasure of reading, and a love of books must surely be one of the greatest gifts you can give any child.
Today is World Book Day – “a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) reading”. To mark the occasion, the CVP/MM team have been thinking about books that have made an impact on us. Read on to find out more…
My favourite book is Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson. It is the first book that I remember reading on my own, in both Finnish and English. The story is structured in such a way as to keep the reader wanting to read “just one more chapter” and is accompanied by beautiful illustrations. The shopkeeper’s mathematical solution to ensure that Moomintroll was able to buy the Snork Maiden a gift, and that she was able to buy Moomintroll a “medal”, has always guided me in business.
There are way too many good books to choose from but the Anne of Green Gables series is still my favourite. I don’t know whether it’s because the lessons you learn from your childhood reading somehow seem steeped in some kind of greater importance or whether you sometimes feel more jaded in later life/reading. These books really cultivated my imagination, gave me a better appreciation of the beauty of the natural world and an innate belief that you’re never too old to believe in fairies! 🙂 There’s also some great poetry quoted – these lines from Keats seem to capture the above and crop up in a few of L.M. Montgomery’s books:
The same that ofttimes hath Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
I try to reread the books every few years so as not to forget to look around and wonder once in a while! 🙂
Sticking with the childhood theme, I’ve always had a real soft spot for Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian. It was the book we read as a class when I was 10 years old and, impatient with round-the-class reading, I raced ahead on my own at home. The author created a very cosy world for a child to step into (I’m sure the reality for an evacuee during the second world war wasn’t anywhere near as idyllic!) with just the right amount of peril and tragedy to make it a good story. And of course, the all-important happy ending 🙂
My favourite book is The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier. I adore Daphne du Maurier, so inevitably my favourite book would be one of hers. I’m not quite sure why it’s this one, as it’s not her best book by some distance. I must have read it for the first time at precisely the right moment in my life (I’d guess around 10 or 11) as it’s left a lasting impression on me, and is always the book I comfort read when I have the flu. The heroine, Honor, is refreshingly undrippy and Gartred, her appalling sister-in-law, is the anti-heroine to end all anti-heroines. It’s Gothic and quite ridiculous, but I love it.
I tend not to reread books and haven’t done so since my childhood, so singling out a book as a favourite, having read it just once, doesn’t seem quite right. Instead, I’ll opt to throw a spotlight on my favourite book of the year so far, which is The Muse by Jessie Burton. It’s set in two different time periods: Spain during the civil war and London in the 1960s, with a mystery of a painting connecting the two. I tend to like books set in a different era or context to my life today, so it certainly ticked that box, as well as having a good storyline that kept me guessing right up to the end.
With the welcome return of Elinor Robertson to our office next month after spending a year on maternity leave, we have taken the time to have a reshuffle of some of the main responsibilities within the business, and have a look at our job titles to make sure they truly reflect the work of each team member here at Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters. With a small business it is natural that we all wear many hats, and so it is nearly impossible to get a single job title to accurately cover all aspects of each person’s work. What is more important is that when we present ourselves to our contacts outside the company, our job titles reflect the level of responsibility that we carry, so that our contacts know who to talk to about any given issue.
Elinor Robertson will be returning to her job in charge of all matters relating to marketing. As the most senior person for marketing, her new job title will be Head of Marketing. Because she will be coming back part-time, she will be passing on her role as Commissioning Editor for our series Aspects of Tourism, Aspects of Tourism Texts and Tourism Essentials to Sarah Williams so that she is better able to dedicate her time to marketing all of our books globally.
Sarah Williams will take on all commissioning for the Channel View Publications imprint, and with her job as the most senior contact for all production-related issues, her job title will be changed to Head of Production. Sarah manages our freelance production contacts and liaises with all of our suppliers, as well as setting our production strategy and quality values, so carries the responsibility for ensuring that our books are always of high quality, whether they are print books or ebook resources.
Flo McClelland, Anna Roderick and Tommi Grover will keep their current job titles as their jobs are not changing so dramatically:
Flo McClelland is our Marketing and Publishing Coordinator and runs all our social media accounts. She also works with our designers and authors on book covers and with Elinor in the marketing department on all matters relating to marketing and publicity. Flo will be coordinating the work of our incoming Publishing Intern (more to follow later) and you will also come across Flo more often at conferences in the future, so please make sure you say hello if you see her!
Anna Roderick is our Editorial Director and is in charge of editorial strategy for the business. The subject areas we publish in, and the editorial tone of the business, are a constantly-evolving work; although we naturally stay true to our core beliefs, it is important for us to branch out into new fields and it is Anna who searches out these areas and discovers the inspiration for our future publications. She also commissions everything that isn’t commissioned by someone else, and attempts to make the rest of the editorial department do their admin. Together with Tommi she is half of our board of directors, and shares the legal responsibility for the business.
Tommi Grover is Managing Director, and has day-to-day responsibility for all matters relating to finance and the legal side of running the business. He oversees the running of all departments to make sure where possible that each of the heads of departments have adequate resources and skills. Tommi will continue to attend major conferences and book fairs and has commissioning responsibility for our Linguistic Diversity and Language Rights, and CAL Series on Language Education book series.
As an office, we take Christmas very seriously! Celebrations start on 1st December, when we decorate the office and get the Christmas tunes playing. In this post we put a Christmassy spin on our recent Desert Island Discs blog post and share some photos of this year’s CVP/MM Christmas festivities!
If you’re bored of hearing the same 10 Christmas songs played on loop in every shop, you can check out our office’s carefully curated Christmas playlist on Spotify here. Here are our personal favourites, including the one we’d each save from the waves marked with a star.
*Proper Crimbo – Bo Selecta
Don’t Shoot Me Santa – The Killers
Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan
Donde Esta Santa Claus – Augie Rios
Christmas was Better in the 80s – The Futureheads
Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes
The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
One More Sleep Til Christmas – The Muppets Christmas Carol
Favourite Christmas Film: All I Want For Christmas
It’s Clichéd to be Cynical at Christmas – Half Man Half Biscuit
O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
(Don’t Call Me) Mrs Christmas – Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler
Santa Claus Meets the Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) – Ramones
Favourite Christmas Film: It’s a Wonderful Life, with Nativity! a very VERY close second place
Favourite Christmas Food: Bread sauce
Gaudete – Steeleye Span
Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano
*I Was Born On Christmas Day – Saint Etienne
Last Christmas – Wham!
Walking In The Air – Aled Jones
It Doesn’t Often Snow at Christmas – Pet Shop Boys
The Power of Love – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy
Favourite Christmas Film: As I’ve only seen 3 Christmas films I have very few to narrow down, so it’ll be The Holiday
Favourite Christmas Food: Brandy butter (with mince pies on the side!)
2000 Miles – The Pretenders
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
*O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
Christmas Eve, 1943 – Tom McRae & The Standing Band
Fairytale of New York – The Pogues
Will You Still Be In Love With Me Next Year – Hot Club de Paris
It’s Clichéd to be Cynical at Christmas – Half Man Half Biscuit
Kindle a Flame in Her Heart – Los Campesinos!
Favourite Christmas Film: The Muppet Christmas Carol
Favourite Christmas Food: Yule log
Sylvian Joululaulu – Various different artists
Tonttujen Jouluyö – Various different artists
Joulupuu on Rakennettu – Various different artists
Joulupukki – Various different artists
Joulupukki puree ja lyö – M.A. Numminen
*Herra Huu Pelkää Joulupukkia – M.A. Numminen
Näin Sydämmeeni Joulun Teen – Various different artists
On Hanget Korkeat Nietokset – Various different artists
Favourite Christmas Film: I don’t have a favourite Christmas film, I think they are all pretty appalling and besides I can’t think of anything less Christmassy than watching TV on Christmas Eve, so I would rather sit in a wood fired sauna staring at the flames flickering under the stove. I hope, by the way, that my desert island will be an arctic desert island so I can jump in the snow from the sauna and it will be properly dark.
Next month we will be publishing Language Teacher Psychology edited by Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas. The book begins with an invitation to the reader to reflect on their own memories of language learning: “If you think back to your language learning at school, you might remember specific tasks or projects you did, but, even more likely, you will remember your teachers.” This sparked a conversation in our office about language teachers we’ve encountered over the years, which we thought would make for an interesting blog post. Here are some of Laura, Flo and Tommi’s reflections on the language teachers that have stuck with them.
My first ever French teacher was obsessed with songs. Every single unit of vocabulary was accompanied by a song and action routine that we all had to learn and perform to the class. I imagine that for the quieter students that must have been a terrifying experience but for the rest of us it was great fun. The songs were incredibly catchy and have stuck with me and my school friends…so much so that we can still recite them off by heart, even 20 years later!
When I was in 6th Form I had French first thing on a Monday morning – not the best time of the week for teenagers! Our teacher came up with the idea that we’d take it in turns to bake a cake over the weekend and bring it in to share with the class that lesson. It was a brilliant idea – not only were we more enthusiastic about coming to class but it also brought us closer together as a group as we were more relaxed while chatting over cake. Some even tried their hand at baking French specialities!
My school German teacher made sure that lessons went well beyond the syllabus. She took the time to get to know us as individuals and often recommended German films and books that she thought we’d like. She made me realise that there’s so much more to studying a language than the topics in the textbook and that languages stretch far beyond the classroom walls. It was also a very good way to get us to engage with German outside lesson time too!
When I was on my year abroad in France I lived with some Spanish students. Over the course of the year they made sure that I learnt basic Spanish, not through formal instruction, but by making sure that they used Spanish as we did things together, such as cooking. Over time I picked up all sorts of vocabulary which has stuck with me since, including the phrase “¿Dónde están mis llaves?” (“Where are my keys?”) which was used on a near daily basis by one forgetful housemate!
During my year abroad I studied Russian at a French university. The course was taught by two teachers – the first was terrifying: incredibly strict with zero tolerance for mistakes. She called me “the foreigner” for the first few weeks, until I got so fed up I wrote my name in huge letters at the top of my essay in the hope she would get the hint. This was juxtaposed completely by the other teacher, who was kind, patient and very understanding of my predicament as a British student in a French classroom learning Russian! He made many allowances for my odd-sounding Russian to French translations and always made sure I understood definitions, often asking me to provide the class with the English translation, which helped me feel less useless! I really appreciated his acknowledgement and thoughtfulness, which meant I never felt lost or excluded from his lessons.
I have French lessons once a week and it’s probably my best language learning experience so far. My teacher has a great sense of humour, is patient, reassuring, and full of praise but never lets mistakes go unchecked. He’s obviously passionate about French culture and during our conversations he often plays us clips from French films, shows us books and photographs or plays songs. The atmosphere in his classroom is very egalitarian – there’s no tangible student/teacher divide and he is quick to be self-deprecating about his own English, which levels the playing field and reminds us that actually we’re all learners.
My A-Level German teacher at school recognised that I hated grammar tables and all of that formal language learning. He would quite often set the class an exercise to do with “der, die, das, die” or whatever. Noticing that I could never really get going at all, he would then come over and chat to me (in German) quite casually for 5-10 minutes, then he would finish with “right, you are now 10 minutes behind the rest of the class, you’d better get some work done”. I suspect I learned more German in those chats than I ever did from grammar tables…
My Italian teacher at Cultura Italiana in Bologna sat with me one day for a private lesson. During the lesson, she would talk, and I would sit leaning back with my arms folded across my chest. Eventually she grew exasperated and said “Tommi, do you care about any of this?” to which I replied “of course I do! I am listening very carefully!” “Argh, no, if you want to learn Italian you mustn’t listen, you need to lean forward, interrupt me and talk over me, that way I will know you want to be part of the conversation! We often go out, everyone talks at the same time, if you are not always saying something I will just assume you are bored and want to be somewhere else!”
For more information about the book that inspired this post, please see our website.
This blog post was inspired by the BBC Radio 4 programme, Desert Island Discs. For those of you not familiar with the format, the show’s guest (or ‘castaway’) chooses eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item that they would take with them if they were cast away on a desert island. For this post, we’ve each taken a turn at being the castaway and chosen the eight tracks that mean something to us, as well as a book and a luxury. Castaways also nominate the one track they would save if the rest were washed away by the waves, and we’ve marked those with a star. If you use Spotify, you can listen to the playlist of our music choices here.
Murheellisten Laulujen Maa – Eppu Normaali
Lapin Jenkka – Tapio Rautavaara
Ivano Fossati – Viaggiatori D’Occidente
* Valse Triste – Jean Sibelius
I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You – Tom Waits
Sylvian Joululaulu – Various different artists
Enough is Enough – Chumbawamba & Credit to the Nation
Tango Pelargonia – Kari Kuuva
Book: Muumipeikko ja Pyrstötähti – Tove Jansson
Luxury item: A compass
* Joe’s Head – Kings of Leon
A Day in the Life – The Beatles
Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder
Wherever is Your Heart – Brandi Carlile
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
The Only Place – Best Coast
Doctor! Doctor! – Thompson Twins
Proper Crimbo – Bo Selecta
Book: Anne of Green Gables series – L. M. Montgomery
Luxury item: A cricket bat and ball
Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide – David Bowie
The Dancer – PJ Harvey
Doll Parts – Hole
* Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love
Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las
The Guests – Leonard Cohen
Proserpina – Martha Wainwright
Queen of Denmark – John Grant
Book: The Crimson Petal and the White – Michael Faber
Luxury item: A still
Pure Shores – All Saints
Good Tradition – Tanita Tikaram
* Sky And Sand – Paul Kalkbrenner
Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
Books From Boxes – Maximo Park
Heart and Soul played on a piano
The Way I Are – Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake
Murder On The Dancefloor – Sophie Ellis Bextor
Book: The Noughts & Crosses trilogy – Malorie Blackman
Luxury item: A 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the world in exceptional detail
Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
What Can I Do To Make You Love Me – The Corrs
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Mr. Brightside – The Killers
* Good Arms vs Bad Arms – Frightened Rabbit
Postcards from Italy – Beirut
Everlasting Light – The Black Keys
Coffee – Sylvan Esso
Book: Atonement – Ian McEwan
Luxury item: An everlasting notebook and pen
* Teardop – Massive Attack
Rambling Man – Laura Marling
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Porcelain – Moby
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
Fake Empire – The National
The Blower’s Daughter – Damien Rice
Peaches – The Presidents of the United States of America
Book: The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
Luxury item: A lifetime supply of painting materials
Spotify users can listen to the full list (almost – sadly not every single song listed above is available on Spotify!) of our Desert Island Discs choices here.
This is the 500th post on our blog since it first began in 2011! We started the blog seven years ago, not long after our website was updated. In this post we reflect on the blog and share some special highlights and interesting facts with you.
Our very first blog post…
…was written by our Editorial Director, Anna, who wrote about the Mobility Language Literacy conference she attended in Cape Town in January of that year. Since then, we’ve published hundreds of blog posts: interviews with authors and staff alike, guest posts written by everyone from our sales rep to Tommi’s mum, blog series such as an A-Z of Publishing and Publishing FAQs, conference reports, authors introducing their new books, visits to suppliers, our thoughts on issues in the industry, such as Brexit and the pricing of ebooks…and much more!
The majority of people who read our blog are in the US and the UK, but we have readers all over the world, in 146 different countries!
In addition to this, Sarah and Anna, who joined the company within months of each other back in 2002, celebrated their 15 year anniversary working at CVP/MM. Of course, the occasion called for a blog post, and we published an interview with both Sarah and Anna looking back on their first days, biggest achievements and favourite memories.
Our blog was originally created as a place to share news, but it has become so much more than that. We hope that it gives readers an insight into what goes on behind the scenes and allows them to get to know us and the company a bit better. We look forward to the next 500 posts!
Every year in April and May there is a flurry of activity in the office as royalty processing season rolls around. It’s a very busy time for Tommi, as he makes at least 500 individual payments to authors and editors. In this post he answers some of the most common questions he’s asked regarding royalty payments.
How often will I get royalty statements?
Royalty statements are sent out once a year, and are calculated on sales to March 31st. Statements are usually sent at the beginning of May, once we have collated all the sales information.
How often will I receive royalty payments?
Royalty payments are made once per year. We start to make payments as soon as royalty statements have been sent, but with hundreds of authors to pay it takes us some time to work through all of these. We aim to have all payments made by the end of July, but this is not always possible.
What methods of payment are there?
We can pay by either bank transfer, PayPal or cheque. Bank transfer is the easiest for all concerned, although in some countries this can be expensive. We can normally arrange to make payment in your local currency – please contact Tommi if you would like to discuss this.
What information do I need to provide for a bank transfer royalty payment?
The information needed for bank transfers varies from country to country. If your bank is in the UK, we simply need your sort code and account number. For European bank accounts, the IBAN number. In most other countries, if you give us your account number, sort code (or routing code), BIC/SWIFT code where possible, and the name and branch address of your bank, we should have enough information to pay you. If in any doubt at all, contact Tommi.
I have received a cheque in pounds sterling, but my bank says they cannot cash it or it is very expensive to cash. What can I do about this?
We prefer to make payment by bank transfer, and will only pay by cheque in the event that you have either chosen to be paid by cheque, or you have not informed us of your payment preferences. If the amount is too small to cash, we can set your account to only pay once it accrues over a set amount. If you would prefer to be paid by bank transfer, please send us your bank details (see above). We will cancel the cheque that you have received and make a replacement payment by transfer. We do not like to have outstanding cheques on our account, so please do not simply throw the cheque away or ignore it. Instead, please contact Tommi to discuss your options.
Why didn’t I receive a royalty payment this year?
If you received a royalty statement, but have not received a payment, please check the following:
Is there a minimum payment on your account? This would be detailed on your summary statement as “minimum payment £XX”. We do not pay very small amounts, as bank fees and administration costs would be more than the payment is worth. On older contracts the minimum payment would be set at £25, but with newer contracts it is likely £50 or even £100. We can set this as high as you like, so if bank charges are particularly high in your country, please contact Tommi to discuss this.
Is the address correct on your royalty statement? If we do not have your correct address it is possible that your payment has been sent to an old address. Please make sure you update your contact details whenever these change.
Have you changed bank accounts since your last royalty payment? Please make sure you update us whenever you change bank accounts, so that we do not pay the wrong account. If our bank informs us that your account has closed, we will attempt to contact you, but with hundreds of authors to pay, this may take us a long time!
Have we mailed your office address? If we have sent a cheque to your office, it is possible that it has either got lost in the university internal mail, or if you work from home when students are off campus, you might find the cheque in your in-tray/pigeon hole when you return for the new semester.
If none of these answers fits, please contact Tommi and we can tell you whether or not we have made payment, and if so, what method we used.
Can my royalties be paid to someone else/a charity?
Yes. You can assign your royalties to another person or, should you wish to, you can assign your royalties to a charity. All you need to do is inform us who to pay, and how best to pay them. Our preferred method is payment by bank transfer.
What happens to my royalties if I die?
We normally pay your estate, if we are given details of how to do so. If we do not have any contact details and do not know how to pay your estate, we will set your account to accrue any unpaid royalties until such a time as we are contacted. Should you wish to plan ahead and assign your royalties to a charity in the event of your death, please contact Tommi and we will make a note on your account.
This year marks 35 years since we published our first book. Naturally, this has got us all feeling a bit reflective, and in this post we wanted to share how each of us ended up working at CVP/MM, from Tommi’s story that arguably began at the age of 6(!), to Alice who joined us at the beginning of this year.
We’ve told the reasons behind the founding of Multilingual Matters several times before, so I won’t go into those details. I have always done some work for the company, whether it was helping to stick labels onto envelopes aged 6, or processing subscription renewals and sales after school aged 15 to earn a bit of pocket money, so the family business was very familiar to me and I was always interested in how the business of publishing books actually worked. On finishing my literature degree at Essex University, I knew I wanted to work in the book trade. I also knew that I didn’t want to work for the family business as that might feel too much like pressure. My parents were also adamant that they did not want to employ their children, for much the same reasons, they did not want us to feel like we were being pressured into the business. As I was living in Colchester at the time, I would often meet Dad at the Independent Publishers Guild monthly seminars in London. It was a nice chance for us to catch up, and for me to learn a bit more about independent publishing. After one of these monthly meetings Dad and I went for a drink in the pub close to the meeting rooms. It was clear that they were looking to recruit someone, and I was still looking for work myself. We avoided the subject for the first few drinks, and after the third drink one of us floated the idea of me coming to work for the family business…we were both a little sceptical as to whether we could actually work together without constant argument or worse, but agreed to give it a go for 6 months and then have a family meeting to decide whether or not it was a good idea…we never got around to having that meeting!
Why it’s Useful to Know More than One Sarah Williams
I am actually a Multilingual Matters’ reject! On a snowy spring day in 2001 I arrived for what turned out to be my first interview with Marjukka, Ken and Mike. I felt I had made a good impression but was concerned that my lack of a coat (it was April and I had a suit jacket?? 😃) and bus timetable may have counted against me! I was disappointed to learn that I’d narrowly missed out on the job. This left me to carry on at my government office job. I also moved house and changed telephone number shortly afterwards.
In the summer of 2002 MM/CVP had another opening but no way of getting in contact with me. Around this time I bumped into the other Sarah Williams from the government office in the supermarket (she lived on the same road, had the same middle name and her sister was also called Catherine). She told me that some place ‘possibly beginning with M’ were trying to get hold of me about a job. I called the MM office, spoke to Marjukka and the rest is history! 😃
I have always loved books, so a career in publishing should have been an obvious choice. However, in idiotic early-20s fashion I thought it was a bit of a cliché for someone with an English degree and so I loftily avoided all the publishers at the university careers fair (I have no idea what else I imagined I might do!) I met my partner at University and as he was staying on do a PhD, my main concern was to find a job that allowed me to stay in Bristol. Being utterly unqualified for and uninterested in the main Bristol industries of finance and engineering, I applied for every job in the local paper that I thought might have me, including training as a librarian at UWE and setting the crosswords for the Bristol Evening Post. One of those jobs, and in fact the only one to even ask me for interview, was journal editorial assistant at Multilingual Matters. I made my way out to Clevedon on the bus, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Coming from a very rural area, options for graduate level work experience were severely limited, and I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I left university. One day, I was sitting in the university library completing the references section on an essay, when the place Clevedon caught my eye. I had a feeling that Clevedon might be near Bristol, just about a commutable distance from my home. I looked up the company Multilingual Matters and promptly wrote to Tommi, asking if there were any work experience possibilities. I was immediately (and politely!) turned down flat – the company was too small and they didn’t need any extra help. A couple of months later, out of the blue came another email saying that they’d reconsidered and might be willing to have an intern. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and spent 2 months over the summer doing the work experience, as well as commuting 4 hours each day to get there and working evenings and weekends in a pub! I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the office, learnt a great deal and headed back to university with an interest in publishing and new skills, but also the knowledge that my placement wouldn’t lead to employment as the company was too small. The following February, as I was back in the library, another email from Tommi popped up. This one had the title “An Enquiry” which I thought sounded quite ominous and deduced that they were trying to sort out some mistake I’d made back in the summer! Luckily for me it contained a job offer, which I didn’t need to think long about accepting. I went down to the lobby to call my mum and stood next to the machine where users return books. On top of the stack of returned books was one of ours, Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, which I’ve always thought as a very strange but good sign!
I had just graduated with a degree in French and Russian and not quite knowing what to do with myself, I decided to move to France. I found a job teaching English to adults, got a CELTA qualification and lived there for two years. But I missed Bristol and eventually started to think about coming home and what I could do once I got there. Although I had enjoyed it, teaching wasn’t quite the right fit for me, so I began to think of other options – casting around for ideas, publishing was something I kept coming back to. Once back in Bristol, I did some work experience with a literary agent, but I was doubtful that there would be many opportunities in publishing for me in my hometown, having heard that ‘all publishing was in London’. Then one day my mum, an avid Googler, came across Channel View’s website. I sent Tommi a speculative email, not knowing that there did actually happen to be a (rare!) vacancy for an internship at exactly that time. To my surprise and delight, I was invited to come in for an interview and a couple of days later I was in the supermarket when I got an email offering me the internship. That was over three years ago now – time has flown!
I graduated from the University of Bristol just over two years ago, with a degree in History. Following my graduation I decided that I couldn’t leave lovely Bristol so stuck around and considered what I’d like to do job-wise. I had publishing in mind but couldn’t find anything that suited, so for the first year I tried a few different odd jobs – working in a pet shop, as well as for The Green Register (a not-for-profit organisation who promote sustainable building) and volunteering for a number of charities, before finally moving to London to give marketing a try. After a 3 month internship I headed off to India and then came back to Bristol with a fresh head. This time I was lucky – in my search for academic publishing roles I came across Multilingual Matters… I applied and got the position! I was particularly drawn to the small size of the company and the topics of publication, as I’d just begun a TEFL course. First impressions told me I’d come to the right place, with lots of quirky questions, tea, biscuits and entertaining playlists.
Every year we attend the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, which we’ve mentioned in numerous blog posts in the past. The book fair always follows the same format with meetings often with the same people and in the same regular time-slots. It often feels like déjà vu and all that changes each year is the books we present and everyone looking slightly older than last year! Even the halls look exactly as the year before, as publishers usually take the same stands in the same halls.
One thing that we always struggle to do is describe to people who’ve never attended the fair exactly what these halls are like and just how big and busy the fair is. In numbers, the fair welcomes over 7,000 publishers and over a quarter of a million visitors, but it’s hard even from those figures to quite grasp its size. Only when you are hurrying from meeting to meeting down aisles and aisles of stands do you really get a feel for it!
This year we had the brainwave of making a video to show the sheer scale of the fair to those who’ve never attended. Tommi and I spent every spare moment between meetings and the quieter weekend days filming the aisles of the book fair to try and capture what it is like. We reckon that we walked over 15km within the fair and edited nearly 3 hours of footage to create a snapshot of it! If you’re interested, the resultant video can be found on our YouTube channel here.