When one of the first things you see walking into an office is a sculpture of a giant hand, you know you’re no longer in the North. whitefox Publishing Services share their office space with an advertising company in Shoreditch; it’s kooky, painfully cool, but somehow still manages to be welcoming and relaxed (and whoever was in charge of the music today was doing a damn fine job). For a Yorkshire girl, it was admittedly a bit of a culture shock, but I found comfort in the eyes of the peacock/wildebeest oil-painting propped beside the reception desk and decided it was probably safe to blow out my Davy lamp.
Having scouted (definitely not stalked) the LinkedIn accounts of both John Bond and Annabel Wright (the co-founders of whitefox), prior to getting the work experience offer, I was very aware of my status as newly-graduated-without-serious-career-prospects. The résumés of both John and Annabel (the former Head of Sales and Marketing at HarperCollins and Senior Editor at HarperPress respectively) clearly had some serious, heavyweight business experience behind them. And it shone through in the first morning meeting, as whitefox’s on-going publishing projects and proposals, involving both corporate giants and lone self-publishers (and at one point just ‘Iceland’ – and no, I’m not talking about the frozen-food supermarket), were discussed in a flood of contacts and industry know-how, leaving my uninitiated brain floundering, desperately attempting to tread water. Annabel, John and Tim (Inman – an intern at whitefox who’s flying along in the thick of it there, and clearly relishing it) did occasionally stem the flow of names and practicalities in order to offer me explanations and neat biographies of what/who whitefox were involved with – there were quite a few of these breaks, and I now finally know what ‘blue-sky thinking’ is. There was a lot to grasp, but it was undeniably interesting and it was new – publishing in its most modern, cutting-edge form. With an extreme amount of help (and patience) I spent the rest of the day attempting to utilise their network, which seems to have already become an invaluable tool for those self-publishers wishing to find credible freelance services easily online.
I’m back in my dorm now, listening to the Frenchman who has lived here for 9 months crunch crisps half-naked on top of his bunk bed (don’t you just love youth hostels?), and am seriously looking forward to getting back to the office; it’ll be another day of data logging, but also a few new research projects, including how to transform a popular fashion blog into an e-book and, in the evening, ‘Byte the Book’, a panel and networking event about new business models in publishing. And oh, did I mention it was at the Ivy? For now, my Davy lamp is staying off.