Hayley Sothinathan manages the Faber Members programme which is free to join. Previously she worked for the Labour Party, Tate and the prison arts charity Koestler Arts. In this letter, Hayley writes to herself on her first day at Faber.
Dear younger Hayley,
You will be nervous because it is your first day back to a job, any job, since you went on maternity leave . . . and also because you have never worked in publishing before. But everyone is very friendly so no one will be that surprised when you ask them which ISBN to use or what POS means outside of the meaning you think it has. You are here to bring in parallel knowledge from other industries, learn how publishing works and see how to help grow a programme to engage the public. A job you might have dreamt up whilst doing other jobs, but it is now real. Your worries might include, but are not limited to, containing your dirty laugh until people know you better on day two.
You will be holding events with the likes of Kazuo Ishiguro, Sally Rooney, Tom Stoppard, Anna Burns and Simon Armitage. Those are Faber authors and you do events with Faber authors. Lucky you! You will also be coming up with products specially designed for Members, building email campaigns to engage them with incredible books and recruiting thousands of new Members from across the UK and further afield. Working on Faber Members offers a unique opportunity to produce special experiences, content and products for other book lovers like you and that is a responsibility and a joy at the same time.
2020 has posed dramatically different repercussions for different jobs. For Members, it has meant an acceleration of work already being done to expand the offering and increase inclusivity. This had meant offering more events outside London pre-lockdown, but in 2020 it has meant building an online programme of events and expanding our email content offering to Members.
Let yourself be a reader first and someone who works in publishing second. Having worked in politics and art, you know that people have busy lives and what cuts through is only a very small amount, so your job is to take some of the most interesting parts of any book and share those with Members, to help them find books they will love.
You will get to trial new products and ideas you think Members will enjoy, providing a real sense of creative freedom. You may even enjoy learning about bindings, postage weights and what constitutes a VATable item. Now your goals are to really grow the Members community, so even more readers can discover books that entertain, move and change them.
Sit down and read some poetry. You’ll be surprised how much you enjoy it again, even though you haven’t touched it since uni. It will help you realise how much great literature is now at your fingertips. And that’s exactly what you want Members to feel like too.