In the first of a series of posts, Abi Whitaker tracks down some of our Literature graduates to find out what they’re up to!
Claire Fenby did an English literature degree here at York St John University followed by an MA in 18th Century Literature ay York University.
As a student Claire began discussing books on her YouTube channel, formerly known as ‘Reading Bukowski’ but recently rebranded as simply ‘Claire Fenby’. Now she’s living in London and working in publishing for Harper Collins. But how did she get there?
Claire’s YouTube channel was what made her stand out from other graduates, with videos on book reviews, dissertation writing and what it’s like to study at YSJ, Claire made her channel a creative outlet that complemented her degree. With over 13000 subscribers, it is clear that Claire has a unique and compelling voice in the literary sphere and being able to connect with the public about books is a huge benefit when it comes to employability, especially in such a competitive industry like publishing.
Originally, Claire wanted to go into academia but found herself moving to London after her masters and working in Waterstones whilst trying to get her foot in the door of the publishing world. Claire credits her experience as a bookseller for teaching her the skills such as marketing and pitching. Whilst working for Waterstones, Claire took an internship at Harper Collins which later turned into a permanent position.
Claire also works for Harper Impulse, an imprint of Harper Collins that specialises in publishing writing by women and for women. Claire says that her degree taught her to challenge and as this area of publishing is often one looked down upon and not given enough recognition, she wants to market it in a new way and encourage more diversity in publishing.
Claire is responsible for all the marketing campaigns and working alongside editors to do this. The role allows her to express her creative freedom and in some ways is an extension of what she began years ago as a YouTuber. Claire’s job includes really fun and new things such as making videos for the Harper Impulse social media accounts, even having her own section, ‘Claire’s Corner’, on their Instagram to talk about books. Being paid to talk about the books you love is living the dream, right?
Claire is living the life an English Literature student like me is merely dreaming of right now, living proof that if we study hard and make the most of every opportunity we can go onto big things in the capital city, working for one of the biggest publishing houses in the country.