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Ben King-Cox on his Spare Room Project experience

Ben King-Cox on his Spare Room Project experience

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Written by Ben King-Cox on Monday 11th September 2017.

London. It’s probably where you want some experience if you’re looking to get into publishing. It’s also an expensive place to be if you don’t live there, and there’s no third cousin about to put you up. The Spare Room Project is working hard to make life a lot easier for aspiring publishers just stumbling off a train at Euston or wherever.

This July, I’d managed to set up a placement at the children’s publisher, Nosy Crow. As soon as they said they’d have me, I went ahead and, prioritising a short journey each morning over everything else, booked a hostel in the vicinity. Staying in a youth hostel is something I’ve done before while carrying out work experience in London, and, really, it was quite a good laugh. If you pick a decent one, it can still be a fairly affordable way to live temporarily. Still, the heat and the noise and the eleven other people sleeping next to you don’t make for a very relaxing environment between working hours, so I wasn’t going to turn my nose up at an alternative.

I heard about the Spare Room Project when spending some time with Carnegie Publishing – a nonfiction publisher based in my hometown of Lancaster. By this time, I wasn’t far off coming down to London, and pretty convinced I’d missed the boat on a scheme that sounded so ideal. James, though – the hero – found me a place in the lovely Kentish Town home of Deborah and Peter.

I could not have wished for more accommodating hosts, especially considering I pitched up the day they returned from holiday. They struck that fine balance between making me feel at home, and not making me feel like I was being intrusive. As other blog posts on the Spare Room Project have made abundantly clear, staying with a publisher adds so much to the experience of a London placement, by injecting a sense of balance to your time there. To be able to work in editorial on children’s books, and also talk to Deborah about her experience in the digital side of education at Hodder gave an extraordinary sense of the scope of the publishing world.

Why you’d need it, I’m not sure, but I’d offer encouragement to anyone applying for short-term publishing placements to get involved with the scheme. I would also like to ask any publishers considering offering up a room to do so – our gratitude is unbounded. And of course, my huge thanks to Deborah and Peter for their hospitality.

It really was a whole lot better than a hostel.

Find out more about the Spare Room Project.