Hello! My name is Kirsten and I’m Exisle’s UK Marketing and Metadata Assistant.
I’m based in Edinburgh, pretty much in the heart of student town, and live with my girlfriend, two friends, and a ridiculous amount of books.
I moved here over three years ago to study English Language at the University of Edinburgh and while my degree is almost finished, my time in Edinburgh certainly isn’t. I’ve slowly but surely fallen in love with the literary scene (which is international, radical, frequently queer and generally wonderful), and working with books in this incredible city has become the dream.
Before university, I lived in a teeny wee town in the north-east of Scotland called Ballater. I practically grew up on a bike and my first job was working in the local cycling shop, learning how to sell, fix and build bikes. Four years later, I left school determined to become an engineer. Safe to say, I’m glad I took some time out to think. I spent a year working, adventuring, and reading books, and was reminded how much I love storytelling and art. The scary choice was an easy one to make; I abandoned cantilever bridges and ran off to Edinburgh to learn about words.
I’ve since been having a grand old time seeking out book-related opportunities. For the past three summers, I’ve worked as a bookseller in the wonderful mayhem of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I witnessed first-hand the absolute joy of picture books, and learned how to sell books to people by appealing to their love of adventure, romance, trains, pirates… the list goes on. Last summer I also worked at the Hay Festival, a pocket of homespun magic deep in the Welsh countryside that I would recommend to any fan of the printed, spoken or sung word. As for publishing, I largely got my foot in that hefty door by volunteering with the Society of Young Publishers Scotland. *Plug alert*. SYP Scotland is an organisation that supports junior and aspiring publishers in their journey into the industry, and volunteering with them is fab. We host a conference, run bookish events, organise shadow panels, pair people with mentors, and do a myriad of other activities that have given me the skills I use to blunder on in my day-to-day publishing life.
That brings me to my work with Exisle (we love a segue).
This is the first job I’ve had in the publishing industry, and I can’t believe what a lucky duck I am to get to work with such wonderful books and people. The jobs I get to do require a range of skills; when writing descriptions I think back to how I would describe a book to a customer at the book festival; when coming up with key search terms I frequently find myself playing some sort of word association game; when compiling metadata across scary-big spreadsheets I’m back to the logic and problem solving of bike mechanic-ing. Above all though, is communication. Publishing is an industry with voice and vivacity at its centre, and relies on bookish people working with other bookish people to bring bookish things to life. I can’t quite believe I get to be part of that, especially with books that tackle everyday struggles head on, always with sensitivity and joy.
I was introduced to Exisle as a company that publishes voices that otherwise wouldn’t be heard; books that have a heart and soul, and that rings true. From This is Us to Saying Goodbye to Barkley, I’ve been getting a bit emotional writing my Trade Information Sheets.