Today I have another in my occasional series When Dreams Come True where people within the book world talk about their ambitions and their journey to success. Today it’s the turn of the lovely Sarah Hardy. I’ve know Sarah online for sometime and I first met her in person at the very first TBC Leeds meet up in February 2015. Since then we’ve become good friends (and Harrogate roomies!) and I’ve watched her go from strength to strength firstly with her blog By The Letter Book Reviews and now as a publicist for Bloodhound Books
Guest post by Sarah Hardy…
Books have always been a big part of my life. I’ve no idea when I started reading but it’s just something I always remembered doing from being a very young age. Due to my dad’s job we moved around a few times, so ended up going to numerous schools. I was extremely shy as a child and didn’t make friends easily where as books were something of a constant companion to me. Obviously I grew up in a world where technology wasn’t a constant distraction like it can be these days. Saying that though, it’s my kindle that distracts me and I spend a lot of time reading on it! Saturdays were spent going to the library with my dad and the Asterix and Obelix books were jointly loved by us both and my dad would always borrow them after I had read them.
Moving around did have an affect on my school work. I was very much your average student. I didn’t excel in any subject and struggled horrendsously with maths. I always got glowing reports from the teachers about my behaviour and efforts but sadly revision just didn’t work for me and would sit for hours on end taking nothing in. Due to the stress of the exams at high school, I found myself with glandular fever which is quite common in teenagers. I ended up missing most of my exams of which they had to grade on my course work instead. It was no surprise that I didn’t get great grades which had a knock on affect then with where I went from school.
Like many children I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. It would change constantly. I knew I was going to struggle when I was at high school as I knew I would need certain qualifications which I didn’t have. I even went through a phase of wanting to be a racing driver of which I wrote a letter enquiring how I would go about becoming one, only to find that even though school qualifications weren’t an issue, money was. The courses I would have liked to have done at college I couldn’t do due to not having the right amount of C grades and above. Some of my class mates were signing up to a secretarial course of which I could do with my grades and even though I had no intention of being a secretary, I just followed what they were doing.
I have to admit that as much as I loved books, a career within publishing is something that never entered my mind. For some reason the only way I thought you could have a career with books was to write one. Yes, I did try that also but I am a much better reader than writer! Obviously being seventeen and at college I needed to start earning myself some money. I went for a couple of interviews before being taken on by a big supermarket chain as a check out operator. I had so little confidence in myself with no clue what I wanted to do and ended up working there full time for a total of four years. Retail was a career that I fell into and have been doing it for over twenty years. Myself and my husband currently have a small carpet and flooring shop of which was always my husbands dream. Sadly it was never mine. We don’t have long left with the lease on the shop and when we come out of it I will then be able to work full time for Bloodhound which I can’t wait for as never had a job which I truly loved before and each day I wake up dying to get stuck in.
Nearly four years ago now my husband bought me a kindle which I had told him I didn’t want as I thought nothing could beat an actual book. For me my kindle is like my phone or keys. I have to have it with me wherever I go and I just couldn’t imagine my life without it. Even though I have always read over the years, work and life got in the way and I would only tend to read a book when the new James Patterson book came out or when I was on holiday. Since having my kindle I have read so many books, over a thousand to be exact in the space of three years. Reading and books have literally taken over my life and given me a whole new outlet.
Social media has also played a big part in making my dream job come true. A couple of years ago now, I joined an online book group on Facebook (THE Book Club). This really opened my eyes to a whole new world. I virtually met like minded readers, loads of new authors as well as bloggers and publishers. It wasn’t long before I set up my own book blog as I was very passionate about supporting authors and trying to help spread the word about books that I had enjoyed. It wasn’t long before I joined a few other online book groups, Book Connectors, Crime Book Club and Crime Fiction Addict. Even though I read and enjoy a variety of genres, crime and thrillers are without a doubt my absolute favourite. Through blogging, I have made and met some amazing people of which some have gone on to become very good friends indeed. There are too many to mention and they all know who they are but got to give a shout out to the #blogsquad and especially to my #BBFF Noelle Holten as they have been especially amazing and given me the kicks I so desperately needed when I’ve ever doubted myself.
Like my fellow Bloodhound colleague and good friend Alexina Golding, Theakstons Crime festival in Harrogate was a life changing few days. I loved the whole buzz and atmosphere. I got to meet so many people in the book industry from all different fields and it hit me there and then that this was what I wanted to do. It just all fell into place. To finally realise after so many years of not knowing to have it finally staring me in the face was quite an emotional moment. The only problem was though I didn’t have a clue where to go from, from there. This was where my confidence started to let me down again. The last interview I went for was in 1997. What did employers look for nowadays? Would my grades let me down? Was the experience I had in retail any good for the publishing world? I was so full of self doubt and was beginning to think that a job in publishing was only ever destined to be a dream. Luckily for me, social media brought me to the fabulous Betsy Reavley’s attention. We had chatted on line on each others posts and I had come across her companies books in an online book group and read and reviewed quite a lot of their books on my blog. The actual job offer came from an offhand comment where I had mentioned how much I would love to work in publishing and it all went from there. I started in December 2016 and am absolutely loving it!
Betsy and her husband Fred set up Bloodhound Books in 2014. They truly are an inspirational couple. They don’t just make authors dreams come true by publishing their books, they have also made mine as well as the other Bloodhound staff’s dreams come true. They aren’t afraid to take chances and they are really passionate about what they do. Even though they are a small independant publisher, they truly give it their all into making themselves a publisher to be reckoned with. I am immensely proud to be part of their team and I love working with Betsy, Fred, my other colleagues as well as the authors. There is very much a sense of family within Bloodhound Books which I love. As the saying goes there is no I in team and Bloodhound have a magnificent team that all work well together and strive for the same things.
I started off being the Submissions Advisor which was a great experience before becoming their Book Publicist in April this year. A typical working day for me is organising blog tours for up coming titles, approaching the press and media to try and get our authors and their books featured, basically looking into anyway we can gain publicity for ourselves, our authors and our books. I’m also very active on different social media sites shouting about our books. Bloggers especially are a massive support to authors and publishers and are truly worth their weight in gold and have to give them a special mention as they truly are fantastic.
I hope my post gives others the determination to never give up on their dreams. I thought I would wander through this life never knowing what I was truly meant to do but now I can’t wait to get up each morning and do something I love. The whole book world didn’t just fulfill my dream job, it really has given me a new lease of life. It has brought me new friendships and has had me doing things I would never have thought a couple of years ago that I would do. What’s more is that I know I have many more years of new and exciting things to look forward to. Being part of Bloodhound Books at a relatively early stage in their growth is just wonderful as I know with Betsy and Fred at the helm and with the rest of the team, with out a doubt Bloodhound Books is going to carry on going from strength to strength and the fact that I will have played a part in that, really is one of the best feelings in the world.
Thank you so much Sarah! I know many people will be able to relate to this (I know I did!) and wish you well in your continuing life adventures! And I just had to add my favourite pic from Harrogate 2016 of myself, Sarah and Linwood Barclay having afternoon tea at Betty’s.
If anyone else would like to share their experiences then comment below and I will get back to you!