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From the Festival: Bethany Norris interviews a Festival organiser

Beth Norris, a second-year English Literature student, reports from the Festival.


Madeline Toy is a freelance publicist who lives in Bristol and who also is part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival programming team. I was asked to interview her at the festival and upon looking her up her LinkedIn profile was very impressive, boasting a degree, a masters degree and important publishing houses that she had worked at.

It was interesting to speak to Madeline about her different experiences as a publicist. She had previously done a degree and then a postgraduate degree in publishing. When I asked her about how she got into her current position she couldn’t put enough emphasis on how important it was for her to do work experience in her chosen field.

She also brought up an interesting point on how the world of publishing is changing now with e-books and how social media effects her job. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t necessarily think of effecting the industry but it does actually bring good and bad points to the table. For example it’s good that social media can reach fans instantly and offer a more personal touch, but at the same time it means there’s a lot more competition.

Another thing that I found intriguing was that Madeline said that the benefits of being freelance meant that she could be her own boss and move away from London. She admitted a lot of publicist jobs are in London and that someone starting out should probably look there, but she didn’t want to stay there and when she became freelance it allowed her to move away. It’s the kind of lifestyle question that are often not thought of until later on in a career. It was good to get a perspective of someone who has been in the industry for over eight years.

Overall I think talking to Madeline has made me realise how important it is to make sure that your reputation is known if you want to get into a competitive line of work. Work experience, social media as well as education can all contribute to a professional reputation.

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