I marked off another first this week when I delivered the ‘How to pitch, write and market a book’ course for journalism.co.uk at London’s Frontline Club. I’ve done a fair bit of in-house training for subs, and taught subbing and production to teenagers and twentysomethings, but this was the first time I’d run something drawn from my experience in the book trade, and the first time I’d dealt with such an experienced group of people. It was also a first for journalism.co.uk/, who took a chance on offering the course, a decision for which I’m very grateful.
Having got used to dealing with groups of between 20 and 60, the depressing reality of higher education today, it was good to have a small group of seven people with whom a real exchange could be conducted. While there was a lot of information to get across, a good group dynamic emerged quickly, and by the end of the day some embryo friendships seemed to be forming. It was also quite nice not to have to keep repeating the line ‘Leave checking your emails and your Facebook pages until after we finish’!
It can be daunting ‘teaching’ people who have similar levels of experience, but from what was said as the day ended, everyone seemed to have picked up plenty that they didn’t already know. Often the measure of success is as much about creating and using some thinking space as it is about providing information. And the pleasant surroundings of the Frontline Club, plus the help of the staff there, all made for a much better-than average Monday.
Most, but not all, of the people on the course were journalists – some still working, some investigating new options after redundancy. But the mixture of backgrounds reinforced something the prescient people at journalism.co.uk had in mind when we originally discussed offering this course – that people outside the media trade are eager to learn the things traditionally regarded as insider media trade skills. There is currently a big debate going on about what educators in journalism and the media should be focussing on, brought on partly by the gap between the number of students and the available jobs. I’m increasingly convinced that casting the net wider by recognising that it’s not just so-called ‘insiders’ who are eager to hone a whole range of media skills is the way forward. I’ve expanded on this a little in a piece for the next print edition of InPublishing, which is due out in the next few weeks.
As for yesterday’s course, it’s been successful enough to be offered again, so I’ll be doing another day before the end of this year if the bookings come in. Details are on the training section of journalism.co.uk, along with all the other courses they run. And I’m looking forward to the day when one of yesterday’s delegates tells me their book is in the shops.