Want my job? Interview with the Executive Director of STORGY Magazine

We talk to Ross Jeffery, Executive Director and Head of Books at STORGY Magazine, about how STORGY came to exist and what helped him build his career in the arts. 

Want my job? Interview with the Executive Director of STORGY Magazine

Hi Ross! Thanks for agreeing to talk to us. Can you tell us what your current job title is and what your job involves?

Image result for storgy magazine logoMy current job title is Executive Director of STORGY Magazine – Head of Books. My role in the main is keeping my eyes and ears out for new books being released by publishers both big and independent – for new writers and bringing these books to the masses via book reviews, author interviews and spotlights on the authors themselves. It’s a fabulous job as I have to read well out of my comfort zone and also I have the joy of discovering writers who are at the starts of their careers. In doing this we help to give them wider publicity of their work. STORGY has always been a collaborative effort and we work with publishers, authors and a plethora of other agencies and individuals to help make our magazine one that is the go to for literature and arts.

What do you love about your job?

I think I answered this above – but one of the parts of my job I love is networking with authors and publishers, and developing relationships with many large and independent presses. 

I have also really loved becoming friends with many writers I have admired over the years and to have an ongoing dialogue with them as the magazine has developed exponentially over the years I have been involved. 

I also love working with our team - Tomek Dzido and Anthony Self are the other two who make up the backbone of STORGY. I was fortunate enough to get to know these guys many years before STORGY started and we became great friends, so to journey with them on this has been one hell of a ride and well, it doesn’t feel like work which is also amazing!

Can you explain the work you do with young people, if any?

Well, we are soon to be exploring the development of a sister site to STORGY Magazine called STORGY Kids which will feature book reviews, interviews with children’s authors. We are also going to look to have young people and children submit book reviews, vlogs on reading and also have an opportunity to allow young people and children to submit short stories for the site – whilst also obtaining exclusive short stories from children’s authors along the way.

Sounds great! So what are the bits you don’t like or find challenging about your job?

Well, there is nothing I don’t like about my job – which is awesome! The only challenges I find are that we are now getting so busy that all of my time is spent reading books for review that are sent via publishers, so my personal to be read pile is getting out of hand (but if I ever get around to reading for pleasure again, I’m sure I’ll review those anyway). Also STORGY is in its infancy, although we have been running for 5 years. We recently published our first book Exit Earth which has launched STORGY Books and we are now looking for some titles to release next which is great, but we are by no means financially secure, all our money made through submissions or selling of the book is being reinvested into the company to ensure our survival and also productivity. All of us at STORGY don’t make a penny – which is a huge undertaking of our time and resources as we all work jobs to pay the bills etc, but our passion is STORGY so if down the line we are doing this as a job even better! 

What are the highlights of your career to date?

The highlights of my career to date were getting to interview one of my literary heroes Chuck Palahniuk – he is a phenomenal writer and one that I have followed since his first book Fight Club hit the scene. 

After interviewing him, I was also blown away by receiving a limited edition signed and dedicated copy from the man himself. Another highlight was finding that one of my quotes from a review was used to help publicise the work of Adam O’Riordan’s book The Burning Ground, appearing on the praise of section in the paperback. One of the biggest highlights was also seeing us enter the world of publishing with Exit Earth, a book that, in my opinion, is amazing, in the aesthetic and also the stories contained within. You should all really buy a copy! In doing so you will help support an independent press and our future works. 

How did you get into an arts job?  Have you also worked outside the arts?

I studied Media Arts and Video Production at University but have always dabbled with writing. Tomek and Tony set up STORGY five years ago and I watched this with great interest and was delighted that a few years later they asked me to join the team and help grow the company. 

So I kind of fell into the job which is great and something I am humbled by each day, getting to do something I love so much and on my own terms. I currently support this by working as a Centre Manager for a Homeless Charity – another job that I love to bits, it’s challenging but rewarding, plus it helps me have a lot of stories to tell.

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge in my career to date is work life balance. Obviously I have a full time job, a wife and two children, I am also a writer and also work many hours for STORGY Magazine. So it has become somewhat of a juggling act. There was a time a year ago where I had to make a change to what I was doing, otherwise I’d suffer burn out - but it was fabulous to have such an understanding team around me and friends that I can talk openly to. We’ve all started to put things in place to enable us to be more productive whilst also giving us a better work life balance – as you can imagine running an independent magazine is a huge undertaking, especially if you are not getting paid for the long hours and continuous work in ensuring our content is the best it can be. 

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

If you are thinking about getting into publishing my advice would be, whilst you are at home or don’t have many overheads, is to get out there and do some work experience in the industry or get on an apprenticeship. When I was looking at getting some work in the field, when I was being made redundant, it was really hard to find a job in this industry without any experience (although I’d been working for our magazine for 2+ years this wasn’t sufficient enough). So, while you don’t have bills to pay, or a family to look after, my advice is get on an apprenticeship or get some work experience behind you, even if you don’t use it in the future it’s also a great way to experience this type of industry and to see if it’s something you want to do.

Find more STORGY:

Website – www.storgy.com

Interview - https://storgy.com/2016/11/05/interview-chuck-palahniuk/ 

Review – Burning Ground - https://storgy.com/2017/01/12/book-review-the-burning-ground-by-adam-oriordan/ 

Exit Earth – https://storgy.com/2017/07/21/exit-earth-kickstarter/ 

Twitter - @MoreSTORGY

Twitter - @Ross1982 

Check out this article by STORGY on How to Write a Review of a Film

Author

Nici West

Nici West Voice Team

Nici is the Editor for Arts Award on Voice. She loves all things books, theatre, music, art, visiting other countries, anything creative, and sometimes attempts to make YouTube videos. Alongside editing for Arts Award on Voice she writes and edits through her own pursuits.You can occasionally find her running marathons dressed as a black dog.

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