Journalist as author: Kat Poole and Lucy Tobin – Being an Adult
By Vanessa McGreevy
14 Nov 2019
A problem shared is a problem halved – does that apply to writing your first book (or indeed your seventh)? Journalists Kat Poole and Lucy Tobin worked together to produce Being an Adult – the ultimate guide to moving out, getting a job, and getting your act together. Here they tell us about the book itself, how they teamed up and their day to day work for national and consumer media.
Can you introduce your book in a couple of sentences?
Lucy Tobin: It’s a how-to guide to being a grown-up: the book we realised we needed when we had to call our parents when the heating conked out and had to fumble through asking for a pay rise because we just had no clue, and lived in the worst flat ever (no hot water for six months…) because we didn’t know what to look out for when we when to property viewings. So we asked all the experts, and wrote this super-practical book covering everything from the tangible (what should you check before renting a flat? What do you actually do if you’re resigning? Does anything actually need to be dry cleaned?) to the emotional: how to seek help if you’re struggling with mental health issues, what to say at a funeral, how to get out of that hen weekend you really can’t afford to go to, without losing a friendship… It’s a friendly guide to how to be an adult.
How did you come to write Being an Adult? Kat Poole: We were approached by our publisher, Scribe, rather than us pitching the idea – which was nice! Once Lucy was on board, I was introduced to the publisher via a mutual connection as a potential co-author, and Lucy and I met over a croissant to see if we got on and thought we could work together. Happily, we did, and the rest is history.
What are you working on next? LT: I’m a journalist at the Evening Standard, I write City interviews, features, and columns, plus I’ve got two very young kids and a parenting blog (runoutofwomb.com) so that keeps me busy.
KP: I’m currently head of email at The Stylist Group (www.stylist.co.uk/emails) and editor of Stylist Loves (www.stylist.co.uk/series/loves), our recommendations platform. I’m constantly on the lookout for exciting new brands and experiences that I can tell our audience about – and with Christmas coming up, it’s a pretty busy time! I’m particularly interested in sustainable fashion, so alongside my work at Stylist I’m also trying to properly educate myself, and I’m learning how to sew.
Any tips for other journalists thinking of writing a book? LT: Find a gap in the market – there are a lot of books out there..! Think about how you’d market your book too – publishers are inundated and need to know how your idea would sell.
KP: Make sure you have the time to do it. I wrote my half of the book while doing a full-time job, so I ended up working in an office every day, then coming home to write Being an Adult in the evenings and weekends for about three months. I needed a strict schedule and a lot of willpower! Set yourself a realistic timescale, and commit to it.
Lucy – can you tell us about the advantages of working with a co-author compared to your previous books? LT: Much less lonely! Being an Adult is my seventh book but first written with someone else – initially it was a practical thing; the publisher Scribe approached me with the book idea, but my second baby’s due date wasn’t far off so I felt like a helping hand would be good. But it worked out amazingly: Kat’s experiences at growing up were so different to mine, we had far more to draw upon together.
Kat – can you tell us how your skills as a journalist (and author) come in to play when you host live events and panels? KP: The thing I love the most about being a writer is that I get to tell stories, whether that’s talking about a new brand or my own personal experiences. I see (and prepare) for live events and interviews in very much the same way: I structure my questions to try to take the audience on an interesting narrative journey, and I always do way more research than I’ll ever use in reality. Really knowing a subject is the only way I can think creatively on my feet, and it’s saved me more than once when answers have dried up!
What book(s) are you reading right now (or about to pick up)? LT: I just finished Fleishman is in Trouble.. now there’s a very honest book about marriage!
KP: I like to escape into a lengthy saga; I recently finished Fire & Blood and went straight on to Wolf Hall.