UCA Journalism graduate and motoring writer Sophie Williamson-Stothert has launched her debut book, BMW MINI: An Enthusiast’s Guide, published by The Crowood Press. She wrote the book whilst working for the automotive publishing agency Blackball Media, where she has climbed the ladder to become Features Editor across two monthly magazines.
In her book, Sophie has pulled together a 40,000-word timeline of Britain’s iconic small car, from the birth of Sir Alec Issigonis’s Mini in 1959 to the third generation BMW MINI of 2015. She said: “I was keen to write my first book on a subject I have great passion for, as well as a car that had a significant influence on my career. The classic Mini played a huge role in my childhood – I learned to drive from the age of 10 and got behind the wheel of my first race-prepared Mini at the age of 12, which I built with my dad. I raced for six years before putting my motorsport adventures on hold to study at UCA.”
Throughout her studies, Sophie was determined to be as proactive as possible in order to gain experience and develop a strong network of contacts. Within three months of starting her degree course at UCA Farnham, she had secured a work experience placement at Autosport Magazine, giving her the chance to forge connections with other top titles in the motoring genre.
While at UCA, Sophie also undertook placements at Clive Reeves PR Agency and Propel Technology PR, and completed freelance projects as a motoring correspondent, reporter and editor for publications including Exclusive Magazines, The Bottom Line Surrey, Autosport and Motorsport news magazines, and Racing Vogue – the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club magazine. These opportunities proved invaluable for Sophie’s career development, and soon after graduating with first class honours in 2013, she secured a permanent role as a staff writer at Car Dealer Magazine. Shortly after this, she was introduced to a commissioning editor through her network of contacts – a meeting which ultimately led to her book deal.
Sophie’s contributions to the motoring industry are already being recognised and rewarded, with recent accolades including being highly commended by the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Sir William Lyons Award for young motoring writers in 2012, winning a UCA William Cobbett Award in the print category, and a nomination in the Rising Stars category at the 2013 Headlineauto Awards. Sophie is now a committee member of the Guild of Motoring Writers – the world’s largest and most prestigious association of automotive editorial professionals – where she is Chairman of the Education Sub-Committee, which enables her to visit universities and inspire, encourage and support a new generation of writers. She is also on the committee of WOMAC (Women On The Move Against Cancer), a fundraising association made up of more than 45 female volunteers from the automotive and associated industries.
Sophie says she is determined to encourage others to follow in her footsteps and see their gender not as a deterrent, but an opportunity: “The one piece of advice I would give to a budding writer is to completely forget the stereotypes and put to the back of your mind that you are a minority,” said Sophie. “In my experience, it’s your expertise and dedication that will determine how far you go and how much respect you will earn. Don’t feel like you are on the back foot, because you’re not. If it’s something that you really want to do then there should be nothing holding you back. Whether you are a man or a woman, breaking into this industry can be tough, and it takes a massive amount of hard work and perseverance, but it is well worth it!”
You can find out more about our range of Journalism courses and the exciting careers our graduates have gone into here.