By Lewis Calvert @BigWriteHook
In an interview with Liverpool Life magazine, I spoke about about graduating from John Moores University, the trials and tribulations of running Big Write Hook, career aspirations and much more.
The questions were asked by LJMU student journalist Liam Cork @liamcrk…
How old are you?
I will be 27 on Halloween
When did you graduate from LJMU?
I got a 2:1 in 2016 with a mark of 69% overall. It still pains me to this day that I didn’t get a first because I fluffed my second year!
When did you officially launch Big Write Hook?
I was blogging for a little bit and produced my first digital magazine in March 2017. It was only 6 pages “long” and featured the first David Haye and Tony Bellew fight.
How long was the website running before you published issue no.1?
The website is fairly recent. I produced 15 monthly digital magazines before I launched the website back in August to coexist with the printed version of the quarterly magazine. Free content on the web, exclusive paid for content in the mag.
What would you say is your biggest achievement since launching BWH, or since your time at LJMU?
Winning the business grant from the LJMU Centre for Entrepreneurship was a real vindication of all the time and effort I had put into the brand over the previous 12 months. People laughed at the idea of me making my own printed magazine, so to prove them wrong was good, but more so it was great that other people, besides me, are willing to believe in me and invest in my vision.
I care more about the personal things
But I care more about the personal things; I give every person who gets in touch the chance to write for us regardless of ability. I’ve had one guy’s wife say she was ‘so proud of him’, another lad take a picture of the magazine next to his one day old baby and say ‘daddy is a published writer’ – they’re the things that mean the most to me – bringing a little bit of joy to someone else’s life.
Career aspirations? What is your 5 year plan?
Quite simple really: dominate the world and become a billionaire. But if that doesn’t come off, just get a fulfilling job, whether that is in marketing, publishing or for a creative company. I just want to work somewhere that values me, my skills and I can make an impact. There is no money in the magazine, I just do it because I want to, it beats playing Call of Duty all day like a virgin.
Have you always been into boxing? How long for?
From the age of about 10 I think. My namesake Lennox Lewis had a fight with Mike Tyson and I was a fan from there on really.
Any job where I can watch Liverpool, be funny and lambaste the Tories would be ideal
Did you always want to be a sports journalist?
I’ve always been into journalism and stand-up comedy, so I’ve been involved in a mixture those two things for most of my adult life. As a kid I wanted Chris Bascombe’s job as chief writer in the Echo for Liverpool FC. As I got older I liked Brian Reade’s political, yet funny, opinion pieces in the Mirror. But also, I love Louis Theroux documentaries and his job would be amazing. I done a fair bit of stand-up in my late teens and early 20’s, so any job where I can watch Liverpool, be funny and lambaste the Tories would be ideal for me. I currently work in marketing, but who knows where I’ll be after this.
How did you find the transition from working on the University’s magazine to managing your own?
A little bit easier to be honest. In uni there are a lot of rules: minimize blank space, make sure text lines up, use a professional writing tone etc. and that’s a great base to learn from, but when it was just me and then Ryan Wilson, the magazine designer who came on board, all the rules went out the window!
Whatever everyone else does, we will do the opposite and that’s what makes us stand out. We can swear, joke, write colloquially and we are not limited by having to be marked by lecturers. Ryan deserves all the credit in the world for that, he has given the mag a unique style and without him we wouldn’t be where we are now.
The hardest part is managing so many people, I’m in discussions with about 20 odd writers at any one time, plus editing and everything else, it’s hard to fit it all around work, friends and family.
Have you had any other Journalism related jobs during or since your studies?
I volunteered for Wirral Radio as a news reporter for about six months, but nothing remotely interesting has ever happened in The Wirral so that was quite boring. The people I worked with were lovely though.
I also presented my own weekly show on Redmen TV (a YouTube channel for Liverpool FC fans) for a full season. I came up with the idea of a news roundup show discussing the youth teams, social media stuff and fan comments. Creating content was really fun, I’ve made some good mates from it and learned a lot of Photoshop and video editing skills too, so that’s came in handy with the mag.
Had your time with JMU Journalism adequately equipped you for these roles?
Absolutely. Just listen to your lecturers; they know infinitely more about everything than you. One thing I would say is that I never did the course to get a degree. I done it to learn skills and test myself academically for three years. Learning design, HTML code and writing structure have benefited me no end. But mainly how to organise your time properly are key to keeping those infamous John Mathews plates spinning in the real world.
I wanted to write about boxing, but every man and their dog had a blog, website or podcast. So I thought “what skills do I have, that other people don’t?” and it was that mixture of journalistic skill and magazine design. I only have those skills because of all the Journalism staff and I am very grateful for their hard work.
Are you still based in Liverpool? Do you plan on staying?
I currently live in Wavertree and ideally I’d like to stay in Liverpool because I don’t want to have kids with a little wool accent, but if I bag a high paid job somewhere else then I’d have to consider it.
Beyond BWH, do you have any major plans for the future?
Well, this summer I got down on one knee and proposed to my girlfriend, Grace, at the Trevi Fountain in Rome and luckily enough she said yes. So we’re getting married in August next year. That’s pretty major like.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since graduation?
Getting a decent job after graduation is really tough. I got a job for a charity called the Stroke Association and was there for a year, but the pay was absolutely woeful. It took me about 6 months, over 100 rejections and I don’t know how many forms to fill out before I got my current role. Even then I had to beat the 100 people who applied for it. My experience with Wirral Radio, Redmen TV and the mag really helped me though – so do stuff outside uni (not just a stupid vlog), that will help you at the interview stage.
What are the major things that you have learned managing your own publication?
I am not as good a writer as I thought I was. I have published authors and professional journalists who write for me and they are so much better than I am. I mean, I’m not too shabby, but these guys are on another level. Another thing is, people with the best intentions will let you down very last minute, so don’t take it to heart and have contingency plans in place.
Also, writers and creative people need strict deadlines – so set them very early because they will inevitably be late. Time management is massive: fitting everything around work, shopping, nights out, setting the mag agenda, editing website pieces, you have to be really organised. It saves you so much hassle in the long run. And finally, you can never do work hungover. I try it every weekend and it’s impossible. So don’t factor in a Sunday as a work day because it’s never going to happen.
The second issue of Big Write Hook is due to launch on 7th November 2018.