This is a guest post from Sarah Juckes, who is the Communications Manager for CompletelyNovel.com. She works with partners and authors to create exciting opportunities for writers in and around publishing. For more information on CompletelyNovel, take their tour.
As part of the Brighton Digital festival this September, CompletelyNovel.com are pulling the publishing process apart in an event in association with BookMachine and New Writing South.
Local publishers, editors, designers, eBook specialists and PR experts are invited to join writers for an informal evening of networking and pop-up talks. Posted around the room will be a series of stands representing one part of the publishing process. Local experts will get the opportunity to speak about what they know best to authors who are looking to find out more about what publishing entails.
With August at a close and summer hours about to expire we thought you could use some upbeat news. We’re thrilled to announce the hiatus is over: BookMachine NYC will be back in action this fall! Mark your calendars for Thursday, November 13, and keep an eye out for RSVP links with further details.
I think we can all agree we’ve had an interesting summer. Though we expected horrendously hot and humid weather, we’ve been met with mild heat and stormy rains. We also expected the season to bring slow work days and news lulls, but instead have opened our papers and screens to sensational publishing stories.
This is a guest post from Mary Ann Kernan of City University, London. Interested in exploring a Publishing MA and UK/EU postgrad fee bursaries? Sign up for City’s Postgraduate Open Evening for 2014-15, 5-7pm on 10 September.
It’s great to be working with BookMachine this year to spread the word about City’s two top-rated Publishing MAs in 2014-15 (thanks, Laura & Gavin!). We’ve done a lot together since 2010, when City’s students ran a conference and networking event with BookMachine. Since then, our alums have interned with them, organised BookMachine events (keep an eye out for Tahira’s in Toronto?) and blogged (I especially enjoyed Emma Smith’s recent blog about Faber Factory). I also hosted a joint NY event with BookMachine in 2013, and enjoyed meeting some of the publishing community there; and we were one of the 2014 BookMachine event sponsors in London. (Time to plan for 2014-15, Bookmachiners?!)
Last Wednesday at 11am we hosted the first #BookMachine Twitter Chat of 2014. The topic of debate was: Will we all be meeting face-to-face in 10 years time?
The question has already been answered in different industries but we wanted to know the answer for the publishing industry.
The discussion consisted of topics such as the importance of personal interaction in business, the role of innovative tools like Hangouts which enable you to have a face-to-face conversations and the new platform to buy and sell rights. Have a look at our Storify.
The Twitter Chat flowed from the general question to more in detail discussions about the best way to do business. Publishers logged on from both Spain and the UK. It was a multicultural and enriching experience for all involved.
Although there was an agreement on the relevance of digital meeting tools as a productive method of conducting business in the publishing industry, the resounding opinion was that the face-to-face interactions are and will be essential now and in the future.
Thanks to everyone who participated and shared their thoughts. We hope to meet online and offline again soon.
With the rise in online rights platforms, and HarperCollins’s recent virtual Romance Festival; the folks at BookMachine are starting to wonder about the future of the face-to-face meetings. The big question is: ‘Will we all be meeting face-to-face in 10 years time?’
On 9th July at 11am GMT, a number of publishers from Spain and the UK will gather on Twitter, using the hashtag #BookMachine to discuss ideas around the next generation of online conferences.
To participate is easy. Simply follow #BookMachine from 11am on the 9th, and join in with the debate, by Tweeting with the hashtag and sharing your thoughts.
The aim is to allow publishing professionals from Spain and the UK to share their knowledge, though do join in if you’re based elsewhere and have thoughts on the matter.
If you’d like to join us on the day, please sign up below:
RotoVision produces co-edition books on craft, art, fashion and beauty and we are now looking for a talented and creative Commissioning Editor to join our busy team in Brighton. Visually minded, enthusiastic, well organised and commercially astute, this individual will be responsible for proposing and commissioning new book concepts in line with the commercial balance of our publishing programme.
This is an exciting opportunity to develop a prolific list in a creative environment. RotoVision has high standards of quality and the successful applicant will have their finger on the pulse of current and emerging trends. Demonstrable experience working with illustrated books is essential and an understanding of the co-edition process is ideal. IT skills must include InDesign.
Please email Isheeta.Mustafi@quarto.com with a covering letter, CV, and salary expectations.
Closing date: Monday 30 June
After much hard work trying to break into the industry, Jasmine Joynson found her dream job as Publicity Assistant at one of the big five publishers. Now managing her own publicity campaigns and promoting some of today’s biggest children’s authors, Jasmine offers her own tips for the notoriously difficult task of landing a first job in publishing…
GET SOME WORK EXPERIENCE
When I was on my first work experience placement, the company was holding an open day for students called something along the lines of ‘How to get into publishing’.
The marketing assistant sitting across from me had been asked to give a brief talk on just this subject. One of the publicists in the department asked her what she was going to say.
She replied, ‘Um…work experience. Then get some more work experience.’
Spoiler alert: the first half of this article is going to be me reiterating this. But why exactly is work experience so vital?
1. How do you actually know you want to work in publishing without seeing what goes on? Work experience is a good way to find out IF you should even bother trying to get into publishing: you can use it as a chance to ask people about their jobs and the industry.
2. It’s unlikely that, for entry-level positions, you will be considered for interview without some work experience. Not impossible, but unlikely. Most jobs advertised in publishing get lots of applicants, and why interview someone who doesn’t have any experience of publishing at all when many do?
3. Without work experience, you may struggle to answer common interview questions like ‘Describe what you think the role will entail’ or ‘What do you think the difference between sales and publicity is?’ It’s also useful if you can ‘give an example of a time you solved a problem’ in a publishing setting.
4. If you impress during a placement you will probably spring to mind next time someone hears of a friend or colleague recruiting. Publishing is a small industry and if a job opens up it’s not unusual for someone to email around to their counterparts in other companies and ask for details of potential candidates.
MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION
When you do find a work experience placement, please don’t waste the opportunity. In short, smile a lot and be willing to get on with things.
You may well be asked to do boring admin tasks like updating spreadsheets, mailing books and booking taxis. Try not to look bored or complain.
It sounds obvious but if you act like you’d rather be somewhere else then the team you’re working with will wonder why you’re there and definitely won’t recommend you in future.
FINE-TUNE YOUR CV
As far as I’m aware (and I’m far too junior to recruit) there are no hard and fast rules about how to format your CV.
What I will say is that publishing is a creative industry and therefore mine is ‘skills-based’. To elaborate, after a little introduction that explains briefly who I am, I list five of my ‘key skills’ (and an example that demonstrates each).
If I were a doctor I imagine I’d lead with my education but as publishing is less prescriptive I think it’s best to focus on what you CAN DO, not what you have done.
PREPARE FOR INTERVIEW
I’m sure there are lots of different interview formats and styles. I had to do a short exercise in my first interview and then talk the two interviewers through the answers I came up with, while in preparation for my second interview I had to make a brief campaign plan.
These are the kind of things you should be told ahead of time. In order to prepare in general just make sure you can talk about your skills and why you want to work in the role you’re applying for.
The other thing I would say is know the list. Find out what they publish and go into a bookshop and have a look at the books if you have time. Turning up at a publisher without at least some knowledge of their list is not going to send good vibes to your interviewers.
KNOW THE JOB
Before you spend time and energy on trying to land your ‘dream job’, be aware of the inevitable downsides of the role. If you managed to do some work experience then you should have an idea of this.
In the final interview for my current job, my then-interviewer, now-boss told me ‘this job involves a lot of admin that won’t go away’. She was not lying.
I spend a lot of my time on admin tasks like updating mailing lists, sending coverage to authors and editors, uploading details of events to our database, replying to external enquiries, dealing with invoices, writing internal publicity updates.
And there are other aspects of working in a publicity department that may not appeal to some, too, such as working evenings, weekends, and very early mornings.
Having written all that, I will now say that I LOVE my job. Publishing is filled with wonderful, enthusiastic people and working with them is a privilege. Everyone is there because they love books.
Working in my current role I have met some of my childhood heroes including Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman and John Boyne. I also work with some of the most inspirational, amazingly talented, hysterically funny people who I hope will be the next generation’s favourite authors.
It can be very hard to break into publishing as jobs are so in-demand. At some points I genuinely believed I wouldn’t ever get anything approaching the job I wanted. But I did. So I would advise you to be persistent!
In conversation with publishers, one sometimes gets the sense disintermediation – a cutting out or unbundling of publishers from the literary value chain – isn’t taken seriously. Publishers assume they’ll always be wanted and needed and that their imprimatur means any attempt to disintermediate will be at worst equivocal, at best footnotes in the grand history of the written word.
Such thinking is mistaken. Papyrus workers, scribes, rubricators, hot metal typesetters and even map publishers probably all once thought themselves relatively secure, yet they have all been rendered irrelevant by new technology. For publishing, digital technology is an ‘out-of-context’ problem: like the Conquistadors in America being technologically more advanced and following imperatives incomprehensible to the indigenous population. Even recognising the true nature of the problem isn’t obvious. It can’t be couched in the usual terms.
Gill Guest (56)
Gill Guest is an aspiring children’s author and sheep-keeper based in Shropshire. Previously a freelance garden journalist, her work has appeared in The Times, Telegraph and numerous glossy gardening magazines. You can find her on twitter @gillguest
Welcome to the London Book Fair. A three day assault and battery by words. It’s my first visit and I follow the wordpath snaking across the tarmac and up the Earls Court steps with some trepidation.
Duly badged, scanned and deluged with more leaflets than I can cope with, I find myself teetering on the edge of a vast shanty town of stalls bursting with books that completely fills the cavernous Earls Court space. I feel completely overwhelmed.
Where to start? What to look at? Who to talk to? I squeeze onto a white banquette next to a woman in killer heels and we beat our handouts into submission. We consult our maps and she heads off, heels clacking. Determined. Professional. Scary.
I phone a friend.
Well, actually, my daughter, who propels me firmly to my first seminar in the Children’s Hub, where I sit on a foam pillar and listen to two illustrators talk about picture books. I take careful notes then stay for another on App and Digital Development: brilliant. Encouraged, I explore the stalls, and eventually get my head round navigating the warren of similar passageways: left at Penguin, right by Switzerland, past the Hatchette book tower and over the irresistible interactive goldfish pond floor mat, creating digital ripples as I go. Virtual paddling is almost as much fun as the real thing.
I’m getting the hang of this now. I meet up with the agent who’s been reading my children’s manuscript, Annette Crossland from A for Authors, for a face-to-face session. I’m invited for networking drinks at the BIC Bar in Tech Central. There I’m told alcohol is free, but tea I will have to pay for. I crook a surprised eyebrow at my daughter and she shrugs.
“What?” she says, “This is a publishing event.”
Clearly, I still have lots to learn next year, at Olympia.
Natalie Guest (27)
Natalie Guest is Digital Content Executive at Ixxus, a tech company building digital solutions for the publishing industry. She curated the Tower Hamlets Writeidea Festival 2013 Literary Fringe, and has written for The Independent, The Sunday Times and New Statesman. You can find her on twitter @unfortunatalie
Publishing is an industry in free-fall, we’re told. Print is dead, content is king, and everyone’s a publisher now. From the thriving mess of stalls at London Book Fair, though, you could hardly be blamed for thinking that this was an industry in its prime.
But this is very much an industry in transition, still trying to get its head around what it means to be a publisher in the digital age. Nowhere is this more apparent than from the topography and semantics of the fair itself: whereas the area dedicated to technology used to be known as the “Digital Zone”, a small and zoned-off patch of earth, it’s now expanded to become “Tech Central” as more and more publishers focus their business strategy around digital. And Digital Minds, the pre-conference conference focussing on digital disruption and innovation, is now an established cornerstone of the fair.
I catch up with walking tech-hub Alastair Horne, perhaps better known by his twitter handle @pressfuturist, for his thoughts on this year’s event. He proffers a battery pack in my direction from his bag of tricks; I’ve been tweeting so much that my phone (and my fingers) are flagging.
“The conversation seems to have moved on only a little since last year,” says Horne, “Digital marketing – as seen in the session at Digital Minds – continues to outstrip digital content so far as innovation is concerned, and the mainstream remains as unaware as ever of the experiments at the edges of the industry.”
Horne’s comments about the mainstream remind me of a joke one of my colleagues told me. “How many publishers does it take to change a lightbulb?”, it runs, the answer, of course, being a bewildered “…‘Change?’” But change is here, if not yet thoroughly embraced across the entire industry. It will be interesting to see whether next year’s change of venue (from Earl’s Court to Olympia) will be one that finally ushers in an entirely new digital landscape.
Most authors do not have a fortune to invest in book publicity, but you’ll still want to ensure that your book launch is given the specialist attention it deserves. Book Publicist Helen McCusker, founder of the award-winning book publicity agency Booked PR, shares her top ten tips on how to achieve maximum results with a minimum budget.
Tom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.
Is writing cool? Actually is the word cool cool? What exactly is cool anyway? Well not writing, at least according to 8-16 year old boys.
Recent research compiled in the report “Children and Young People’s Writing in 2012″ by the National Literacy Trust suggested that one in five boys said they would be embarrassed if friends saw them write, compared to one in eight girls, and boys were less likely to say writing was “cool” (26.8% compared to 35.2%).
Out of the 35,000 8-16 year olds surveyed for the report, 8.6% of the boys said they didn’t enjoy writing, compared to 20.9% of girls. And while 32.6% of girls said they write outside of class on a daily basis, 30.2% of boys said they never or rarely did.
Now I’m certainly not having a go at the National Literary Trust but including the very 90’s word of cool is indicative of how publishing, writing and reading is reflected amongst the 8-16 age bracket. Maybe if words such as sick, dope, the shiz, nasty, or even awesome had been used percentages might have risen.
This is a guest post from Piers Blofeld. Piers is an Agent at Sheil Land Associates where he represents both fiction and non-fiction clients. He represented the Frankenstein app by Dave Morris which topped the app charts on both sides of the Atlantic this summer. A recent success is Jamie Thomson’s Dark Lord: The Teenage Years, the winner of the Roald Dahl Prize.
The most amazing thing – of all the amazing things – that Amazon has done is to have gathered a wholly unprecedented body of data about the world’s reading habits. Traditionally, publishers and booksellers have simply known what people buy. Once the book is in the hands of the reader and out of the store it is, quite literally, a closed book to them. For Amazon it is different. They not only know what people buy, but when they buy, and, much more importantly, how they read.