BookMachine Oxford March [REVIEW II]

Bea Longworth is director and co-founder at Whooc Publishing Ltd, a fledgling startup making first-person fiction apps for young adults under its Freed Fiction imprint. 

A few minutes after arriving at House Bar, I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Is there going to be a talk or something?” It was a valid question – Wednesday night marked the debut of BookMachine Oxford’s ‘With…’ event format.

Quite simply, ‘With…’ is a BookMachine social (kaleidoscope of publishing types + alcohol = stimulating conversation) with the addition of a speaker slot. Think of it as a very delicious networking doughnut with the bonus of expert jam in the middle.

This week’s jam was provided by Richard Sullivan, MD of Osprey Publishing, on the theme of collaborating with non-publishers. The general gist was ‘I kissed a wargamer and I liked it,’ but unlike Ms Perry, Richard was keen to emphasise the importance of establishing long-term, sustainable relationships with partners. In his experience, communication is the key to happiness – set expectations right from the start, be prepared to explain yourself often and pay attention to what your partner is trying to tell you. As in publishing, so in life.

I must confess I’m a newcomer to the publishing world. After a brief post-university flirtation with literary agencies and graduate programs, I ended up spending ten years in the murky world of technology PR. It took a big idea and a very convincing partner (VERY convincing – he’s also my fiancé!) to tempt me back into publishing via a startup.

Obviously being a newbie has its disadvantages – I’m pretty much resigned to regular outbreaks of foot-in-mouth. But an outsider perspective can also be useful and Richard’s talk chimed with a theme I keep hearing: overlap between the worlds of ‘traditional’ publishing and gaming is proving to be extremely fertile ground, both creatively and commercially.

I’d love to hear what you BookMachiner’s think – is this a fad or a genuine industry trend? I’ll be keeping my ear to the ground for more gaming-related projects at the London Book Fair in a few weeks – hope to see you all at BookMachine LBF drinks on April 15th!


As Bea mentioned, the next BookMachine event in the UK is at The London Book Fair on Monday 15th April. More details here.