On being a Rising Star: Sarah Plows interview

Sarah Plows

Sarah Plows manages the marketing and publicity team at Jessica Kingsley Publishers, having previously held positions in the marketing departments of Palgrave Macmillan and Robert Hale. She features on The Bookseller’s 2017 list of Rising Stars in the publishing industry. Here Norah Myers interviews her about her role and recent award. 

1) Congratulations on being picked as a Rising Star for 2017. What does it mean to you?

There are so many inspirational people featured on the list, it’s a real honour to be included. More than anything, it’s a wonderful recognition of how hard the JKP marketing team works as a whole.

2) You implemented JKP’s children’s books catalogue. Why was that important to you?

The children’s books catalogue came about as a result of a cross-departmental meeting to discuss new ways to promote our therapeutic children’s books. We publish books for children on a range of topics including autism, self-esteem, mental health and mindfulness.

We still find print catalogues to be a powerful marketing tool; the children’s books catalogue is sent to professionals who work with children, including counsellors, teachers, school librarians, charities and associations, social workers and parents.

Working with our internal design team is always a joy, and on this catalogue, this year and last, they used characters and other elements from our picture-books to create an eye-catching and effective marketing piece.

3) JKP has recently launched a new gender-focused list. Could you tell us about it?

We launched the Gender Diversity list in January of this year and it has been incredibly well-received. It includes a range of different types of book including picture-books for children, professional books, memoirs, collections of own voice stories, a graphic novel and a practical user guide to understanding your gender. The list naturally fits the JKP ethos of publishing books that make a difference.

Our marketing exec who works on this list works closely with the authors to promote these books, in addition to working with gender diversity associations. Many of the authors have existing platforms, and, as you might expect, social media has been an essential channel for promotion.

Our authors have managed the media interest well, it was rewarding to see Piers Morgan being taken to task by not one, but two of our authors, on two separate occasions on Good Morning Britain!

4) Could you tell us about a few other women in publishing whose work you admire? What makes them stand out?

Sam Missingham is a trailblazer, I’m not ashamed to say that the Virtual Qigong Festival, a campaign we implemented last year, was heavily inspired by the virtual events that Sam initiated at HarperCollins. I admire how she champions publishing and its marketers, but also questions how well we are doing things as an industry – it’s so important that we reflect on both successes and failures and continually look for better ways to do things.

5) What do you look forward to as your role progresses?

We have lots of great books coming up at JKP, we’re finding new, creative ways to extend our reach to our existing markets as well as breaking into new areas. As a team, the exciting things we’re working on include more video content in marketing campaigns, a Virtual Acupuncture Festival for students, and the campaign to promote To My Trans Sisters, a collection of letters by high-profile trans women, edited by leading trans activist Charlie Craggs.

Longer-term, I’m looking forward to seeing how the careers of my team develop – the team includes several talented future stars of the publishing industry!

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  1. Fab article! I worked with Sarah at Palgrave and always thought she was hard working and innovative. Great to hear about her recent success.

  2. I used to work with Sarah at Palgrave Macmillan and I am delighted to read about her success. Congratulations to Sarah and her team! I enjoyed reading this inspirational article.

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