Category: Diversity

Tips for how and when to use paid social media advertising

William Horsnell joined Jessica Kingsley Publishers in April 2016 and is the marketing executive responsible for their Education, Special Education, Early Years and Adoption and Fostering lists.  He takes a particular interest in digital marketing and finding new ways to make campaigns more innovative. Here, he discusses the use of paid social media advertising.

Continue reading

Innovative publishing for people who have visual impairments

It’s entirely possible that you won’t have heard of Calibre and yet this organisation is a key part of the publishing supply chain for thousands of adults and children in the UK and EU.

Continue reading

How to secure publicity for potentially divisive books

January this year saw the launch of our new series of books on gender diversity. From first-person memoirs to children’s storybooks, many of these books are written by trans and non-binary people and consider the particular challenges that this group faces.

Continue reading

On being a Rising Star: Sarah Plows interview

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. 

Continue reading

Interview with Alice Curry, winner of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize

Alice Curry is the Founder and Publisher of Lantana Publishing, a London-based independent publishing company nominated for the Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year 2017. She is this year’s winner of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize. Norah Myers interviews her here. 

Continue reading

Interview with Rebecca Lewis-Oakes, winner of last year’s Kim Scott Walwyn Prize

Rebecca Lewis-Oakes is the 2015 winner of the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize. She is currently Managing Editor for Fiction at Egmont UK and has been a commissioning editor at Puffin, Faber & Faber and Scholastic, working across all ages and ranges of children’s books, from fiction and non-fiction to picture books, gift and novelty. Her successes include editing the multi-award-winning Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, commissioning the YouTuber hit Sprinkle of Glitter Diary and developing the first app for the Eric Hill Spot brand.

1) Congratulations on winning the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize in 2016. What an achievement. How has the win helped you professionally?

Thank you very much! It was an honour to win, especially with such a strong shortlist. The shortlist announcement timing was fantastic for me professionally – it came during London Book Fair which is obviously prime networking time, but also on the second day of my then-new job at Puffin. So the prize raised my profile within the industry and also at Penguin Random House, where, being such a big corporate, personal profile is hugely important. Winning the prize gave me a big confidence boost and sense of validation, since the judges recognised the importance of the behind-the-scenes nature of my accomplishments. While it’s often not the glamorous or headline-grabbing side of being an editor, it encouraged me to continue to see the broader picture in my career.

2) Please tell us about a few women working in publishing whose work and careers you really admire. What makes them stand out?

There are so many! Aside from the obvious trailblazers like Dame Gail Rebuck and Ursula Mackenzie, and current heads of houses like Francesca Dow and Hilary Murray Hill, I could perhaps highlight three women at different stages of their careers.

Philippa Milnes-Smith is always impressive, having headed up Puffin spectacularly, then becoming a top agent whose finger is always on the pulse and who is particularly great to work with.

Zosia Knopp is not only a Guinness world record-holding Rights Director, but she is really good at and committed to developing talent in-house. She is very inspiring to see in action, and is extremely generous with her knowledge and time.

Finally, Juliet Mushens (a KSW shortlistee, I believe) through sheer force of personality, hard work and great taste, has had phenomenal success early on in her career as an agent, which is clearly going to continue.

3) You approached Louise Pentland, a YouTube star, before it was popular to commission books from vloggers. What potential did you see in YouTube talent that you felt would fit naturally with book publishing?

Yes, we were only the second publisher to approach Gleam for any of their social talent. Louise in particular seemed a perfect fit for book publishing, since we went to her with the idea of a branded diary because she loves stationery and her followers love it too. It felt like a great project to do in print form, as the YouTube format is perfect for her content such as makeup tips, but this was a brilliant way to extend the interactive relationship between Louise and her audience on the page.

It was that combination of innovative creator and devoted audience that just made sense to us – and has been proven with all the social talent topping the book charts since then.

4) Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

I’d like to have progressed and expanded my current role. Beyond that, it’s hard to say: five years ago I couldn’t have imagined being where I am now, especially with the digital projects I’ve worked on. I never thought I would launch an app for Spot the dog, or help develop an xhtml-based typesetting programme! So I hope in five years I’ll still be open to new opportunities, helping my company run more smoothly and achieve more in whatever format that might take.

5) Why should women in trade publishing apply for the prize (or let others nominate them?)

The very process of applying for the KSW prize is empowering. The judges have designed a rigorous application process which will help women think critically about themselves and their careers. I found that in itself really positive. Being shortlisted and winning was a bonus and a huge boost for me. It’s so important to identify and own your achievements in your career, not just when applying for a new job, but think actively critically about your career in an ongoing way. So I say go for it!

Even though publishing is a pretty female-friendly industry, more can be done towards equality. Every choice that individual women take towards confidence makes a positive change.

6) What’s the most rewarding thing about working in children’s publishing?

Helping children to love reading. The mission statement at my first company, Scholastic, is about helping children to achieve their true potential on society through reading and – while lofty – that has always stayed with me. And it’s only possible because of the brilliant people I work with – across the board, I find everyone in children’s publishing is talented, committed and driven to produce great books for children to enjoy.

The Kim Scott Walwyn Prize recognises excellence and future potential in women in their first seven years of a publishing career. The deadline for applications is Friday 10th February and details can be found here:

Roundup of the Westminster Media Forum Keynote Seminar

Abbie Headon is Commissioning and Digital Development Editor at Summersdale Publishers, and a BookMachine Board Member (representing the Editorial Channel).

I was lucky enough last week to go to my first official publishing event wearing my BookMachine hat, as I wended my way to The Caledonian Club in the heart of London for the catchily-titled ‘Westminster Media Forum Keynote Seminar: Book publishing and the wider creative market – cross-sector collaboration, copyright and new avenues for growth’.

Despite having a total inability to remember the name of this event, I was excited to hear a panel of experts from across our industry discussing the issues of the day, including the likely impact of Brexit, the relationship between publishers and authors, the importance of technology and innovation, and the lack of diversity in publishing.

A force for good

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of The Publishers Association, introduced the event with a summary of the main issues to be discussed – Brexit, copyright and diversity – but what really struck me was his statement that ‘Book publishing is a profound force for good, and one that we should cherish.’ In an era that sees Simon & Schuster USA’s Threshold Editions paying $250,000 to bring us the collected thoughts of Milo Yiannopoulos, it’s a useful reminder of our duty to publish books we can truly be proud of.


Paul Herbert, a partner at Goodman Derrick LLP, gave us a rundown of the specific ways that changes to the EU copyright framework may affect us as UK publishers. In summary, we won’t be facing a full-scale rewrite of our copyright laws, but rather a set of tweaks at the margins.

After taking us through all the details of the likely changes, Herbert explained that, as the new framework will be an EU directive, it will not be legally binding unless enacted by the UK parliament in legislation – so whether we press on with Brexit or not, we will still be able to choose whether to exist in harmony with our EU neighbours.

Working with authors

It says a lot about the publishing industry that authors are seen relatively rarely at publishing conferences. Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, presented us with a list of concerns she has for her members, including the need for a strong copyright framework, for all work by authors, illustrators, photographers and translators to be credited, and for freedom of movement of creators in and out of the UK to be maintained.

Solomon called for accounting clauses to show authors not only how many books a publisher has sold, but also who has sold them down the line, and for authors to be rescued from a ‘triple tax whammy’. Touching on an issue that has flared up frequently on social media over recent months, she also supported the need for more diverse voices to be published, but pushed back on authors’ right to create characters beyond their own identities, saying, ‘Please don’t troll our authors for cultural appropriation every time they put a black face in their book if they’re not black.’

Cross-platform storytelling

Many of the speakers mentioned the competition that books now face as a category, as our attention is distracted by Netflix, online gaming, 24-hour news, social media and more. Crystal Mahey-Morgan described her strategy of reaching a wide audience through cross-platform publishing: her company OWN IT’s first product, Don’t Be Alien, exists as an animated video, a book and a song, and as six-word stories that can be bought as designed t-shirts and jumpers. People can enter the world of this story through any of these products, ranging from a 99p song to a £30 t-shirt.

Another way of looking beyond the book came from Rosamund de la Hay, President of the Booksellers Association and owner of The Mainstreet Trading Company. She pointed out that bookshops are a vital ‘third place’ in our communities: ‘not home, not school, but familiar and safe.’ Her bookshop in the Scottish Borders also has an antiques concession, a deli and a café, and they cross-promote books across the entire shop. Books are displayed with relevant products (just as shops like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters are doing), and the café produces food from specific cookbooks. These strategies, combined with festivals and other events, demonstrate how a book can be far more than just a book.

Another advocate for reaching broad audiences is Sam Missingham of Harper Collins, who described the way that fan communities congregate in different spaces, such as Wattpad for sci-fi lovers. Her BFI Lovefest last year was a virtual book festival delivered via Twitter, Facebook, and Google Hangouts, with a live film screening at the BFI itself. The broad range of events combined with the massive reach of the BFI’s social media following provided a huge audience of people who might not see themselves as natural literary-festival-goers.

Technology and innovation

Justine Solomons, founder of Byte the Book, took us on a tour of innovation in publishing. Her own quest to bring tech companies, authors and publishers together began when she was reading a fellow student’s typescript on a Kindle six years ago and wondered, ‘Why can’t I buy this directly from the author?’

Although self-publishing can seem to be a modern phenomenon, it has a long history, reaching back to Jane Austen, Ezra Pound and Virginia Woolf, and even including J. K. Rowling, the founder of the Pottermore website. Indeed, Solomons argued, traditional publishing can even be regarded as a form of vanity publishing, because it shows that as an author, you need somebody to validate you. She highlighted Unbound and OWN IT! as innovative publishing companies, and Mark Edwards and Mark Dawson as impressive examples of self-published authors.

Oli Christie of Neon Play shared his tips on what the book industry can learn from the world of gaming. His first piece of advice was to be agile and prepared to pivot: bring out products quickly and be willing to change them if they’re not working. Next he stressed the importance of analytics: examining user data and trying A/B testing to find the most successful types of plot and character. Finally, use brand partnerships to extend your reach to much bigger audiences.


This was a constant theme throughout the conference, and it’s one that none of us can ignore any longer. Sarah Shaffi of The Bookseller explained that it’s not just the wealth of competing distractions that turns people away from books; she said that many readers feel the publishing industry ‘isn’t speaking to them in their language or in the spaces that they occupy.’

Shaffi reminded us of the troubling fact that of the thousands and thousands of books published in the UK in 2016, less than one hundred were written by non-white British authors. She also gave an impressive range of statistics showing that film and TV adaptations, which demonstrably boost book sales, are nearly always based on books written by white people and feature non-diverse casts. This is an area where so much more needs to be done, and as Shaffi pointed out, the argument of ‘but we need to be commercial’ just doesn’t hold water: the book on which the musical Hamilton is based saw a 16,000% sales increase in two years, something any publisher would welcome heartily.

Crystal Mahey-Morgan made the ultimate point to close down any argument that diverse publishing is bad for business. In 2016, she published Mama Can’t Raise No Man, by Robyn Travis, which according to reports was the only novel published by a black British man in the entire year. (Take a moment for that to sink in.) The launch event, featuring a gospel choir along with poets and other performers, sold out the Hackney Empire, with tickets priced at £7-£10. So not only is it the morally correct thing for us to do as publishers in opening up our lists to diverse authors; it makes financial sense too. And in this era of constant change, that sounds like exactly what we need.

For more information, check out the Westminster Media Forum website and the Twitter stream from the event at #WMFEvents.

Interview with Literary Agent Diana Beaumont

Diana Beaumont joined Marjacq in 2017; she started agenting with Rupert Heath Literary Agency in 2011 before moving to UTA. Before that she was senior commissioning editor at Transworld. Diana was chosen as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars of 2012. Here Norah Myers interviews her.

1) What do you most look forward to in your new role?

I am looking forward to taking on new clients, developing my existing list and working with the friendly, dynamic team at Marjacq which has been expanding in recent years. I am also keen to explore the local area as our office is right in the heart of London with so much fascinating history as well as great places to eat.

2) Why is it important to you to find voices that are under-represented?

There has been a lot of talk about diversity (or lack thereof) in the publishing world so it’s important to put our money where our mouth is.  We need strong storytellers and writers who reflect our richly diverse society more than ever. And I want people to feel welcome to submit their work whatever their background.

3) You were an editor before you became an agent. How has that influenced your work as an agent?

I always loved working closely with authors on their manuscripts and it’s an increasingly important part of the role of an agent. Manuscripts have to be as polished as possible before you send them out. One of the things I love about being an agent is being involved in a project from its inception. It’s also useful to have an insight into how a publishing company works  – it can be helpful to authors to understand what happens once you send their book out.

4) What advice would you give your younger self?

I think I would advise my younger self to spend less time worrying about things and just get on with it. What’s the worst that could happen? Really?

5) What advice would you give other agents who would like to find under-represented voices?

I’m not sure that other agents need my advice but social media is useful – putting your intentions out there. I am also approaching people who strike me as having something interest or pertinent to say. But I would say that we could all do with reaching out more.

What can publishers learn from the Women’s March London?

On 21st January 2017, I made the journey to London, met with my youngest sister and some friends and we marched from Grosvenor Square to Trafalgar Square along with an estimated 100,000 others.

We were there because, the day before, a man who had boasted about sexually assaulting women, who is endorsed by the KKK and who believes climate change to be a hoax, was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.

In 70 cities around the world, on every single continent, similar gatherings were taking place with the largest being in Washington DC. At the time of writing an estimated 4.5 million people had come out to make their voices heard.

We all had our reasons for joining the march. For me, the most concerning fact is that the election of Donald Trump has emboldened and given a legitimacy to voices that spout racism, white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia. From the moment he began his campaign these voices became more prominent and today they can be heard loud and clear. On the march, our voices were calling for something different: equality for all.

Publishing as a platform

I knew from my social media feeds that the publishing industry had turned out in numbers. We are a female-heavy workforce. I knew that many of the people I marched alongside were working in books. And, as I marched, I started thinking about voices, legitimacy and platforms.

Publishing, as an industry, is about giving people platforms for their ideas, a conduit for reaching an audience. The rise of social media and independent publishing has meant that almost anyone can have access to a platform. People can tweet, they can blog, they can self-publish.

The simple fact is that, today, traditional publishers aren’t necessary for people to reach a big audience. What the industry does add, however, is a sense of legitimacy and significance. The presence of the logo on the spine is a silent signal but a powerful one. Our logos are the stamp of approval and they amplify the ideas within the pages they adorn. As an industry, we choose the voices that get heard the loudest. Now, more than ever, this is a huge responsibility.

Our responsibilities

As I write this, I can hear the familiar mantra of ‘Publishing is a business designed to make money.’ I hear that. I’ve been freelance for four years now and I know that we need to get paid. But we also need to respect the responsibility of our logos.

Freedom of speech is a right but we need to make sure that the loudest voices are not just from a small pool of people. As a predominantly white, middle-class industry we need to make sure that we don’t just look for ourselves in the books we publish and that we don’t take away other people’s stories, granting ourselves the right to tell them through our own, inexperienced words. We need to stretch out beyond the reaches of our familiar audience. Diversity shouldn’t be something that has to be crowdfunded.

Yes, we’re running a business. But our logos have power. Let’s never forget that.

Caroline Goldsmith has worked in publishing for sixteen years. She published fiction under the independent imprint Red Button Publishing from 2012-2016 and now works freelance, providing publishing and writing services. Check out her website

Realities of publishing which I find hard to imagine

Lisa Davis is the Book Purchasing Manager at BookTrust, the UK’s largest reading charity that gifts books to over two million children, including books specially chosen for children with additional needs.

There was recently an article about things that used to be part of a publisher’s day which millennials may find hard to imagine. As a millennial, I don’t necessarily find it difficult to comprehend something I haven’t experienced, and think it’s great how technology has progressed.

However, there are a few things which I actually find hard to imagine about publishing, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Unpaid Internships

It’s difficult to imagine how there are still unpaid internships. It’s difficult to imagine how it’s acceptable that entry-level positions pay so poorly. And I struggle to imagine how in an industry considered to be so liberal and progressive, there’s still a pay gap between men and women. But most worryingly, I can’t imagine how we are still having the debate of diversity.


Diversity isn’t a new development, some new realisation. I might not have been born, but I know those of you who entered the industry in the 80s had some of the same conversations then that you’re having now. When I say diversity, I’m not just talking about the need for racially diverse authors. What about books that are more accessible to those with dyslexia or tactile books for children with vision impairment? There are so many people who think books aren’t for them because books aren’t made with them in mind. I find it hard to imagine that this need is still not being addressed by more than a handful of publishers.

Social Responsibility

Or maybe I don’t. Because I also find it hard to imagine how publishing has become so commercial that it has lost elements of its social responsibility. No, a book full of tactile and interactive elements won’t look good on a P&L – but think of what it will mean to a child who can’t access a board book. It speaks volumes when it’s industry news that a bestselling book like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be made available to people with sight loss. This shouldn’t be news – it should be a standard.

While there has been much technological progression in publishing, I don’t think we can be sitting comfortably when some of the most important issues around the industry haven’t changed in decades. I can’t accept we were too busy coping with changes in technology to address these.

So I am a millennial, and I want to create a publishing industry that doesn’t leave future generations scratching their heads, finding it difficult to imagine how the industry is still excluding members of our society when we had the opportunity to fix this.

Inclusivity and diversity in publishing: Interview with literary agent Isobel Dixon

Isobel Dixon grew up in South Africa, studied in Scotland and now works in London. She is a director of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency where she represents a wide range of writers from around the world. Norah Myers interviews her here.

1) Why was it important to you to speak at Building Inclusivity in Publishing?

Inclusivity is important to me as a life principle (especially as someone who grew up in as privileged white person in a completely segregated country, apartheid South Africa). It’s a principle I seek to carry through to my work, both with my client list and with my like-minded colleagues, aware though of how much more there is to do. I think in a political era where polarisation and open prejudice are on the rise it’s more important than ever to be proactive about promoting inclusivity and openness. There’s growing awareness of this in the agenting and publishing community and the Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference was a positive sign of collective effort on this front.

My colleague Juliet Pickering and I were both involved at the conference – we wanted to meet other people with shared concerns, get fresh ideas, be challenged to think more broadly – and I think the day was productive on those fronts. I went away with lots of food for thought and met people with whom the conversation will continue, including other agents. The Association of Authors’ Agents is keen to do more and will help facilitate more connections and action.

2) What can literary agents do to make publishing more inclusive for workers?

On the employment level we all need to look at our recruitment practices and (paid) internships and see what we can do to be more attractive as a profession to talented and ambitious candidates from diverse backgrounds. Organisations like Creative Access can be valuable partners here, but I think agencies have to make it very clear that they are actively seeking to hire in a more open fashion as well.

Taking on interns and entry-level staff via personal recommendation and family contacts in the old-fashioned publishing style limits the pool of talent to those already connected. The publishing industry needs to seek to forge new connections. At Blake Friedmann we recognise we have good university links, but need to find ways to reach schools as well, before students make their university pathway choices, to show that there are exciting and varied careers in publishing and agenting – in rights, marketing, the specialised finance expertise of royalty accounting and so on– not just editorial roles. We’re looking into all of this, also with regards to the internship project we’re launching next year, The Carole Blake Open Doors Project, where we want to draw candidates from beyond the London metropolitan area, from diverse backgrounds, and not necessarily with university degrees (Carole Blake, who was a hugely respected agent, and was posthumously awarded Agent of the Year by the Romantic Novelists’ Association, went into publishing straight from school). What we do require is a passion for books and an ambition to succeed in publishing – but we need to reach out and tell people more about the industry, throw the net out wide. You can see more here.

3) As an agent, do you actively seek out diversity in your client list?

Yes. To start with I represent South African writers from a range of different backgrounds, with recent new UK deals done for Zakes Mda (his LITTLE SUNS sold to Jacaranda Books –  where founder Valerie Brandes who is quoted in our Open Doors announcement, did an internship with us some years ago), and the Estate of K.Sello Duiker (his children’s book THE HIDDEN STAR sold to Cassava Republic).  Achmat Dangor’s new novel has just gone to Picador South Africa who will also re-issue his Booker-shortlisted BITTER FRUIT. This month Blue Mark Books published the late Tatamkhulu Afrika’s classic novel BITTER EDEN and I am closing some exciting new deals for prize-winning Indian writer Manu Joseph. More great work on submission (or soon to be) by Australian-based South African Sisonke Msimang and British-Eritrean author Sulaiman Addonia, among others, also across the agency.

I am always interested in writers with different global perspectives, and try to attend varied events and read the shortlists for prizes like the Caine Prize. I heard Hannah Lowe read her poems about her Jamaican-Chinese father at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and it was the power of her words and the story she told that blew me away. However, I don’t take on many new clients, given the existing range of my list, but luckily I have fantastic colleagues, Juliet Pickering, Tom Witcomb and Hattie Grunewald actively building their lists. We’re very collegiate in sharing projects we think more suited to each other (though encourage authors to choose one of us to submit to – more guidelines here). Recently Juliet Pickering took on Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene and worked with them on their proposal SLAY IN YOUR LANE: The Black Girl Bible, which went to Helen Garnons-Williams of Fourth Estate after a hotly-contested 9-publisher auction just before Frankfurt.

Literary agents wishing to expand the diversity of their lists have to think a bit more creatively about scouting out talent, not just wait passively for submissions. Keeping an eye on authors supported by organisations like Spread the Word, attending the growing numbers of festivals and events that feature more diverse talent is one way, and social media is also an important platform for young writers.

4) What are you most optimistic about with regards to diversity in the next couple of years?

That people are starting to take the issue seriously now, having recognised there is a problem in the industry. A few years ago so few people thought this question mattered. Now it’s become part of the conversation, and I think some real momentum is building to effect multi-level change. But we still need more appetite for acquisition from publishers as well, as we so often encounter commercial caution here.

5) What advice would you give a new agent who is interested in promoting inclusivity and diversity?

Some of the practical advice is above, but more generally there’s a watchword I also quote for writers, from Henry James: “Be someone on whom nothing is lost.”  Keep your eyes and mind open. Don’t just follow fashion. Question your assumptions and be open-minded about genre too. Read widely, engage energetically, listen to what other people are reading and loving, be curious, and hungry for the stories no one has yet told, and find the people who tell them brilliantly.  Then sell them – and therein is another whole chapter. You have to commit to work you are passionate about and feel you can sell, to earn an income for the writer, but you may often have to be pretty damned determined, if not downright stubborn, to succeed with work that’s not perceived as the most mainstream or easy. But that’s part of the adventure.

Isobel is also a poet. Her latest collection Bearings is out from Nine Arches in the UK and Modjaji in South Africa, and Scottish publisher Mariscat brought out her pamphlet The Leonids in 2016. See more on her agent page and her poetry website.

Making publishing more diverse: Interview with Josie Dobrin

josie dobrinJosie Dobrin is Chief Executive and co-founder of Creative Access. Creative Access works to tackle the absence of diversity in creative industries by providing young BAME people, paid training opportunities in creative companies and supporting them into full time employment. Norah Myers interviews Josie here. 

1) How has Creative Access promoted diversity in book publishing?

Creative Access was born out of the 2011 British Census, which showed that over 40% of Londoners are non-white. Simultaneously Skillset’s 2012 Workforce surveys showed that ethnic minority representation across the creative industries had fallen to just 5.4% of the total workforce.

The absence of diversity in the creative sector is not only bad for our society but is also bad for business, which thrives on having a diversity of ideas and opinions. As a result of this, Creative Access was founded in 2012. It provides opportunities in the creative industries for young people from under-represented black, Asian and other non-white minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME). In just four years we have placed over 680 interns with over 270 different partners across ten creative areas, with book publishing being one of our leading sectors.

In the last four years, Creative Access has placed over 115 interns in publishing companies, trade press and associations and literary agencies (see summary at bottom of this document). Of the Creative Access alumni, those in the publishing sector have by far the highest rate of conversion to full time roles at the end of their internships (87% compared to average of about 74%).

2) How do you see Creative Access progressing in the next three or four years?

Creative Access is constantly evolving and responding to feedback from both interns and media partners. We introduced a buddy system for new interns, an intern clinic for anyone dealing with issues throughout their internship and training for those who have completed their internship, but want support with the next phase of their career. We are also trying to encourage as many of our partners as possible to promote permanent roles with Creative Access so we can encourage our alumni to apply. We are also working with the Publishers Association to develop Apprenticeships within the sector in order to deliver on the job and offsite training to a different and even broader pool of applicants.

There is no question that there has been an improvement in the publishing industry in recent years, but the sector now needs to make better use of diverse leaders in senior roles within the sector to fly the flag for those coming after them. I think the major challenge for Creative Access over the next three to four years (and the industry itself) is to support those at entry level to reach management positions.

3) What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your work with Creative Access?

We have faced lots of arguments against Creative Access such as the positive discrimination/reverse racism claims posited by people such as Katie Hopkins. I understand that it’s frustrating for people to see roles advertised with top companies that they are not eligible to apply for. However, we believe that by opening the door to industries which our young people might otherwise not have access too, this is the best way of enriching the industries themselves and also of breaking the cycle of “who you know” rather than “what you know”.

Creative Access only funds training opportunities and not jobs, which means all our interns need to prove themselves and ensure they are the strongest candidate for a job if and when they apply for one.

4)What advice would you give your interns who are now part of the publishing industry?

Our advice to anyone looking to work in the industry would be to research your sector inside out. The creative industries are extremely competitive, so if you want to succeed, you need to make sure you are equipped with as much knowledge as possible. You don’t need to have paid work experience to enhance your CV; you could write a blog about your favourite books, authors or genres. You could organise a book club, author readings and charity events or create your own films, which you upload to YouTube. We would also suggest that you get a mentor. There is nothing more valuable than getting regular advice and guidance from an industry professional who has experience in your chosen field.

5) What advice would you give publishers who look to make their work environments more inclusive?

There is ample scope to place many more Creative Access interns in companies who have already taken interns and there are dozens of publishing companies and literary organisations with whom we have not yet worked. We have a fantastic alumni network which publishing companies should feel free to approach when they are recruiting for permanent roles within their organisations.

Publishing (unlike other creative sectors) is fortunate to have extremely committed and effective trade bodies and sectoral press in the Publishers Association, the Society of Authors and the Bookseller who have lots of resources available for publishers wanting to make work environments more inclusive.

Publishing can also learn from other industries. The television and film industries in particular have had success in improving the diversity of their workforces because funding bodies have introduced quotas which ensure that in order to receive a grant, a company needs to satisfy certain diversity criterion, eg the BFI’s three ticks diversity scheme and Channel 4’s Two tick’s scheme for disability. They have also invested in an industry-wide monitoring programme, Project Diamond which will ultimately lead to much more transparent practices.

Unpaid internships are not a good thing and we never work with companies who will not pay their staff. Very few of the young people we work with can afford to work for free and yet if they don’t demonstrate on their CVs that they have experience it can be much harder for them to get that first important role.

Other initiatives by some publishers, such as abolishing the requirement for degrees and the introduction of apprenticeships are also having an impact. There are also schemes by the major publishers, Penguin Random House, Hachette and HarperCollins who they can follow:


  • Total amount of interns: 691
  • Total amount of publishing interns placed to date: 114 (17 current interns)
  • How many in full time positions now: Approximately 87%
  • Amount of publishers and literary agents that are media partners: 36 (see list below):
    • Aitken Alexander Associates
    • The Artists Partnership
    • The Bookseller
    • Bloomsbury
    • Canongate Books
    • Cassava Republic Press
    • Critical Publishing
    • Curtis Brown
    • Faber & Faber
    • Furniss Lawton
    • Hachette
    • Harlequin
    • HarperCollins
    • Headline Publishing Group
    • Hodder & Stoughton
    • Hot Key Books
    • Hurst Publishers
    • B.Tauris Publishers
    • Inpress
    • Jo Unwin Literary Agency
    • Kogan Page
    • Little, Brown
    • Octopus Publishing
    • Oneworld Publications
    • Orion Publishing Group
    • Pan Macmillan
    • Pluto Books
    • Publishers Association
    • Random House
    • Rowman & Littlefield
    • SAGE Publications
    • Society of Authors
    • Sweet Cherry Publishing
    • The Roald Dahl Literary Estate
    • Unbound
    • United Agents
    • Walker Books

In addition to co-founding Creative Access, Josie is a former Director of Lexington Communications and press advisor to the Mayor of London and has many years experience working with Government, charities, voluntary and community groups. A school Governor, mum of three and self-confessed book worm, Josie is passionate about ensuring equal access to the Arts. 

OWN IT! snaps up rights to debut novel by exciting new British voice JJ Bola

Crystal Mahey-Morgan at OWN IT! has won a keenly and closely contested auction to the very special debut novel ‘No Place to Call Home’ by JJ Bola, in a deal negotiated with Maria Cardona of Pontas Literary & Film Agency.

Kinshasa-born (1986) and London-raised, JJ Bola is currently doing a MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, as a result of being one of the three recipients of the Kit de Waal Scholarship.

With great characters and seamless prose, set between London and the Congo, No Place to Call Home is a tale of belonging, identity and immigration, of hope and hopelessness, of loss –not by death, but by distance – and, by no means the least, of love.

JJ Bola is already a well-respected London poet who has built a strong reputation on an international stage (he currently holds the Oakland Poetry Slam title). He is also an educator as well as the creator of the increasingly popular adage ‘Hype your writers like you do your rappers’.

Maria Cardona says, ‘At Pontas Agency we couldn’t be more delighted. JJ Bola is a very special writer with a unique voice. Crystal’s passion and vision for this debut is exactly what we were looking for and we expect great things. There’s already been much registered interest from different corners of the world.’

Crystal Mahey-Morgan says, ‘JJ Bola is a beautiful storyteller and this is a unique and accomplished novel made all the more exciting by the fact that it’s a debut. It is both light of touch but deep in feeling and meaning. Full of localised nuances in different times and places and masterfully woven together to simultaneously capture the essence of human heartache and human triumph. I’m confident that JJ has an exciting career as a literary fiction author ahead of him and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of his journey from the very beginning.

OWN IT! has acquired World English print, audio and multi-media rights excluding print and non-enhanced eBook in the US & Canada.All other rights, including film, TV and translation rights are handled by the Pontas Literary & Film Agency.

OWN IT! will publish No Place to Call Home next June 2017.

children publishing

Publishing for children: a thought-piece [winning blog idea October]

Each month BookMachine offers a community member, with great ideas, the chance to write on the site. This month Barb Kuntova, a publishing student at University of Stirling, had the winning idea. She is very much interested in children’s publishing and poetry publishing. You can follow her on Twitter (@ibreakfastbooks), instagram (@laylajaglovs), or read her blog (

Children’s publishing is definitely at its peak – never have there been so many children’s books published as there are now.

Diversity is a hot topic and an important consideration. It is important to think about including a range of races, disabilities throughout books, and consider learning difficulties and the fact that some children find it very difficult to read. This should not be confused with not wanting to read. We need to include as much diversity as possible in children’s books – represent them in fiction as well as non-fiction, so that they know it is okay to be themselves.

Some people assume that writing and publishing for children would be the easiest way to write. There is nothing easy about publishing for children and, more importantly, it is most definitely not easy to write books for children – especially write them well.

Lots of people think they can write picture books, for example. Picture books need to be short, make sense, help development and be readable for the hundredth time for the parent as well. Not an easy task.

When we are children, we are the most curious, and question things more than at any other point in our lives. Children will question everything in your book: plot holes, character holes and lazy development of the plot.

The difficulty about publishing books for children is that there is not one target audience, but two. Children are rarely the buyers of the books. It is their parents or teachers who do the book selection and the book purchases, which, for a publisher, means that they have to target their book campaigns towards two separate audiences.

One of the ways authors find audience for their titles nowadays is through social media. However, if you are writing for children, you cannot, and indeed should not, have contact with children through social media. This means writers need to find different ways of interesting their readers – and their buyers.

Children’s non-fiction books are also on the rise. It shows just how interested children are in the world around them. They want to learn. They want to know. And they want to read. Let’s make it even easier for them to do this and keen focusing our energies on this upward trend!

Some of the ideas in this article were inspired by Kathryn Ross (literary agent) and her visit to the University of Stirling.

Diverge! How thinking differently could boost your career

In an industry that outsources most of its physical tasks and processes, what’s the one thing that can set you and your organisation apart from your competitors? The way you think…

Anna Faherty, publishing professional with over 25 years’ experience, spoke at Tuesday’s The Galley Club event on divergent thinking in publishing. Anna’s provocative session encouraged us to employ new ways of thinking in order to embrace uncertainty, make sense of complex situations and – ultimately – innovate beyond the development of new products.

Here are our seven takeaway points, and a list of Anna’s top tips.

1) Diversity

Referencing a recent US survey, which highlighted that the vast majority of publishing staff identify as white (79%), female (78%), straight (88%) and non-disabled (92%), Anna stated that publishers need to be more diverse in order to make products for a wide range of audiences.

2) Backgrounds

Publishers also need to come from more diverse backgrounds (not just English graduates who ‘love books’). The industry thinks too similarly, but we need to think differently in order to develop innovative ideas, products, platforms and business models.

3) What does the future look like?

Publishers (who are uncomfortable with uncertainty) ask closed questions about the future of publishing, but this doesn’t tackle the reality that there’s no answer to these questions. The future of the industry isn’t a puzzle with a solution, but a story with many possible versions of the future – one which we can influence.

4) Give yourself permission and time to think creatively

The first ideas you come up with probably won’t be all that original, but give yourself enough time and you’ll get past common thinking.

5) Use your environment

Look around and draw links between your surroundings and the problem.

6) Focus on the process, not the output

Lots can be learnt from the creative process, so don’t be too focused on the output and miss important opportunities to acquire knowledge along the way. Anna’s own research into book discovery is a good example of this. While she visualised a number of customer journey maps, the true value in this research is the insight gained about book discovery during that process, rather than the maps themselves.

7) Don’t let words limit you

Words are precise and convergent: the minute you name something, you close down what it means. Try drawing or using imagery to think divergently.

Top Tips

To round off the evening, Anna left us with her top tips:

  • Do thinks differently – Walk a different route, talk to different people, and watch TV or go to restaurants you wouldn’t usually
  • Give yourself the freedom to incubate ideas – Get plenty of sleep, go for walks, or play the piano (or a similar hobby)
  • Be prepared to write (or draw) it down – Keep a notepad or your phone with you at all times
  • Talk about your ideas – Sharing your thoughts (however stupid) will spark more ideas
  • Set aside time to be creative at work – Make time to think, come up with new ideas, and then test them out. Keep testing each idea – drop the ones that don’t work and pursue the ones that have potential until the seem worthy of investment.

anna fahertyAnna Faherty is an award-winning researcher, writer and teacher. Anna now collaborates with publishers and museums on a diverse range of print, exhibition and digital projects. She also holds academic posts at Kingston University, Oxford Brookes University and UCL.

Get the latest news and event info straight to your inbox


+44 207 183 2399

Incubation at Ravensbourne | 6 Penrose Way | Greenwich Peninsula | SE10 0EW

© 2019 BookMachine We love your books