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A day in the life of a Marketing Manager

Caoimhe O’Brien is Marketing Manager for Endeavour Press. Prior to this she was Endearvour’s Marketing Assistant, after working in the publicity and marketing department at Phaidon Press.

7.45am I eventually manage to get up, get ready and negotiate the tube.

9am I make it to the office. After the stress of the rush hour the first task is to make a strong coffee!

9.15am – 10am –  The first hour or so of my morning is spent going through my emails. Sometimes, thankfully, this can be quite painless, but on certain days, Mondays usually, there can be quite a long list… I usually have lots of emails from authors asking about marketing plans for their books. I have a pretty in-depth ‘hints and tips’ sheet that I send out to everyone, with advice on how to set up Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook author profiles, smart Twitter tips, and steps on how to create a basic author website; but most authors still have lots of questions for me about how to help make their book sell as many copies as possible. As we manage a huge list of authors, all keen to promote their book as much as possible, my job involves a lot of author management.

10am –1pm –  Most of my day today will be spent planning and booking promotions for next week. As it’s coming up to Christmas – one of the busiest sales period of the year – this is more important than ever. I am responsible for promoting our huge list of over 3000 books, and, at the moment, this involves working with more than 200 books every week (my spreadsheet is pretty intimidating!). To most publishers, this volume sounds crazy, but over the years we have put such great systems in place that things run smoothly (most of the time!). The main way I promote our books is through price promotions. At the moment, we publish exclusively with Amazon, and all of our books are enrolled in KDP Select, so I make the most of their Free Book and Kindle Countdown Deal promotions.

1pm – 2pm Lunch. Today I am taking out an author who I recently helped sign up, to discuss a marketing strategy for her book. This is her first book with a digital publisher and she is keen to learn as much as possible about how digital marketing differs to traditional print marketing. We work right opposite Borough Market, and there are loads of great lunch places, so I like to invite authors in as much as possible as an excuse to make the most of them!

2pm – 4pm Once I have set all of my Free Books and Countdown Deals, I submit those books to various online deal sites. Some of those are submitted quite far in advance (I pick a selection of around 100 books to submit to Amazon every quarter for them to include in Amazon Daily and Monthly Deals; and I also submit to BookBub once a month, when I think books have enough reviews to be considered for their mailing list), but others can be submitted fairly last minute. The main sites I use on a weekly basis are EReaderNewsToday, BookSends and ManyBooks, though there are plenty of others out there.

4pm – 4.30pm I’m responsible for Endeavour’s internship programme. We have two interns here every month. I receive around 5 CVs each week and read them carefully to find the right interns for Endeavour. We like to think that interning here is a fun and educational experience. Interns at Endeavour don’t make tea or run errands; they get involved reading submissions, helping with social media campaigns and learning about the business. At the end of their time here, I like to bring each intern for a coffee to chat about how the internship went, answer any questions they might have and offer some advice about getting work in publishing.

4.30pm – 5.30pm Once a month, I compile sales figures for the previous month. KDP is quite an easy platform to use and it makes checking sales pretty easy, but it’s still a mammoth task tracking the sales of such a huge list. Our books are available for sale worldwide on Amazon and it is really interesting seeing how different books sell in different countries. I also track the results of the weekly promotions that I run using Ereader News Today, BookSends and ManyBooks. Seeing the success of these promotions is one of the best parts of my job!

After work And now for everyone’s favourite part of publishing – socialising! Tonight, I am going to the Crime Writer’s Association Christmas Party in the booklover’s paradise, Goldsboro Books. Events like this are great for chatting to fellow book enthusiasts and for finding potential new authors.

life as a freelancer

A day in the life of a startup founder

John Pettigrew is CEO and Founder of Futureproofs, where he is trying to make editors’ lives better with software designed for the jobs they actually do. A recovering editor himself, John has been working in publishing since 1997, including stints on academic journals, educational textbooks, and print and digital materials of all kinds. 

06:40 Radio 4 comes on the radio. They’re talking about Brexit in Parliament so I’m quickly out of bed!

06:50 Make packed lunches for the family, then get our two children fed, packed and out of the door and off to school. Now I’ve got time to have breakfast – and one of my few chances to read a book during a weekday!

08:00 Grab half an hour for meditation with my wife before we’re both off to work. It’s hard to be still with so much going on!

08:30 On my bike for the 4-mile ride to the office. It’s fairly warm and not raining today, so I count that as a win.

09:00 Daily stand-up meeting. Every day, our whole team gets together for 15 minutes so that everyone can share what they did yesterday and what they’re planning to do today. This makes sure we all know what’s going on in the business, and gives us the chance to discuss anything that’s blocking progress. Fortunately, today, there are no blockers!

09:15 The first hour or two of every day I spend making sure I’ve dealt with all incoming emails from customers or potential customers. My general focus this week is fixing some final calls before Christmas, and starting to make appointments for January, so there are several emails to answer.

09:45 Realise that I’ve not had a drink yet, so I head to the kitchen area of our shared office to make myself a refreshing mug of hot water. (I used to drink vast volumes of tea but had to quit when I got IBS a few years back. But plain hot water’s a surprisingly good drink!)

09:50 Back to the emails.

10:30 With the overnight emails out of the way, it’s time to check on our users. I head to our support website and check that nothing unexpected or unfortunate has happened (although I should have received an email if it had). Then, it’s over to our admin website to download the numbers on how many users have been using Futureproofs and check that we’re on track.

10:50 The big task for this morning is updating our cash-flow projections in light of our actual performance so far this year. (The next Board meeting is at the end of this week: the Board’s job is to hold me to account, as CEO of the company, so they need full updates on our performance. Fortunately, our Chair is fantastic – both rigorous and supportive.) So, for the next couple of hours, I’m deep in financial spreadsheets showing our projected sales and costs. I check that they’re still realistic given the conversations I’ve been having with potential customers and revise where appropriate. I also check that our costs are as expected and that we’ve not had any surprises that we hadn’t planned for. Once this is done, I email a draft of the updated cash flow to our Chair for his comments.

12:45 Slack (the instant-messaging software we use to keep in touch during the working day) tells me that one of our developers has pushed an update to our development server. He’s been working on a new feature that I’ve wanted for some time, so I give it a bit of a workout and send him some feedback – it’s nearly there but there are a couple of edge cases where things aren’t working properly yet.

13:00 While my mind is on the product, I go to our project-management software to review the next few tasks that the developers will be working on. We describe all our features as user stories (that is, in the form, “As a [user role], I can [do something] so that [I achieve some goal]”) so that the benefits to users are always clear in anything we do. I need to clarify a couple of points in the acceptance criteria for one user story, and move a couple of tasks that we don’t need to do just yet into a later release. I also review the recent user feedback that’s been pulled in from our support website, and tag some suggestions to the user stories they relate to (so that we can remember why we’re going to do those tasks, when it comes to it!).

13:15 Time to have lunch, so it’s down to the kitchen area for the packed lunch I made for myself earlier. My office is in a co-working space for startups, and it’s great to be able to spend some time with people who understand the madness of my work life! Although most of them are still in their 20s or 30s and miss most of my cultural references…

13:45 Back to my desk with another mug of piping hot water. Now, I need to check through our CRM system and catch up on my tasks. A Customer Relationship Management system is basically a contacts book combined with a to-do list – it keeps track of everyone we’re talking to and all the emails we’ve exchanged, while also reminding me when I promised to get back to them. Today, I’ve got quite a few emails to send to check in on people I want to meet again soon and chase a couple of case studies we’re working on.

14:55 Another cuppa!

15:00 Quick phone call with our Chair to get his feedback on the draft cash flow. I need to make some changes and add some explanatory notes for the meeting on Friday, so I do that and email the result back to him.

15:45 If you want your startup to grow, you have to keep bringing in new potential customers. So I spend some time on LinkedIn finding relevant people at companies I’d like to talk to, and send them messages. This can be surprisingly effective, if you can write a message they want to read!

16:15 A new version of the new feature from earlier is on our development server, so I take a look and give a bit more feedback. So nearly there now, I can taste it!

16:30 Grab the backup drive from my desk drawer and start backing up my laptop. I do this every day, just in case. (Once you’ve had a hard drive die on you, it becomes surprisingly easy to make time for this. Always make sure you back up everything regularly!)

16:31 While the backup is running, I do some more work on revising our website. The existing site is pretty awful and I’ve been wanting up update it for a long time. (A word to the wise – don’t bother with a content-management system. Just learn HTML and write the website yourself. It’s quicker and easier, and avoids all the headaches of software updates and training.) The new site is a complete rebuild from the ground up, and it’s nearly there now. I refine some of the responsive styling (so that it copes with mobile devices better) and swap out a couple of images that might have been misleading. Making screenshots fit angled computer screens from stock artwork teaches me how to use a tool in my photo editor that I’ve never had to touch before, which is nice!

17:30 Throw my laptop into my bag and it’s back on my bike to ride home. Still not raining!

18:00 Dinner with the family and then some time to relax together until the children go to bed.

20:30 With both children in bed, my wife and I have the rest of the evening to ourselves. We do the Guardian Quick Crossword with a mug of tea and then watch some TV. I must be honest, though, and admit that I’m second-screening while I watch. Our website still isn’t finished, and I do some more work on the text and make sure the buttons are properly visible over the background.

22:00 The day’s almost over, and one thing I can guarantee about tomorrow is that it will be almost completely different to today! But, this morning, I finished the novel I was reading and so I spend a few minutes perusing my bookshelves to find something interesting to read in bed. Good night all!

2017 in review

A day in the life of a Publisher Account Manager at Nielsen Book Research

Nielsen Children's UK SummitJaclyn Swope is a Publisher Account Manager on the Book Research team at Nielsen BookScan, where she assists a variety of publishers with understanding and utilising both retail sales and consumer data, through training sessions, presentations and bespoke analysis of book industry trends.

8:41 (okay okay more often 9am): I get the train from Surbiton to Woking, appreciating that I’m going the opposite direction of most commuters as I easily find a seat. Occasionally I’ll be going the other direction into London, if I have a meeting or training session at any publishers’ offices – typically at least once a week I’ll be out of the office in some capacity.

9:30 Settle in, COFFEE, boot up my email, see what has come in since I left yesterday. Chances are there’s at least one password reset. I have around twenty publishers on my BookScan client list, and then three colleagues with similar lists, so with that many users, resets are needed often! And I choose to view this as a sign that lots and lots of people are using BookScan, which is always good news!

10:00 It’s Tuesday, which means charts day. BookScan will be loading the latest week’s sales this afternoon, so our Production team spends the morning making sure everything is on track and there are no anticipated problems.

10:15 Right now I’m finishing up our monthly newsletter that goes to clients, in which I sum up how book sales in the UK and Ireland are doing this year so far (good news, they’re up!). I usually try to pick an extra topic to write more in-depth about, and this month I’ve decided on Christmas books – specifically, books with ‘Christmas’ in the title, and how many of them are in the BookScan charts over the past month. (And then I remind myself it’s only mid-November and Christmas is still over a month away.) I’m also using our Books & Consumers data to look at books specifically bought as Christmas gifts, to see how buying behaviour differs.

11:30 Receive an email about a password reset. Done!

11:45 I look through some contract renewals that I have coming up in the next couple of months, and start to put together proposals to send to those clients that outline what’s covered in their subscriptions.

12:45ish Time for lunch – I usually just eat at my desk, or maybe pop into town if I need to pick anything up. More often than not I’m watching YouTube videos or reading Buzzfeed/other various articles…

2:00 BookScan goes offline to upload the latest data, and we’re warned not to log in lest we disrupt the process and ruin the afternoon for everyone.

2:30 We send out weekly UK and Irish charts, and some extra reports to various clients.  Inevitably we’ll discuss amongst ourselves what does or doesn’t surprise us about the week’s bestsellers (the new David Walliams sold HOW MANY COPIES this week?!).

3:00 BookScan comes back up – time for another password reset! Fixed with the click of a mouse.

3:15 A query comes through from a publisher on the best way to run a specific chart, as the results she got were different than expected. I walk her through running the chart and try to pinpoint what might have gone wrong.

3:45 I’m doing a webinar soon on how to access and use market share data in BookScan, so I take some time to run through what I’m going to cover, and come up with potential questions that attendees might ask. It’s a bit nerve-wracking – I’m used to training rooms of people but speaking into a computer and being recorded adds a different aspect!

4:30 A couple more emails have come in, one password reset and a query about running BookScan data. I answer those and go through and make sure I haven’t missed anything throughout the day. A lot of my day-to-day is very reactive to what my clients may need or ask for; I never really know what may come up, which keeps things interesting!

A day in the life of a commissioning editor

headshothAmong other things, Emily has worked as a picture researcher, a freelance copy editor, proofreader and indexer, and has also contributed to several books on fashion and design, including The Fashion Dictionary and Fashion: The Whole Story. She’s now a Commissioning Editor at RotoVision.

7:30 After an early start I get the train along the south coast to Brighton, where the RotoVision office is based. In July this year a new Quarto office was opened with 7 of our imprints housed under one roof – making it the largest publishing hub in the South East. The best thing about working in Brighton is the wealth of local talent available – it’s a city filled with creative people which makes it a very inspirational place to work.

8:30 My first task is to reply to any emails that have come in overnight from authors or illustrators in the US or Australasia. As we work with many US and international publishing houses we have to make sure we create books that appeal to an international audience. This quiet period is also the perfect time to edit any texts that have come in.

9:00 Most people are in the office and this is when it gets really busy. The office is a combination of people working on books that are in production (live books) and those of us working on potential books (BLADS) – with quite a lot of overlap between the two when required.

10:00 We have our weekly BLAD catch up meeting with editorial and the in-house design team where we discuss progress on all the books we are hoping to put into production. These meetings usually last a couple of hours as we hammer out initial concepts, content and design and discuss scheduling and workload.

12:30 Well-deserved lunch break after all that talking. We are very lucky in that our office is less than a minute from the beach – it’s a great place to take a breather and think about new ideas while you take in some restorative sea air!

1:30 I spend a good couple of hours a day sourcing new illustrators and authors for our books. Our method of working is somewhat unusual as we generally come up with an idea in-house and then find talented authors to work with.  Once an author or illustrator has been approached and seems interested in our idea the negotiation starts, where we have to agree on a fee and a timetable that will suit us both.

3:00 A part of my day is inevitably dedicated to admin. I have to work up contracts and author briefs, update our schedule and finance spreadsheets and make sure all our synopses are up to date.

4:00 A final check through of emails. I like to fire off as many author approaches as possible at the end of the day as there’s nothing better than arriving in the morning to see an inbox full of yeses from people!

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