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Fourth Wall is a brand new children’s book publishing company based in the Wirral. They pride themselves on standing out from most other publishers as they’re looking to grow by looking for brand new material through submissions. Here Stephanie Cox interviews Richard Carman, International Rights Manager.

1) Please can you introduce yourself and give a brief overview of your career.

My name is Richard Carman, and I am International Rights Manager at Fourth Wall Publishing. My first managerial role was at Omnibus Press. From there I was UK Sales Manager for Penguin, then South Africa Sales Manager for Dorling Kindersley, which let to five very happy years as Head of Export. Made redundant when DK went bust, I was a freelance for nearly ten years in Africa working for people like Orion, Walker Books, Kingfisher and Kogan Page, and I joined Award Publications in 2010. I joined Fourth Wall in March of this year.

2) Can you tell us a little bit more about Fourth Wall Books? How did it come about?

Fourth Wall Publishing was originally conceived a few years ago, but the owners’ background led them to found a very successful branding and marketing agency first. We work with some very well-known high street brands as well as a lot of the Premier League football clubs. Fourth Wall Publishing was launched at London Book Fair 2015, and the first ten titles published in the autumn of that year. Our pace picked up this spring, and we’ll be publishing around 50 books a year.

3) What is the most challenging part of your role as International Rights Manager?

A lot of the companies I worked with in the past publish different kinds of books to those that we specialise in, so finding new customers and establishing relationships with them from scratch is probably the most challenging element.

4) What do you enjoy most about your role?

I like people, I like being in a busy team and in a creative environment Because the majority of my colleagues are designers, it’s good to be involved in every book from day one of its creation, and to be able to look up from my desk and see books being developed just across the room. And I love book fairs (anyone in publishing who tells you they don’t are liars), and travelling.

5) What trends are you currently seeing in the children’s book market?

YA fiction continues to be a big pull I think, but really good, contemporary, international-feel illustrations seem to be increasing in popularity. There’ll always be the pull of Disney and big-branded products, but underneath that it’s a healthy market too I think.

interactive books

Evan Jones is the founder of Stitch Media, an interactive media production services company focused on telling stories using new technology and timeless techniques. Evan is also the creator of Together Tales, a new platform which brings reading, games and real-life activities together. Here Stephanie Cox interviews him.

1) Tell us a little bit about your background and career

Early in my career I became obsessed with Alternate Reality Games. ARGs are a style of narrative that really couldn’t exist before the internet, because they rely on the audience as investigators who connect different types of media together to make a complete story. They’re also intensely interactive and the best ones consider the audience as collaborators – their theories and solutions inspire the creative team working behind the scenes.

I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with incredibly talented people on projects across every genre. We’ve worked in comedy, drama, documentary, horror, science fiction, children’s, lifestyle – but always with an interactive point of view. Stitch Media is the company that you call when you want to push the boundaries. I’m always working hard to stay ahead of the curve on new technology but more importantly the media trends that are shifting around us.

2) Together Tales – what’s the premise?

Together Tales are Adventure Kits that combine physical books and artifacts with interactive challenges. Parents bring these stories to life as an insider working with the author to plant clues and create coincidences.

For kids aged 8-10 reading the adventures, it’s like the whole story surrounds you. You are a character in the books and your actions end up saving the day. We’ve had a lot of feedback that this product is perfect for ‘reluctant readers’ because it’s broken into short chapters that connect with activities both offline and online.

For parents, it’s like having a creative sidekick for those moments where you want to want to play along with your kids but don’t always have the time or energy to make it up. Adventure Kits give you all the tools you need and simple instructions via email to prompt you at the perfect moment. You’re playing alongside your kids with a cheat sheet from the author.

together tales

3) What made you, as a media and TV professional, look at the idea of interactive books? How did the idea and the concept of Together Tales come about?

We didn’t set out to make an interactive book. Our company never starts with the technology first. It’s that old adage “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Instead we started with a question: “How can recreate some of our fondest memories of childhood?”

We loved reading books, of course – books are imagination fireworks where you can do anything at all. We also loved simple games like scavenger hunts and puzzles. But the secret ingredient is the name of our product – it was those moments we spent together.

Together Tales is a platform to combine all of these things. We rely upon an ‘Insider’ who truly knows the reader. We use the shorthand of parents but it could easily be grandparents or that cool uncle or an amazing teacher. The point is that our adventures come to life in through others – they are the ones who personalise a letter online, print it out and tuck it under the child’s pillow because they received an automated email yesterday explaining that the Magician will be answering their dream questions tomorrow. It’s a system to make more of those memorable moments by connecting them together with a story.

4) What kind of success have you enjoyed so far?

Our first success was convincing a jury to give us the CMF Experimental Fund – it allowed us to build the technology and test the concept until we got it right. The one thing we needed after that was the money to pay for our first print run. We created four Adventure Kits in our first year and launched the concept on Kickstarter – that was really when Together Tales took off. We’ve shipped hundreds of kits out to families now and the response has been incredible. The five-star reviews on Amazon have really inspired us – parents talk about how excited their kids get about reading the stories and their adventures.

It’s also been a huge boost for us to be recognised by our industry. We were nominated for the BookTech prize in the UK this year and for the Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Interactive Project. These endorsements help a great deal in promoting sales.

5) Anything that has been particularly challenging?

Our biggest challenge is everyone’s biggest challenge – discoverability. Our target demographic is parents with 8-10 year old kids and I’m one of them. It’s a very busy and distracted group of customers and we don’t have a marketing budget to spend yet. We know that families love the product but we haven’t yet mastered the way we reach that audience.

6) Why do you think there’s a market for this kind of publishing?

Publishing is not going away. Yes it’s changing but all of the media industries shift when a new paradigm appears. We know this is a crowded market but we feel that Together Tales is something truly new and will strike a chord with the right type of customer.

Together Tales is also built to empower authors to write their own Adventure Kits. Our platform expands with every new book as we build a library of games and technology which are reused in subsequent stories. They’re also not tied to a particular platform. We’re not thinking about the issues of paper vs tablets because we use them all in the way they were intended. Media consumption habits for us aren’t an either/or proposition, they’re all potential for us.

7) Have you found that you have been able to reach out easily to children who may not be particularly enthusiastic about reading?

Together Tales is very accessible because the story is portioned out. The child never sees a huge book because the story is divided into chapters and interactive moments. The first chapter looks like a comic book, but once you’ve read it you’re hooked. The characters need your help and a game begins. It’s not hard to convince kids to play games but when the game is over you want to see how it affected the story. That’s when the second chapter magically appears (thanks parents!) and the cycle continues.

To read the full interview, head over to Stephanie’s blog: Words are my Craft.

 

 

Nathan Connolly is the Publishing Director of Dead Ink Books. Dead Ink was founded in 2010, set up with funding from Arts Council England as a digital-only press. At a time when ebooks were really just starting to blow up, Dead Ink were experimenting with what a book could be. Dead Ink’s focus is now based on two strands: the first is to develop the careers of new literary authors and the second is to do that through experimentation with digital technology in publishing.  Here Stephanie Cox interviews him.

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Howard Kaplan is the author of four novels, three published and one to be released around the time the Damascus Cover film (starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and John Hurt) will be in cinemas in early 2016. Here Stephanie Cox interviews him on the film adaptation.

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Business books

In the run up to Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine will be featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. Alison Jones will be speaking at the Cambridge event. Alison is a business and executive coach, content consultant and publisher. After a 23-year career in trade and scholarly publishing working with major publishers such as Oxford University Press and Macmillan, during which she pioneered digital publishing, she set up Alison Jones Business Services and the Practical Inspiration Publishing imprint in 2014.

Here Stephanie Cox interviews her about the last 5 years in publishing and her thoughts on the next 5.

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Matt Haig appears at Hull Central Library

This is a guest blog post from Stephanie Cox, BookMachine contributor, events organiser for SYP North, Publishing Editor at Emerald Group Publishing and blogger at Words are my craft.

Last month I attended a fully-booked author event at Hull Central Library, featuring Matt Haig, author of numerous bestsellers, including The Humans and Reasons To Stay Alive (and who, by the way, is a fellow Hull University alumn and I had no idea!).

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Janice Fosse is a children’s playwright and writer. Here Stephanie Cox interviews Janice about her love of writing, the difficulties of writing for children and her optimism in the face of a very difficult publishing market.

1. Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your career.

I have been telling stories my whole life. From organizing make-believe on the playground to circulating stories in serial format to devoted readers in high school via spiral notebooks, I mistakenly thought my love of telling stories translated into a love of performing, and for many years my educational focus was on acting, with writing stories nothing more than a diversionary hobby.

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Samantha March

Samantha March founded Marching Ink in 2011 and has personally published three novels since – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket and A Questionable Friendship. Stephanie Cox wanted to interview her as an admirer of her motivation, efforts and work ethic.

1. Please tell me a little bit about yourself and all the different projects you work on.

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This is a guest post by Stephanie Cox, Editorial Assistant at Award Publications Ltd. Award is a 40-year-old organisation which publishes a wide variety of products ranging from picture books to reference texts, from activity books to young adult novels. Here Stephanie tells us more about their lists and upcoming titles.

As one of a small creative editorial team here at Award, I’m involved in the editing of books, organising of book fairs, design of sales material and undertaking social media and marketing tasks. I’ve walked away from the office some days genuinely thinking, “I can’t believe I just got to do all of that and actually get paid for it!” It honestly feels like I’ve finally landed my dream job. And the opportunity to make a big impact on a small company in the coming years is a really exciting one.

Retro is in right now in children’s publishing – which is probably why we’re garnering a lot of interest for our new upcoming Sooty and Sweep titles. On top of that, our Goose & Friends series, written and illustrated by Laura Wall, has been a great success for us. Since the launch of the picture books in 2012, Goose has been translated into numerous languages and sold in over 40 countries. Audio books narrated by Bill Oddie are due for release later this year and an animation pilot is currently under production. The UK Brand Licensing Agency behind the phenomenally successful Hello Kitty, Fluid World, has also been appointed as the new agent for the Goose brand.

This year we’ll be releasing books such as How to Update Your Parents, the latest title in the Louis the Laugh series by Pete Johnson, and the hilariously funny Freaks United by John Hickman. It really is a great time for me to join the company!

To find out more about Award Publications, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 Stephanie CoxAside from her job at Award, Stephanie runs her own blog, Words Are My Craft, posting interviews with publishers and book reviews.

Sherna Khambatta founded Sherna Khambatta Literary Agency in 2007 after gaining a Msc. in Publishing. At the time, the publishing system in India didn’t have many agents so she saw this as an opportunity to bring in a certain amount of structure into the industry and help authors get their work sold. Here Stephanie Cox interviews her.

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Orenda Books

Karen Sullivan founded the independent publisher, Orenda Books, a little under a year ago. They publish literary and crime/thriller fiction. Karen moved to the UK from Canada at the age of 21 and worked for a small independent publisher before forging a career as a health editor and writer. Here Stephanie Cox interviews her on the benefits and risks for independent publishers.

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Julia Roberts is a TV presenter and author. Julia has been working for QVC since its launch in 1993 and had her first book, the memoir One Hundred Lengths of a Pool, was published by Random House in 2013. Earlier this year, Julia self-published her first novel, Life’s a Beach and Then …. This formed the first book in the Liberty Sands Trilogy and she is currently writing the second. Here Stephanie Cox interviews her about writing, marketing and self-publishing.

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Karen Brodie is Head of Publisher Relations at The Reading Agency and was recently picked as a BookSeller Rising Star. Here Stephanie Cox interviews Karen about her career so far, and some of the work she is responsible for at The Reading Agency.

1. Please introduce yourself and give an overview of your career so far.

I’m Head of Publisher Relations at The Reading Agency. I started in publishing in Edinburgh and then worked at HarperCollins and Penguin in the rights departments. I expanded my international experience at the British Council, working on literature projects overseas to strengthen cultural relations for the UK, including the first literature festival in Kurdish Iraq, a language-learning radio programme where I interviewed authors for broadcast across Africa and an Arabic-English translation conference. I moved to Istanbul to manage the Turkish partnerships and programme for Turkey Market Focus at The London Book Fair and stayed a second year in Turkey as Head of Arts extending my arts experience to work on film, fashion, visual arts, music and digital projects. I returned to London with the Iran team to develop the British Council’s UK-Iran programme. Nine months ago I took the job at The Reading Agency. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had such interesting experiences and have met lots of inspiring people.

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Samantha Missingham

Samantha Missingham is Head of Audience Development at Harper Collins Publishers. Here Stephanie Cox interviews Sam about her career so far, the impact of social media on publishing, and the various roles she has held.

1. Can you give my readers a brief overview of your career so far?

Sure. I’ve spent the vast amount of my career working in magazine publishing. I started at a very small company that published financial technology titles. I learned a huge amount working in a small business with a very entrepreneurial boss. He taught me a few simple but important things – everyone in the company should be able to answer the phone & give a decent answer to any question about the business, also, pretty much every call coming into a business is a sales opportunity – if you understand everything that you sell.

I then worked at Centaur on many of their B2B magazines, including Marketing Week, Creative Review and New Media Age. I launched their community site MAD.co.uk (for marketing, advertising & design professionals). This is where I learned about building audiences/communities and the various ways you can get people to pay for content. And yes I was MAD Marketing Manager for a while 😉

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Sam

Sam Rennie founded Readership in 2014. Readership is a reader-generated publishing company where booklovers decide what is published. Here Stephanie Cox interviews Sam about the concept and the success of the company so far.

1. Please introduce us to Readership! How does it work?

Readership is a publishing company controlled by readers. We let them decide what we publish. But, more than that, our goal is to build a community that effectively becomes a company by the people and for the people. We want to be a publishing company that the reading world wants. We also want to let them have more control than the typical user may have with a company. Any changes to our website, what features to prioritise, what services should be added to the company, and so on. It seems like something that would sit naturally in the digital age, because modern technology lets users tell the world what they want, and even lets them help create it, which is obviously vastly different to the age before, where industries basically told their audiences “These are your choices.” etc.

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