Working In the Book Trade: The Business of Selling Books

Did you know that the UK is the world’s biggest exporter of books?  Publishing is a large and growing industry and the total number of books published in the UK last year was 173,000.  Publishing businesses in the UK alone have a collective annual turnover of £6 billion, making the UK the fifth biggest market in the world after the US, China, Germany, and Japan. On average, the UK publishing industry employs 30,000 people directly and roughly 70,000 people indirectly spread across over 8,000 publishers. Publishing is now a multimedia business and last year digital books accounted 15% of the 360,000,000 physical and eBooks sold. Ebook sales have dropped a little in recent years from 17% to 15%, perhaps because they are being rapidly displaced by digital audio books! These figures give you an idea of the size and importance of the publishing industry.

Earlier in the month, Parissa Bagheri from Atwood Tate was invited back to her alma mater, the University of Greenwich, to attend an event they were holding to discuss Working in the Book Trade: The Business of Selling Books. The panel of speakers included CEO of Bonnier, Perminder Mann, CEO of Hachette, David Shelley, and the Ex-Chairman of Blackwell’s Bookshop Trevor Goul-Wheeker. These leading figures in publishing and the book trade shared their experiences and journeys into publishing, offering advice to those in the audience looking to do the same.  We know a lot of our followers are aspiring publishing professionals or still young in their publishing career, so wanted to share their insights with you too.

CEO of Hachette David Shelley was first up in telling the audience about how he entered the industry. David’s parents owned a second-hand bookshop, so he was exposed to the sales side of publishing from an early age. He began his career as an Editorial Assistant for Alison and Busby (a well-established small publisher).  He kept the company running for 5 years and encompassed problems along the way, such as the book distributor going bust and relocating the office near to Brixton near to where he lived. The owner of Little, Brown asked David if he would consider buying a few books a year as an Editor and he joined the company, which eventually led to his promotion to Publisher, then Head of Division, and finally to his current role running Hachette UK!

Hachette publishes 5,000 books every year and has a staff of 18,000. David explained that the editorial departments receive 1,000 applications for every editorial assistant job, whereas the sales team often only receive around three direct applications. He emphasised the importance of exploring different sectors; foreign rights professionals get to read, travel and correspond with authors whereas, production departments, whilst equally driven and creative focus more on the people and processes in the background. David also advised that publishers are looking for people who are keen to work in finance, also stating that the first two to three years of entering the industry is all about grafting your way through. It is necessary to differentiate yourself from others, don’t rely on just the contacts you have. Don’t be afraid to be bold and fearless in your first year, don’t undersell yourself, and be proud and show off your achievements. People love to mentor younger people, so offer to have coffee with them to show your passion and interest!

His tips for a good cover letter are:

  • Look up the books that your target publisher is publishing and research its heritage
  • Brilliant quality writing – this is a reflection of how well you can communicate
  • Talk about your favourite writers, what are they doing?
  • Be thoughtful and considerate
  • Don’t follow the rules strictly, break rules and disagree!

Bonnier is the sixth largest publishing company in the UK and its CEO Perminder Mann also talked about her experience in the publishing industry. Growing up, she spent much of her time reading, making sure to build up her English vocabulary. She spent time interning and eventually had an interview with Macmillan for a role in its in Special Sales department. She was offered the job, which she explained was quite challenging, but she used the opportunity to gain as much knowledge as she could. Perminder was then promoted in sales and travelled throughout the UK to meet buyers. Later she moved to Transworld (now part of Penguin Random House) as an entrepreneur in a five person team, and faced the problem of not having as much contact or support, constantly having to juggle between having a career and being a mother. She survived that and then moved into children’s publishing, but was travelling too much and decided to move out of publishing altogether.  Publishing isn’t quite like any other industry, though, and she ended up returning when she was offered a position at Bonnier.

Perminder talked about how at Bonnier you don’t have to choose between a career and family, as you can work flexibly she has put benefits in place such as a good a maternity policy.  This is something that Perminder is extremely passionate about given her own experience throughout her career and she is now in the middle of improving paternity pay and continuing to champion equality.

Finally, the ex-chairman of Blackwell’s Bookshop Trevor Goul-Wheeker took to the floor to explain how he fell in love with the publishing industry. Trevor started off as a bookseller and fell in love with the book trade, partly because of the people involved in it. Blackwell’s is a well-known book retailer, but as the digital publishing industry gradually took over, Blackwell’s was forced to start closing stores and were closing 16 high street shops every day. Currently, the UK bookshops account for 41% of books sold with ecommerce accounting for 35% of book sales. However, Trevor stated that bookshop recommendations are still the number one influencer when people are choosing which book to buy.  He believes that bookshops still offer customer engagement and a valued experience and that bookselling and publishing go hand in hand.

All three speakers did emphasise that you do not need a masters to get into publishing; most publishing companies prefer more hands on experience, which shows a variety of skills.  They also all agreed that ecommerce and ebooks are slowly taking over from print as they are easier to access and to read on the go. Audio books are now attracting a new demographic of “readers” and enabling publishers to tap into a new market. Publishers are already and will continue to learn about and develop in the area of audio.

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Frankfurt Book Fair 2019

It is only a week to go until the start of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2019, so we’ve put together a collection of top tips and things to do and see while you’re there! These suggestions are aimed at anyone attending, whether you’re coming as a student, publishing professional, job-seeker or just trying to increase your knowledge of the publishing and media industry. Even if you’re an annual attendee at the event, we’ve got some ideas for you!

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Plan your time in advance: there will be many conferences and events throughout the day so it is important that you check the schedule in order to see what events might interest and benefit you the most. It is a huge venue with plenty going on, so by planning your time well, you’ll be able to get the most out of the fair! Do also use the hall plan to avoid getting lost!
  • You will be meeting clients and important contacts, so you do want to be smart and ladies might be tempted to wear heels, but trust me, you will most definitely regret this decision. The Frankfurt exhibition centre is huge and the book fair is spread across several halls, so you will for sure be on your feet all day. Wear flat shoes or shoes that are comfortable. Of course dress code varies but you can never go wrong with business casual, a pair of flat clean shoes or boots will keep you comfy throughout the day!
  • Considering it’s an all-day event and you might well be using your phone to contact colleagues, show clients clips and perhaps be taking plenty of photos and videos yourself, bring a portable phone charger! Download the Frankfurter Buchmesse App for a convenient guide around the fair as well as a timetable of the event. Do take pictures of impressive stands you like as a reminder to yourself, but most definitely share them on social media too!
  • As this is the biggest international event of the year for the publishing industry, there’ll be a lot of people and food stalls and stands will have queues! So remember to carry a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated! Bring a snack if you’re super organised. It’s very easy to get hot and dehydrated in big events, to avoid the long queues and high prices at the cafes!

Lastly, although you are out in Frankfurt for the Book Fair, it’s also important to plan some chill-out time, so that you don’t get overwhelmed! Walking around all day or keeping a constantly cheerful face on for your back to back meetings is exhausting. Frankfurt is a beautiful city in the centre of Germany and there is plenty to see and do to escape for a little while! Take some time before arriving to see what there is around and see if there is an alternative venue that you can escape to to, whether that be cultural things to do and see or places to eat and drink in peace! This is a tough event for anyone prone to anxiety in crowds, so be prepared and look out for friends and colleagues who might be struggling a bit.

Here is a list of places you might like to visit near/around the venue:

  • If you get a tired of the traditional German food, this traditional Japanese restaurant called Mangetsu, offers great Japanese food and is a great place to go if you’re in need of some quiet space.
  • The heart of Frankfurt is The Römerberg: Frankfurt’s Old Town Centre, this town centre is filled with traditional buildings, a very picturesque square that will look amazing in photos!
  • The Palm Garden is the largest botanic garden in Germany, so it is definitely worth seeing if you have the time. I’m sure the garden will look fantastic during the Autumn season!

For more places to visit around Frankfurt click here!

Make sure to check what events are going on throughout the fair and which companies are attending!

Byte the Book is networking at the book fair this year and are offering Networking Drinks on October 16th in the fair from 9pm till late! This will be a great opportunity to meet some new people from the media and publishing industry and would be great to broaden your knowledge on both industries! For more information on the event click here!

In case you weren’t aware Norway is the guest of honour this year so to honour that we’ve decided to share some of our favourite Norwegian reads:

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

Harry Hole thrillers series by Jo Nesbo

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

We look forward to seeing you all post about the event, do keep in contact via our Twitter, tweet us pictures and information about the event we’ll be glad to hear from you!

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How to Convey the Value of Your Transferable and Soft Skills to Prospective Employers!

What are soft skills? Soft skills are defined as character traits or interpersonal aptitudes that effect the ability to work and interact with others in a work environment. We most often learn soft skills at school, in the classroom, directly or indirectly.  They are not always “people skills” but are abilities relating to emotional intelligence and can be useful for all industries and job types.

Examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Problem-Solving
  • Work Ethic
  • Adaptability
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Time Management
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail

Hard skills unlike soft skills are more job specific skills that are usually acquired through education or training. They are based solely on technical knowledge. Hard and soft skills complement each other in the workplace: hard skills reflect whether you would be suitable for the job and the technical skills it requires, whereas soft skills are unique and personal as they reflect the way you deal with situations specific to a work environment or the role for which you are applying.

“94% of recruiters believe that soft skills outweigh experience… 75% of recruiting professionals have cut an interview short because a candidate didn’t demonstrate the soft skills needed for the position they had applied for.”–Forbes

Soft skills distinguish you from other employees as they are unique to your individual personality. They also tend to highlight your leadership skills and this is what employers most often look at. There are many ways that you can show off your soft skills to your employer, generally this is usually over face-to-face interviews. Using examples is a brilliant way to show off your soft skills as you can demonstrate how valuable your skills really are and how these have aided you in many difficult work situations. For example, it is particularly important that when asked questions about difficult work situations you cleverly answer with how it got solved or what you would do differently next time rather than just stating the final result.

Here are some examples of common soft skills and their DOs and DONTs:

Team Work & Collaboration

  • Avoid ‘I’s’ and use more ‘We’s’.
  • Make sure to mention team accomplishments as well as personal ones, how you contributed to team effort.

Perseverance & Dedication

  • Show confidence in why you made certain decisions.
  • Emphasise your passion and dedication to work, as it is a reflection of your work ethic.
  • Give examples that reflect your perseverance to accomplish anything, both work problems and personal work goals.

Time Management & Organisation

  • Time management is a clear representation of how efficiently you work.
  • It reflects an organised candidate, who shows how passionate and seriously they want the role!
  • If you have good time management skills, it reduces the likelihood of stress within the workplace.

Problem Solving

Describe how you solved a problem step by step e.g. “First I spoke to my manager and then…”

Soft Skills in Publishing

Now that you know all about soft skills, which of these will be the most important when you are applying and interviewing for a role in publishing?

Effective communication and emotional intelligence are important in the world of publishing. It is important to understand the mood, tone and the values of those around us. Fair and consistent communication is essential; being able to asses and attend to emotional needs is integral to gaining understanding.

Openness and honest are also very important. For those just starting a career in publishing it is imperative to be open to the entire experience being a learning process. Being honest in saying ‘I need help’/’I’m not good at that’ shows your interviewer/employer that you do struggle but are willing to learn and grow within those personal struggles.

Finally, learning with agility is another key soft skill in publishing; everything is a trial and error both in life and in the world of work. It is okay to fail in work tasks as long as you’re learning quickly. Persevering demonstrates your potential and growth in character. Always strive for better and work proactively within your job. You may find that in publishing certain traditions are kept, but all businesses look ahead, so having employees who are equally forward thinking helps the industry to grow! For more information on transferable soft skills click here!

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Why you should go for a sales role in publishing!

Our editorial roles receive a huge amount of interest, however our sales roles not as much. This made us stop and think, why not?

Many graduates come to us and ask our advice on how to launch their editorial career in publishing, which is great! But… editorial is not the only option available to you!

In this blog, we want to discuss why sales roles are also great and can even aid your future editorial career.

First things first, you want to work in publishing because you love books, right? Sales roles are the perfect way to express your passion! Why? Because you get to talk about books all day long!

It is your job to get the books out there! You go through lists, samples and catalogues deciding which bookstores need which books. What better way to spend your working day, than browsing the latest titles and most likely even receiving a copy for your own personal collection!

Sales roles are very social roles – you will work with a range of people from editors and writers to designers, buyers and journalists. This means you receive a comprehensive understanding of the industry.

A sales role will also give you knowledge of the market and trends; this will aid your knowledge if you wish to work in a commissioning editorial role for example.

Another advantage of sales roles is that they enable you to develop transferable skills. One of these being communication, a skill desired in every role.

In a sales role, you can find yourself working for many different publishers and selling to many different types of customers, this will enable you to develop key relationship building skills.

A sales role does not necessarily mean endless cold calling and this definitely is not the case in publishing. You are more likely to meet customers face to face in a more consultative sales approach. You may find yourself selling to bookshops, retailers, universities, or even software to libraries and hospitals.

This kind of sales approach means you get to have interesting conversations, develop strong relationships and take a break from being in the office!

You are also likely to be invited to events! A new store opening for example.

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BIC Breakfast: Towards a Greener Book Industry

In the UK we are becoming increasingly concerned about climate change and more and more of us are thinking about how we might take some responsibility for making our world greener. I attended the BIC (Book Industry Communication) Breakfast to hear about what’s happening in the publishing industry.

Carnstone’s Book Chain Project speakers outlined how they’ve been working with 28 publishers to review issues in the supply chain. There are 3 main areas they’ve looked at:

Labour & Environment

Labour standards and work conditions at printers need to be regularly assessed. There is the issue of modern slavery particularly in the Far East and the onus is on publishers to monitor this.

Chemical Safety & Materials

There’s a lot that publishers can do to in terms of materials choices. However, it’s not as simple as stopping using glitter as children’s publishers need to supply the demands of the market (and it turns out biodegradable glitter really isn’t?!)

Forest Sourcing

Publishers can look at using sustainable wood for pulp eg buy from mills that source wood from plantations in place of supporting deforestation.

Neil Springall, Head of Operaions, Penguin Random House Distribution clearly feels we all have a moral duty to start making changes and drove a plan to focus on a reduction of plastic use at PRH. He had some great quotes including: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” Robert Swan

Incredibly over 40% of all global plastic usage is in packaging. Publishers mainly use plastic for shrink wrapping and carton filling to protect books.

After only a few months, PRH have already achieved a 47% reduction and are aiming for 75% soon.

One major change has been a move to ‘multi use pallet lids’ – these are an expensive product but save both on huge amounts of shrink wrap and labour time. They now employ 4 people full-time to shred all their cardboard which is then used as packaging material in place of plastic. Brilliant!


Another issue is reducing mileage for transporting books between printers, distribution centres and bookshops. This lead nicely onto the final speaker…

Dave Thompson of Publiship gave a round-up of shipping and gave some fascinating facts – did you know that:

  • 90% of world trade is moved by sea
  • Shipping containers were only introduced in the 1950s and widespread adoption from the ‘60s is the largest contributor to globalisation (and not the net!)

There have been improvements in engineering over recent years helping reduce emissions but container ships still emit enormous levels of Carbon Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide (international shipping accounts for 2.1% of all CO2 emissions). Publishers need to get books from their printers to countries around the world and there are other options:

Clearly, shipping is the best option and ‘slow steaming’ (takes c. 1 week longer) saves huge amounts of fuel and emissions.

I also learnt about Ballast – ships take on huge amounts of water to stabilise as they use up fuel / when empty of their cargo. They load the ballast water in the source port then discharge at the destination port with issues that they’re potentially discharging polluted water and predatory sea creatures. Fortunately there are laws in place to help avoid this now. Thanks to Alaina-Marie Bassett of BIC for organizing such an interesting event. If you’d like to learn more about BIC see @BIC1UK and www.bic.org.uk



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Summer Reads!


A seemingly perfect crime, what can go wrong? A couple honeymooning in paradise find something in the water. Deciding to keep it a secret, they think they are the only ones who know about the discovery. They soon find out that their actions have deadly consequences and someone else knows their secret. A good thriller and the perfect summer book that hooks you in right from the very first page.

At the heart of this gripping read are a trio of brothers, a disappearance and a lack of suspects. Set in the Australian outback, this atmospheric thriller is not one to be missed this summer.

`One of the year’s most unmissable debuts’. Queenie’s life seems to be spiralling out of control, a family that don’t understand her, a boss that doesn’t seem to notice her and a man she can’t get over. Queenie is a character you will be rooting for from the first page.

A story of love and war. The Biafran War is told from the perspective of three characters whose lives are interwoven in ways they would not have imagined. This novel is great if you love to immerse yourself in historical fiction with compelling and intelligent characters.

Non-fiction that stirs the desire to make change. Mainly aimed at black women but plenty to take away for everyone. A read that will make you challenge your assumptions and think about `space’ in different contexts and ways.

May not be the typical relaxing holiday reading but worth it! Set post world war ll, a woman with financial inheritance attempts to build economic prosperity in a small community in Australia where her romantic interest lives.

Some more summer reading tips:

http://ow.ly/AS2z30pcRlBh

http://ow.ly/M3hp30pcRnR

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Welcome to the team Azraa!

Azraa has joined Atwood Tate as our new administrator where she will be supporting the permanent team! Azraa will be supporting our consultants by carrying out key admin duties. Recently completing her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and with a keen interest in the publishing industry and a love for books, Azraa was drawn to us!

What is your favourite book series?

My all-time favourite book series is the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare!

What is your dream destination?

My dream destination is to visit Bali!

If you could have dinner with anyone dead/alive who would it be?

I would have dinner with Margaret Atwood because I’m a huge fan of her work, I think she’s very inspiring and would be an interesting dinner date!

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Byte The Book on The Future of Culture and Storytelling

Byte The Book hosted an event in June 2019 at the Groucho Club “What Does The Future of Culture and Storytelling Look Like?” The panel, hosted by Tortoise’s Michael Kowalski included Alex Holmes of Mostly Lit, Ines Bachor from the Frankfurt Book Fair and Pan Macmillan’s Technology director, James Luscombe.

The panel agree that predicting the future can be incredibly hard and not many would have predicted the recent spurt in popularity of audiobooks and podcasts. Hopefully they’ve still not reached their peak and there will be lots more opportunities to engage with authors, interviews etc. The panel agreed people really like the authenticity of podcasts.

On thoughts for what new tech will be coming soon:

James has been playing around with a voice app but it’s really hard to control and is still too early for the available technology. 4G made downloading and accessing content much quicker and easier and it’ll be interesting to see what 5G will bring…

Ines talked about cutting-edge areas for storytelling methods. Innovative story telling is coming with immersive content and AI eg Springer brought out an AI textbook but there’s still the question of how to monetise these kind of products.

Alex mentioned what some of the audience agreed with – the future is scary (he referred to Black Mirror! And that we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

The panel agreed there’s a huge amount of stories and content out there, which means that the really good things can get drowned out. As well as great books, there’s so much extra marketing content too – everyone is a storyteller, with social media we’re now living in a storyfied world.

An interesting question from the audience was to see how many people use Siri etc with only 25% of the room currently engaging. So we all love reading but it might be a while before we ask them for a bedtime story!

https://bytethebook.com/

#bytethebook

https://bytethebook.com/report of the event and pics

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Publishing for Animators and Video Editors


Last week we went to the Inside Bloomsbury: Publishing for Animators and Video Editors event and we had a great time! We even got to view the video created for the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone!

On the panel was Head of Digital Marketing Trâm-Anh Doan, Anthony and Jason from Robot Ninja and chaired by Senior Marketing Manager Rachel Wilkie.

The panel discussed the campaign for the 20th anniversary, why they chose Robot Ninja to be the animators, how they worked together and why it was so successful.

The Campaign

Trâm-Anh told the audience that the aim of the campaign was to bring back the feeling of nostalgia and make people feel emotional again. The team decided that the best way to do this was through animation by bringing back the focus to the words and the books. They used social media for fans to send their favourite Harry Potter quotes that are used in the video.

Why Robot Ninja?

When deciding who to hire as the animators, Robot Ninja shone! Robot Ninja opened their pitch with puns and GIFs to show that they are fans and want to be a part of the franchise. They added more creativity to the brief with 20 memorable moments that people could share as GIFs.  

What were the next steps?

Storyboards and google sheets were created and fans were asked for their favourite moments. Trâm-Anh is used to seeing designs in a finished format, when being shown unfinished proposals and storyboards with lines and sketches the panel laughed at her `what is that?’ responses.

Robot Ninja worked with existing illustrations by Jim Kay. Working with existing artwork did take some time and Photoshop was often used. They wanted to bring out words individually and move away from faces, how else to represent Dumbledore? His cloak!

When creating the sound Anthony and Jason thought back to the times they sat in the office making funny noises into the microphone. They did not like Trâm-Anh’s choice of music; instead, they went with a slower track to allow for the up and down emotions in the video to breathe.

How to make everyone watch it?

Franchise partners shared the video; they were set up to post when it was released. Facebook featured the video on their creative hub. The video was posted at 8am in the morning, for people to be able to watch on their commute. By 10am, the video had 1 million views, which then reached 11 million!

Loop able GIFs were released throughout the year to keep engagement levels up. The aim was to make each moment interesting on its own and be able to loop it repeatedly.

It is important to remember that a video could have one life, but this life can be extended!

Beyond Harry Potter

Animation is an amazing way to highlight a great cover. It is a great moment for the author to be able to share something that is not just static and not just text focused.

A cover reveal that is not just static makes a statement on social media, especially because video performs so well on social media.

Something as simple as animating text can perform really well.

Bloomsbury Modern Classics, a list of 10 books, the covers of each designed by a different artist have been animated to bring new life to iconic covers.

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Publishing Interview Tips!

You have reached the interview stage, great news! Now you have to face the dreaded interview. Don’t worry, we have some interview dos and don’ts for you to master your publishing interview, and maybe even enjoy it!

Do

  • Use the job description and person specification to hone in on the skills and competencies they are looking for
  • Practice an interview situation with your friends or family
  • Greet the interviewer with a firm (but not bone breaking!) handshake
  • Take copies of your cv, covering letter and relevant documents with you
  • Dress well; publishing is a creative industry and you can express yourself with your dress whilst looking smart
  • Leave plenty of time to get to your interview; being late will make you feel stressed prior to the interview
  • Keep eye contact, wait for your turn to speak and listen carefully to the questions you are being asked
  • Answer the question and express yourself clearly (practice will help with this)
  • Be honest
  • Ask questions! An interview is also your opportunity to see if the company will be a good fit for you as well as you for them, so prepare some well researched questions in advance
  • Be confident in your skills and abilities, have examples ready which demonstrate your experience in relation to the job requirements
  • Show your enthusiasm! You can also follow up after the interview to thank them for their time

Don’t

  • Dress too casually
  • Complain about your previous role or employer! You want your interview to be a positive experience
  • Lie about your skills or abilities, lies can be detected! You also don’t want to be in a difficult situation if you find yourself unable to do the job
  • Be too hard on yourself if you do not answer a question quite right, instead remain positive and move onto the next. You won’t be judged for making a mistake on one question
  • Bring up salary, holidays and benefits unless your interviewer does
  • Be blunt or too simple in your answers with just a `yes’ or `no’, you are expected to explain where possible, without rambling
  • Talk over your interviewer or finish their sentences for them

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