2018 PPA Independent Publisher Conference & Awards

Kellie and I attended the PPA Independent Publisher Conference & Awards and, as in previous years, it was an informative morning conference to catch up with lots of independent publishers and hear the latest in ideas across the industry.

The morning opened with an introduction from Barry McIlheney, CEO of the PPA before Juan Senor of Innovation Media Consulting/Author of the ‘FIPP Innovation Report’ gave a fascinating talk on the latest in media technology, monetisation ideas and introduced a major theme of the day of moving away from advertising revenue to reader / subscription revenue.

Publishers have discovered giving content away for free is very expensive and doesn’t work in the long term – we must start charging for digital content, creating pay walls and data walls with reader revenue generating c. 40% of digital revenue. It’s predicted that by the end of 2020 people will have 4 subscriptions so this should be viable. Editors will need to come up with great content that will trigger a subscription that’s worth paying for.

Some ideas:

  1. If you give people a binary choice they reject both – give them a choice of 3 and the human mind will pick 1!
  2. Use the rule of 3 for subscription options – people will pick the one in the middle.
  3. Rise of the idea of the publisher as a club eg the Guardian
  4. Events – margins can be low for an event so the trend is making it a festival of 2-3 days

He has a list of 11 business models that he recommends developing at least 3 of – do ask for his slides!

Ian McAuliffe of Think Publishing moderated a discussion on positioning your business for the future which gave insights from some very different types of publishers – presentations available:
Nick Flood, Dennis Publishing [Download Nick’s presentation]
Patrick Napier, Rock Sound [Download Patrick’s presentation]
Rebecca Allen, The Drum [Download Rebecca’s presentation]

Richard Spilsbury not only gave us a quiz which was a great way of bonding with other delegates but insight for publishers thinking of selling their business at some point – what to consider and some pitfalls to avoid.

The keynote speaker Catrin Griffiths, Editor, The Lawyer spoke honestly and inspiringly about her experience leading a prestigious brand through change. She explained the highs and lows of the journey of introducing paywalls, integrating content and data, and creating a market-leading brand.

Roundtable sessions were a good opportunity to share industry knowledge with peers and Kellie and I focussed on the people based ones: Talent Retention and Organisational Culture.

 

David Gilbey finished up with some more tips and highlights in his masterclass in digital publishing – again I’d highly recommend reviewing the presentation slides for ideas…

Then we had the awards, where Kellie was delighted to present the Editor of the year award to Sophie Griffiths from TTG Media! See the list of winners here 

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ALPSP Conference 2018

Atwood Tate is a long-term member of the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) and were delighted to attend their conference 12 – 14 September 2018.  This conference plays a key role in scholarly publishing, and it attracted a high-level audience from all sectors including publishing people from academic, professional and STM publishing.  This conference provides an opportunity to share information and knowledge, learn about new initiatives, as well as engage in open discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing publishing.

 

I spent a day at the ALPSP conference and attended a number of fruitful talks, including Evolution of Peer Review, Industry Updates, Openness & Transparency in Scholarly Publishing and What’s New in the Digital Humanities.  The talks were very informative, and it also strengthens my knowledge in the field.  In particular, I enjoyed the talk by The Charlesworth Group where the speaker Jean Dawson talked about how scholarly publishers can use their service and promotes their works via WeChat to the Chinese audience.  Ann Michael from Delta Think made an interesting point on how data is never perfect so we need to build skills and team to fill the gaps.

Other than talks and seminars, there was also charity run in aids of FODAD, a small UK registered charity providing support to those in Sri Lanka, conference dinner and after-dinner quiz. Featuring a wide-ranging programme, this is a must-attend event for everyone involved in the scholarly publishing community.

If you weren’t able to attend, there are a number of resources and presentations available to view and listen to here: https://www.alpsp.org/2018-Programme

Video footage of all plenary sessions is also available on the ALPSP YouTube page.

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Atwood Tate Book Club: Halloween

 

Have you ever wondered what a team of publishing recruitment specialists like to read in their down time? Curious about our favourite books growing up? Welcome to the Atwood Tate Book Club, where we reveal what books have a special place on our shelves! For this entry, we peek under the bed and around darkened corners with our favourite Halloween appropriate reads.

Anna Slevin, Temps & Freelancers Administrator

Gentleman & Players by Joanne Harris .

Psychological thriller that really ramps up the tension in an all-boys school, written by a former teacher (of Chocolat fame) with two narrators and two time periods as a former tragedy comes back to haunt the school… Honestly one of the most disconcerting reads as hindsight and ignorance confuse the reader as the disturbing mystery plays out.

The Stuff of Nightmares by Malorie Blackman

Short stories that show schoolchild nightmares that ultimately reach a conclusion as the reality of a train crash hits home. Memorable a decade later! Dreamscapes are the perfect landscape for awful situations with terrible images that stay with you…

Charlotte Tope, Publishing Recruitment Consultant

The Virago Book of Ghost Stories volume ll

 

It’s not in print anymore so you’ll have to do a bit of searching to get a second hand copy, but a collection of haunting tales all written by women. I recommend Black Dog Penelope Lively. You’re going to have to read in-between the lines for this one!!

 

Faye Jones, Publishing Recruitment Consultant

The Woman in Black  by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black was the first horror book that I read after finishing school, and even though I couldn’t put it down I wanted to because it was so scary! I only read it at night time which was probably a bad idea and when the film came out I convinced my friends to try reading it before watching it in the Cinema. If you’re looking for a chilling read I would recommend the Woman in Black.

 

 

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Industry Spotlight: STM Publishing

Welcome to Atwood Tate’s industry spotlight series, where we go behind the scenes of each of our recruitment desks to give you the scoop on working with Atwood Tate. This week Clare returns, focusing on roles in STM publishingSTM word cloud

 

What does ‘STM’ means in publishing?

STM publishing refers to scholarly, Scientific, Technical, Medical and professional publishers.  In Atwood Tate, we work with a wide range of publishers from academic and scientific publishers, learned societies, open-access publishers and professional bodies to reach out to publishing professionals.  The content is often journals or books based, for journals, there are open-access journals and subscription journals.

What will be the academic requirement?

The majority of roles we work on require a scientific degree.  It is not often that a Master’s or PhD is required but for senior editorial positions, especially working on a particular scientific subject, it is likely that a specific academic background will be needed. However, for roles that are more operational or with a strategic focus, companies might be more flexible on educational background.  Some candidates have, for example, an English degree who now work in a managerial STM publishing role so never say never!

What roles do we work on within STM publishing?

We work on roles from junior to senior level.  From Editorial or Publication Assistant, to middleweight Production Editor or Commissioning Editor; senior level Managing Editor or Publishing Operations Manager and so on.  STM publishing is a big area and it is full of potential to transfer your expertise.

Is there good progression in STM Publishing?

STM publishing is fast growing and blooming quickly so there will definitely be good progression.  Through working with different portfolio of journals and academia, you will grow your network and gain a wider knowledge of STM publishing.  Currently, a lot of STM publishers are expanding and restructuring so there are definitely opportunities to grow your career in the field.

If you are looking for a job in STM Publishing, get in touch with Clare at clarechan@atwoodtate.co.uk.

Atwood Tate is a member of ALPSP (The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers).

Keep an eye out for ScholarlySocial @ScholarlySocial which has networking meetings.

 

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BookMachine: Talking Tech

Anna Slevin our Temps Administrator attended the BookMachine “Talking Tech” event a few weeks ago and after Ada Lovelace Day recently celebrating the first computer programmer* we thought we’d let you know about the “manifesto” they discussed. We need Tech skills in publishing today!

As discussed by an all-female panel: led by the chair Emma Barnes (Founder & CEO, Bibliocloud and MD, Snowbooks), Sara O’Connor (Full Stack Developer, Bibliocloud), Lola Odelola (Software Engineer and Founder of blackgirl.tech) and Janneke Niessen (Entrepreneur, Investor, Boardmember, Inspiring Fifty, Project Prep). Anna, our Administrator tells us more.

Anna

All of the speakers were genuinely passionate and clearly knew what they were talking about but none of them were afraid to admit that when they don’t know the answer they turn to Google or the community. (It turns out that the tech community are often very helpful and generally prioritise make something work and finding the answer, most things are open source.)

A lot of the information is free and readily available on websites like Learn Enough it’s just a case of working through it and understanding what you’ve read. Which is the part most of us struggle with! You may have heard of things like C++ or Python and thought it sounds like a foreign language and it turns out it is!

Ruby

Which brings me to Ruby. Like Dorothy’s ruby shoes** prove there’s no place like home and Ruby is fun mainly because it is an object based language you can use to code. It feels more familiar (and homely) like a typical word-based language and once you start to see the output you’re already a programmer!

If you are a woman interested in trying for yourself with a bit of help, they publicised the next free Rails Girls London event: https://railsgirls.london/#events – you might even see some of us from Atwood Tate there! (Applications close in one month.)

Sara, Lola, Janneke and Emma

The panel (and chair) all talked about their own experiences in tech and why it’s important to publishing and society in general.

The key concerns raised time and again were:

Empathy. Accessibility. Diversity.

A lack of women in tech roles was partially why they were speaking at all but Lola raised issues around a lack of diversity across tech teams. Much like architects sometimes forget to consider spaces for wheelchairs or prams, the tech industry similarly sometimes can’t anticipate an issue until a product is rolled out to the public such as Lola’s observation about the photo tagging incident with an app a few years ago.

Resources/Opportunities mentioned:

Anyone can code.

Even a man with little or no sight hired by Janneke.

Even Sara who as originally in Editorial and is now a Full Stack Developer (which I asked her about and means she does the part people see and the back end stuff that makes it function).

Even that SUM formula on Excel pretty much counts as programming. Programming in publishing could save you a lot of time on those repetitive tasks… Give it a try!

 

*incidentally the daughter of Lord Byron (it’s all connected to publishing!)

**disclaimer: working in publishing, we know the shoes are silver in the books!

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Administrator in the Hot Seat: Anna Slevin

If you could write ‘THE book’ on something, the definitive how-to guide on any subject, which topic would you choose?

This is also my one true fact to share but I wrote 6,000 words about cinnamon instead of a dissertation for my degree! It wasn’t definitive so I’d quite like to go back and do that someday. (It was a choice between cinnamon or coffee at the time but I didn’t want to end up hating coffee!)

What three books changed your life?

First Test by Tamora Pierce

Where a girl didn’t have to pretend to be a boy to do what she wanted! (Tamora Pierce started in the eighties and is having a revival at the moment) It didn’t so much change my life as shape it from the start because my mum read it to me when I was about six I think.

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell

(Slightly cheating I know but I only picked it up because it was so thick!) This autobiography melded fact and storytelling the point where I went off and wrote about cinnamon and studied Creative Nonfiction later. It’s been adapted into several television productions each different from the last. It showed me that real life can be as interesting as fiction and imagination can be applied to everything. Even slugs.

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

I often give people the impression that I only read longer books or sprawling series, this isn’t entirely true because of this book. The amount of foreign literature in translation on British shelves is minimal – this is criminal. Kitchen is two novellas by a Japanese author that were somehow mainstream enough to be in English at my local library. Novellas are often underrated or undervalued, unfortunately they cost almost the same as much lengthier paperbacks. But some stories should be a certain length. Some stories need a certain style, a certain pace. Some stories are specific and individual and particular. But resonate. I now actively look for shorter fiction and translations.

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?

 Walking between worlds. It’s something of a theme in Diana Wynne Jones from her nine-lived enchanters with the title Chrestomanci to Howl of the Moving Castle fame (the film is very different! In the book he’s actually Howell Jenkins from Wales in our world) and in Homeward Bounders while in The Merlin Conspiracy there is confusion with multiple Earths…

The way it can mean so many different things even to one author strikes me as something special. It normally makes the character appreciate the world they come from or find one they prefer! I like the idea of seeing how different societies function and being able to choose for myself, much like a good book…

Bonus Question

Who would you invite (and why) to your fantasy literary dinner party?

There’s a saying: “never meet your heroes” and a lot of the best characters can be very obnoxious… I’m actually reading The Immortal Dinner at the moment with Keats and Wordsworth in appearance but Wordsworth sounds like a very difficult guest at times!

Do you invite characters or authors? What would they eat? Does Bob Dylan count, having won the Nobel Prize? If this is a fantasy literary dinner party I would invite my dad and Bob Dylan to talk to each other because my dad would love that, and William Morris; I would invite my mum and Margaret Drabble because she introduced me to her, and Eric Hobsbawm; and I would quietly slip out the back door and ask my parents about it later as an after-party. I don’t know who would be making the food. My parents introduced me to literature for which I can never thank them enough so I think I’d rather they get the opportunity and I know I would have no regrets, facilitation being the better part of valour.

 

 

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Society of Scholarly Publishing: Fact vs Fake News

The Society for Scholarly Publishing held their regional event in late September at Springer Nature’s Macmillan Campus. With a panel of publishers, journalists, researchers and tech professionals discussing Fact vs Fake News: Who decides what’s true? Anna and Clare went along to hear more. Here is what Anna took away from the discussion:

The Market in Data

In the UK on average we spend 4 hours a day online on a desktop and 1 hour 47 minutes online on our phones (2017). Every moment of that we are producing data which becomes a product. The consumer becomes the product to enhance marketing campaigns and to pinpoint a susceptible audience to target. All of the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook targeting political campaigns at specific users…

Fake news is about persuasion. What to agree with. Variations of an ad will appeal to different people because of their personal bias. Star vs Circle? You are more likely to listen to one than the other.

What makes a fact?

  • Access to the source
  • Expertise
    • Analysis + Interpretation of information -> Explanation to be understood

Challenges to “facts” today?

  • Readability for money
  • Comment and opinion pieces are rising in number
  • Appeal to emotion rather than figures/numbers
  • The incentive is to be read as with “click-bait” to generate income
  • The monopoly of ownership
  • False balance
    • Example: the BBC disproportionately giving voices in debate
    • Lack of diversity in voices writing/speaking
  • Disenfranchisement and lack of knowledge

Technological Solutions?

Annotation Software
  • This uses layers to allow multiple experts to make notes at different levels, separately from the editors but in real time.
  • Collaborators can see what is going on and there is transparency

This can happen before or after publication.

The Credibility Coalition want to create standards (a toolset of questions to give ratings) the appropriateness and accuracy of online content.

Credibility scoring articles are now being published for the public to view, for instance regarding climate change.

Content Assessment

Community-driven start-ups are looking at algorithms, aiming to create higher quality content. These can find whether it is true or false but experts are needed to label content. Classification then improves the algorithms in the “grey areas”.

Nuance is the tricky point!

Problems

  • Data literacy is poor
  • Data claims to know you better than you know yourself, matching you to content…
    • What you can do: understand what processes look like and where your data is going.

Students can’t evaluate sources or different viewpoints constructively – more empathy is needed

Steps Going Forwards

Make the community bias visible.

  • We choose our media. Choose more than one.
  • Diversify perspectives. Have more than one viewpoint.
  • Democratise expertise

New technology allows gutter journalism which we have always had to be “published” wider than ever but accessibility and agency do fight fake news.

Why should businesses care?

  • Reputations are at stake when advertising platforms are discredited.
  • When disenfranchisement grows, the consumers change.

Why should you care?

  • You deserve better than fake news!

Moderator: 
David Bull, Vice President for Business, Economics, Political Science & Law publishing at Springer Nature, the world renowned academic publisher

Panelists:
Michael Parker, Membership Editor at The Conversation UK
Jennifer PybusLecturer in Digital Culture and Society at KCL and contributing author to the new book “Trump Media War
Lusiné Mehrabyan, Community Manager at FactMata
Heather Staines, Director, Partnerships at Hypothes.is

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Oxford Publishing Society: 21st Century Publishing Careers

On Thursday we attended the OPuS Event Careers in 21st century publishing at Oxford Brookes University. The event featured three speakers from a wide range of companies who talked through their own specific work experience path. The event aimed to answer questions on the ease of progressing and moving around in publishing, what key elements are needed to build your career and the possibility of finding success outside traditional publishing companies.

Faye & Alison and Oxford Publishing Society

 

Ian Campsall, Product Manager for The Science Direct Article Page at Elsevier

Ian completed the Oxford Brookes MA as he wanted to change careers. He completed an internship at John Wiley and then applied for the position of Digital Publishing Executive at Wiley, he then moved into product management for mobile platforms. He is now Product Management for Elsevier working on The Science Direct Article page.

Aaron O’Dowling-Keane, Sales and Marketing Manager at Sherlock: The Game is Now

Aaron also studied the MA in Publishing at Oxford Brookes and completed internships at OUP and the International Labour Office in Geneva. Her first role in publishing was for a small African Publisher in Oxford, she then moved away from publishing into crowdfunding, then story led interactive games and is now a Sales and Marketing Manager for a Sherlock themed escape room.

Saskia Watts, Marketing Specialist, VitalSource (Ingram)

After completing her MA in Publishing at Oxford Brookes, Saskia worked for Lightening Source as a marketing coordinator and she is now a marketing specialist for Ingram Vital Source.

Here are some interesting tips from the evening:
• Take risks
• Technology is everything and digital skills are important
• Organisation is key
• Talk to your company about career development opportunities
• Soft skills are vital
• Feedback is a good thing, use constructive feedback to improve
• Recognise that publishing is all about collaboration
• Take Risks, if the role does not suit you and you are not happy move on
• Be curious and talk to everyone, get to know people from different places
• Try everything and do everything, volunteer at university events, join societies like OPuS, SYP
• Create the role that you want
• Adapt and be flexible and keep learning

Useful links:
Oxford Publishing Society, OPuS: http://oxfordpublishingsociety.org/
SYP (Society of Young Publishers): https://thesyp.org.uk/

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B2B Job Focus: Market Reporters

Do you remember our article about B2B reporters? Today we will look at a specific category of journalists: Market Reporters!

Market Reporters

Market reporters (or Pricing/Price Reporters) are journalists with distinct duties. They assess commodities prices and write market commentaries and news on specific markets.

Commodities are substances or products that can be traded. Single commodities markets include metals (gold, zinc, steel), energy (fuel oil, natural gas) or agriculture (rice, wheat, corn).

Market reporters talk to trader and investors to establish a list of prices, either on a daily or weekly basis. They also need to develop solid relationship with commodity analysts, forecasters, financial planners and company CEOs and expand and maintain this network.

Investors rely on market reporters for information about what to buy, sell or hold. As their analysis has an impact on the stock market, these journalists can be influential. They need a great deal of diplomacy as well as resilience and communication skills.

Typical duties

Market reporters are expected to:

  • Develop an expertise of their industry, build strong contacts within it and attend relevant conferences, meeting and events
  • Assess prices and write commentaries and news about the industry
  • Interview professionals and travel when required to attend meetings
  • Keep up to date and report on foreign markets
  • Have a good head for numbers and be meticulous with the data they collect

Background

Our clients are open to graduates with the following degrees:

  • Journalism
  • Finance
  • Business
  • Economics.

Of course, employers will expect you to have excellent writing and numerical skills. For senior positions, a relevant track record in the industry is necessary.

This article was the last of our series on B2B Job Focus, we hope you enjoyed it!

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BIC’s New Trends in Publishing Seminar

How can Technology Improve the Efficiency of the Publishing Industry?

I attended a BIC (Book Industry’s Supply Chain Org) seminar early September to hear from industry experts about the opportunities and challenges facing the publishing industry.  With six professional speakers, the seminar covered how artificial intelligence, immersive products, audio books and other technology help to improve the efficiency in the book industry. It was fascinating to see how AI can help sales and marketing, acquisitions and a broad range of functions within publishing and librarians putting together course lists and helping to make collections decisions.  As simple as searching a keyword say “neuroscience”, you can see the road map of its semantic distribution.

In a quasi classroom setting, the seminar discussed how virtual reality and augmented reality content is adopted in the education and training sector. The speaker gave an example of a module in healthcare studies where students use virtual reality technology to complete the module assessment.  Not only did this increase the assessment completion rate, but it also allowed lecturers to analyse the data on the students’ performance or identify common errors. Data and technology have played a significant role in the publishing industry in the past century, a role that will continue to evolve and refine as we explore new opportunities. I look forward to attending the next seminars and seeing what’s around the corner for the industry!

 

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