Literary Prizes: a win for quality literature? With BookMachine and the TLS

Many thanks to Anna Slevin, our Temps Administrator, for this blog.

This week Atwood Tate went to the BookMachine event where the TLS hosted a panel discussing the nature of literary prizes. It was a real eye-opener as the panel were perfectly frank and honest in their capacity as judges for various prizes. An interesting one to perhaps keep in mind is Encore as they judge second novels and recognise that an author has continued in their chosen career and awards the winner £10k in recognition of their success, regardless of the fate of their first novel.

In contrast, another prize being awarded this year is for books of Jewish interest judged from across all genres be it memoir or fiction, history or comedy. Some of which were proposed and of no interest which made shortlisting somewhat simpler. Apparently the decision making was quite sedate and devoid of drama. (On a side note, you do not want an actor or actress like Joanna Lumley to preside over the judging panel, instead you want a politician like Michael Portillo because they will tell people when to speak and when to make a decision and when to go home which makes the process much smoother – Please note, these were the opinions of two panellists!)

The Cost of Gold

The general feeling was that most literary prizes are less about individual achievement of the author (compared to say, an athlete in the Olympics) than promotion of the product or the publisher. The sheer cost of marketing and the need for a ready print-run should you be short-listed for the Booker Prize can be crippling for smaller publishing houses which can result in less diversity at the submission stage for which the ultimate long- and shortlists can be criticised for. An audience member admitted to having won a prize and following the subsequent uplift, created their own literary prize to be awarded to other authors. At which point the nature of literary prizes seems to become an industry perpetuation and hype the public can glimpse but rarely buy into. It was observed that over the last century, the number of literary prizes on offer in the UK has grown to similar proportions of those in Europe; an odd trend given that historically the greater volume of competitions was considered vulgar by the British public.

The Question of Self-Publishing

An interesting question from the floor asked whether there will be a time when self-published books are judged alongside trade publications and the panellists were in unequivocal agreement that it was only a matter of time. The quality is not the issue. Only the volume. Who would do all of the reading? Who indeed.


When did you last read a prize-winning book?

…and did you agree it was worth the award?

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International Women’s Day – Inspirational Female Writers

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, we have collected some of our favourite inspirational quotes from female writers. There were too many to include all of them, so let us know in the comments what your favourite is that we’ve missed!

‘You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.’
― Maya Angelou, Still I Rise

‘I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.’
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.’
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

‘No black woman writer in this culture can write “too much”. Indeed, no woman writer can write “too much”…No woman has ever written enough.’
― bell hooks, remembered rapture: the writer at work

‘I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.’
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

‘Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.’
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

‘There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.’
― Arundhati Roy

‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’
― Audre Lorde

‘We were scared, but our fear was not as strong as our courage.’
― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

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Team update: Welcome to the team, Anna!

We are delighted to announce we have a new Temps and Freelancers Administrator, Anna Slevin! She will be providing administrative support to Alison Redfearn and Kellie Miller in our London office.

Anna Slevin

Anna entered the publishing and recruitment worlds by temping (some of those roles gained through Atwood Tate!) after finishing her broad English and American Literature degree. Instead of completing a dissertation at university, Anna opted for the more unusual opportunity to write 6000 words of creative non-fiction about cinnamon and she has continued to think outside the box ever since. Passionate about food, theatre and stories in general, she is happy to help with most things. She joined Atwood Tate in February 2018 as the Temps and Freelancers Administrator in the London office.

0203 574 4427

See our Meet the Team page for more information and contact details for all our consultants.

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Byte the Book | Buzz Words: How Can You Build a Community Around Your Content

Last night I attended Byte the Book’s event on marketing and building a community around your content, sponsored by Bookswarm. As Atwood Tate’s Social Media Coordinator, I found the talk from industry leaders and influencers really interesting.

We gathered in the chapel at the House of St Barnabas (a not-for-profit private members’ club working against homelessness), which was a beautiful if unconventional venue. The wine I’d bought not long before had to be quickly finished off as we couldn’t bring alcohol into the chapel. As I sat on a hard wooden pew, I drafted a tweet with an image of the chapel, which I immediately had to delete upon being told the crucifix hanging over the alter was in fact copyrighted.

the chapel and full audience waiting for the discussion to begin

The chapel sans crucifix

At any other panel talk, the audience being glued to their phones throughout would be considered rude. At a digital marketing discussion, it’s encouraged, with live updates from the #BytetheBook hashtag projected on to the screen behind the speakers.

Digital Marketing Tips from the Panellists

Lysanne Currie, a journalist and digital strategist, chaired the discussion. She began by asking Laura Lindsay, Director of Global Communications at Lonely Planet, about the community of travellers Lonely Planet has built online and offline. Lindsay recounts how Lonely Planet started its online community in the 1990s by sharing letters from their readers. They were one of the first brands on Twitter, and built their following by sharing content from their community of travellers, not just sharing marketing materials. Building an online community, she says, is no different to building a ‘real world’ community.

Children’s author Piers Torday notes the barriers to connecting directly with readers online when those readers are children, so he embeds himself in distinct communities of parents, librarians and teachers. These are the gatekeepers and the people who buy children’s books. He also discusses the differences between content on different platforms. Twitter, he says, is great for conversations. Instagram is best for curated storytelling.

Leena Normington, YouTuber and Social Media Producer at Vintage Books, advises the audience to choose what platform(s) work for you, and not worry about using every platform. She notes the different demographics engaging with different media – for example podcasts tend to have a slightly older and more male audience than YouTube videos. She also emphasises treating your online audience as real people, not only as viewers or subscribers.

The panellists agree that the key to a great social media presence is to be consistent and to be genuine. Have a schedule for uploading content and show who you are as a person, rather than just marketing your book. Try new things and experiment, see what works for you and it’s okay to stop if it’s not working.

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Team update: Welcome to the team, Clare!

We’re delighted to welcome our new Recruitment Consultant, Clare Chan! She is joining our London office, where she will be working on Editorial (STM) vacancies and roles in Production, Production Editorial, Design, Distribution and Operations positions across publishing sectors (excluding B2B) in London, East Anglia and the Home Counties.

Clare Chan

Clare started her publishing career in Hong Kong where she managed an independent art book publishing house and gained experience in design, editorial and print production.  Moving to London, she continued her publishing career specialising in Sales and Marketing at Black Dog Publishing and Artifice books on architecture.  Clare has worked in a variety of positions in publishing and has developed a great knowledge of the industry.  She enjoys swimming and going to art exhibitions (especially photography arts!) She joined Atwood Tate in February 2018 as a Publishing Recruitment Consultant, and works on Editorial roles in STM publishing and vacancies in Production, Production Editorial, Design, Distribution, and Operations positions across all publishing sectors (excluding B2B) in London, East Anglia and the Home Counties.

0203 574 4428

See our Meet the Team page for more information and contact details for all our consultants.

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LGBT History Month in Books and Publishing

February is LGBT History Month in the UK, a month to remember the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people throughout history and to raise awareness of the current position of LGBT people in society. We thought this would be a good time to reflect on and celebrate LGBT authors and those working in publishing.

LGBT booksDetail of the portrait of a young woman (so-called Sappho) with writing pen and wax tablets

I am a big fan of LGBT literature, with my dissertation at university being about the influence of Sappho on twentieth century female poets – Anne Carson, with her beautiful translations of Sappho’s fragments; Amy Lowell, chronically overshadowed by her relative Robert; Olga Broumas and her collaborations with Jane Miller and T. Begley, celebrations of female love and desire.

Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Patrick Ness, Sarah Waters, Rita Mae Brown, Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith… LGBT writers and texts have helped shape literary history, though many are forgotten, or their sexuality hidden. Many chose not to write explicitly about their sexualities, due to censorship. Today we obviously do not censor LGBT literature, though barriers remain to getting published. Books featuring LGBT characters may be considered more niche and therefore not chosen for publication. As a result, LGBT authors and characters are underrepresented on our bookshelves.

What’s changing in the publishing industry?

Publishers are trying to change this and diversify their lists. Penguin Random House launched Write Now in 2016, a programme for un-agented writers from communities underrepresented in publishing. This includes those from BAME and LGBT+ communities. Selected writers are invited to insight days and ten are selected for a year-long mentoring programme, with the aim to then publishing these writers.

Little Tiger announced today that they will be publishing a short-story anthology for young adults written by LGBT+ authors. They are now accepting submissions for PROUD from unpublished and un-agented LGBT+ writers.

Last year, Pride in Publishing launched as a network for anyone who identifies as LGBT+ working in the UK publishing industry. They hold bimonthly networking events and committee meetings which all members are welcome to attend.

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Best Book and Publishing-Related Podcasts

When I’m not listening to an audiobook on my way to work, I love listening to podcasts – especially ones about books and publishing! It’s no secret that the audio sector is growing, whether through audiobook services like Audible, Kobo or Google Play, or through the rise of podcasts. Here are a few of my favourite book and publishing-related listens:

1)    Mostly Lit

A weekly books and pop-culture podcast from Alex Reads, Rai, and Derek Owusu. Aimed at a millennial audience, this is a fun and accessible podcast that promotes reading as something for everyone to enjoy. It makes reading cool again, discussing books alongside films and TV.

You can find them on Twitter @MostlyLit

2)    Minorities in Publishing

This publishing industry podcast from Jenn Baker interviews publishing professionals as well as authors and others related to the industry about diversity (or the lack thereof) in book publishing.

You can find them here:

3)    BBC Radio 4 Books and Authors

BBC Radio 4 hosts a number of high quality book podcasts, which include interviews with high-profile authors and public figures. It tends to focus on more literary fiction. Harriett Gilbert hosts A Good Read, where she discusses people’s favourite books. Recent episodes feature Ruby Tandoh, Nicola Sturgeon, and Stephen Fry. Also see Radio 4’s other podcasts – Bookclub and Short Story in particular are worth a listen.

Download Books and Authors here:

4)    Guardian Books

Similar in tone to the Radio 4 podcasts, the Guardian’s version is a weekly show hosted by Claire Armistead, Richard Lea, and Sian Cain with interviews and discussions about latest book trends and themes. Recent episodes cover LGBT must-reads and Helen Dunmore’s posthumous Costa prize.

Find all episodes here:

5)    Time Literary Supplement – Freedom, Books, Flowers & the Moon

This weekly podcast from the TLS takes its name from the Oscar Wilde quotation, ‘With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?’ Stig Abell, Thea Lenarduzzi and Lucy Dallas are joined by special guests and discuss articles from the week’s edition of the magazine, covering literature and related topics, including politics, culture, language and history.

All episodes are on their website and can be found here:

6)    Book Riot

Book Riot is well worth a listen for their accessible discussions of book-related news. There is a notable American bias, but any global publisher today will want to keep up with what’s happening in the book world over the pond.

Find it on the Book Riot website (and while you’re there, it’s also worth taking a look at the other content on there!):

Let us know in the comments or on social media what you’ve been listening to recently!

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The Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is something that affects a huge number of women in the UK and across most industries, including publishing. It is an issue that’s close to my heart, firstly being a woman and secondly working in recruitment and placing men and women into jobs. I’d like to hope we’re all doing more to address the gap and make this a fairer industry to be working in.

Gender Pay Gap and the Law

As members of the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation), we are aware of the latest news and legal requirements in recruitment. There is new leglislation coming up where employers with more than 250 employees will need to report on gender pay gaps. The deadline is 4 April for private organisations and 30 March for public sector employers. Many employers have already started to file their data on the dedicated government website.

The Government’s Gender Pay Gap Campaign website is a good resource for employers, giving information about how to collect and report data on the issue and how to close the gap. The following infographic gives the benefits of gender diversity in the workforce.

Employer benefits: improves brand reputation, attracts an improved pool of talent, higher staff retention, boosts staff productivity, meets the diverse needs of customers

Source: Gender Pay Gap Campaign

The Gender Pay Gap in Publishing – Advertising Salaries

Publishing has historically not been transparent with disclosing salaries – likely for a number of reasons and not all of them negative. This might not be a popular view but I really feel the industry would be much healthier with full transparency where all jobs are advertised with a salary range that is based on skills and experience.

In the UK, we shy away from talking about how much we earn. This is part of the reason employers choose not to advertise salaries on their vacancies, as employees in the same or similar roles may not want their own salary to be made public. It’s a taboo to ask ‘How much do you earn?’ But without open discussion, we cannot know what we are worth and so women’s value can be underestimated, by themselves as well as by their employer.

We’ve written before about advertising salaries here. We regret that we usually cannot display salaries on our vacancies, although we always give candidates the salary information before they submit an application.

The gender pay gap is slowly narrowing, though we still have a way to go. What do you think publishers and recruiters can do to close the gap further?

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Is a Publishing MA right for me?

A Publishing MA can be a big boost to your CV, due to the technical and theoretical knowledge it can give you, as well as the practical work experience you will gain. It is by no means a prerequisite for a job in publishing, but it can help when you enter an over-saturated job market. However, it’s not for everyone and lots of people get into the industry via other means, such as internships and work experience. Before you apply, you should consider whether the course is right for you.

What universities offer a Publishing MA course?

Some universities which offer the course include:

Things to consider


Fees vary between universities, but are usually around £6,000-£10,000. You will also need to fund living expenses. UK postgraduate students can apply for a loan of up to £10,280 (, and there are various bursaries available. See the websites of individual courses for more information about the financial support they can offer.

You may want to work part-time during your MA; however, if your course includes full-time work experience placements as well as studying, then consider whether you will have time to work alongside it.

What does the course cover?

What sectors of the publishing industry does the course look at – trade? Academic? STM? And what job roles/departments will you learn about – editorial? Production? Marketing?

If you are not 100% sure which area you want to go into, a Publishing MA can be a great way of finding our more information about areas you may not have previously considered. Then you can make an informed decision about your future career path rather than going in blind.

Links to publishing houses

What publishing houses does the course have links with? Ask where previous students have done placements and consider whether these are the types of companies you want to work for. Work placements and contacts at top companies are one of the most valuable components of publishing courses.

Other things to think about

  • Are you the kind of person who likes working in an academic environment? Are you prepared for the exams and/or dissertation or would you rather gain your skills on the job?
  • Will this help you get a foot in the door or increase your future earning potential?
  • Have you already done some work experience in the publishing industry? This can help you make sure this is the right career for you – before you spend any money.

For more information about getting into publishing, please see our Work Experience and Entry-Level Resources page.

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Bett Show 2018

Last week Claire, Christina and Alison attended The Bett Show at London’s Excel centre. This annual trade show is the world’s largest edtech fair, featuring over 850 companies, and over 34,000 attendees. It’s an opportunity for people from the education sector to get together and see the latest innovation in technology /attend seminars and generally be inspired and share ideas. For us at Atwood Tate, it was a good opportunity to say hello to our clients in the education and keep abreast of any changes in the industry.


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