Author Archives: Sam

Ella Kahn

Ella co-founded the Diamond Kahn & Woods Literary Agency with Bryony Woods in 2012. DKW is a dynamic and reactive boutique literary agency providing a personal and professional management service to authors of outstanding fiction and non-fiction. Previously, Ella worked at Andrew Nurnberg Associates for three years. She has an MA in Publishing from University College London and a BA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic from the University of Cambridge. She was Chair of the Society of Young Publishers in 2011 and has also volunteered as the SYP’s Treasurer and Events Officer. She became a Freeman of the Stationers’ Company in 2012.

Ella is actively building her client list at DKW and would love to hear from authors of commercial/literary fiction for both adults and young adults. She enjoys working editorially with authors who are bursting with energy and ideas. She has a particular interest in historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction; above all, she’s looking for high-concept, plot-driven books with exceptional voice, engaging characters and intriguing settings that will take her to new, richly imagined worlds, unusual times and far-flung places.

Ella is passionate about her work for the Society of Young Publishers, which aims to provide advice, enthusiasm, and networking opportunities for anyone trying to break into a career in the publishing industry or progress within it.  They run monthly speaker meetings and social events, including seminars on careers in publishing at the London Book Fair and a charity pub quiz; an annual conference addressing topical issues; and publish a quarterly magazine called InPrint with a wealth of articles on publishing topics. Their website is soon to be relaunched in a shiny new incarnation, with more information than ever before about SYP events not only in London, but also Edinburgh, Oxford and Leeds, a blog, a careers guide, job and internship adverts, and lots more.

1. As the publishing industry is evolving what challenges have you come across in terms of your strategy as a new literary agency?

I wouldn’t say we’ve come across challenges so much as opportunities! At a time when a lot of the big mega-agencies (and publishers!) seem to be merging, there seems to be a counter-trend of agents breaking off to set up on their own, and we certainly saw lots of advantages in doing this. Being small and new, we can provide a truly bespoke service to our clients, as we can be much more nimble, creative, flexible and dynamic in the way that we operate than is perhaps possible in a bigger, more corporate agency. Publishing is a very relationships-based industry, so creating a very personal company brand was important for us – Bryony and I are the agency, and we want this to come across to both publishers and authors.

2. Do you hunt for new writers using social media and/or blogging?

Yes, in a way – another advantage of the way the publishing industry has evolved is the opportunity provided by social networking. Twitter is an extremely important tool for us – it allows us to reach a much wider audience to share what we’re doing and what we’re looking for, and I don’t think we would have created such a buzz on our launch day without it. It really helps our discoverability – I’ve noticed a lot of the authors submitting to us (and we received a good 200 submissions in week one between us) are also following us on twitter. So it’s more that we try and make it as easy as possible for authors to find us through social media than that we actively search for writers using social media. We will look at potential clients’ social media/web presence though, so it’s important to appear professional!

3. What are the advantages of working with a literary agency given that there are now structures in place for self-publishing?

Many! But to put it succinctly – having an agent allows an author to focus on their job – which should be to write. The big self-publishing successes get a lot of headlines, but are really still very rare – and you have to put a lot of energy into marketing your books to make them a success. Nothing gives you more likelihood of success than having the financial and creative backing of a major publishing house, with their expertise in design, marketing, production, publicity and sales – not to mention the still-crucial and rigorous editing process, and their far-superior distribution. And an agent is still the best way to get your work in front of a mainstream publisher – they will fight for you every step of the way to the bookshops and beyond, making sure your contracts are as tight as possible, that your work is exploited in as many different ways and territories as possible, advising you on the best way to develop your career, making sure you get paid on time – so you can sit back and indulge your talent for words!

4. If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

It’s just over 5 years ago that I joined the Society of Young Publishers as an undergraduate, and that’s definitely the best thing I could have done at the time – I got my first internship in publishing through the SYP and I learnt so much through their events and the people I met – it really opened my eyes about the opportunities available in the publishing industry – that a career such as being a literary agent even existed! – and it opened doors to help me make that possibility a reality. So my advice to myself (or anyone else in a similar situation!) would be to keep renewing my SYP membership and take advantage of everything they have to offer!

5. How much time do you spend reading per day?

Probably at least two hours, on average, but often more – it’s a massive perk of the job! I’ve had some really exciting submissions in the first few weeks since DKW launched, and my clients are working on some fabulous projects, so keeping on top of it all requires at least a full day reading and editing a week at the moment. Any travelling or commuting time between meetings automatically becomes reading time – I don’t go anywhere without my e-reader loaded up with manuscripts. And I like to try and make time to keep up some ‘leisure’ reading too, as it’s important to know what’s out there on the market and to keep my reading brain fresh by simply reading for pleasure – after all, the joy of being absorbed in a good book is why I do what I do in the first place.

6. Lastly what advice would you give to any new aspiring writer?

Be professional and do your research. It’s easier than ever before for authors to find a multitude of informative websites, blogs and books about how publishing works, how to get published, and how to find an agent – so there’s really no excuse for shoddy and unprofessional approaches. Remember an agent – and indeed an editor – is someone you will have to have a very close personal relationship with, so be targeted in who you approach to find the right fit. Make sure your online persona is friendly and approachable, so that we can get a sense of your personality, but keep it professional.

Keep writing. And if you don’t get anywhere with a project, put it to one side and try something new. To succeed, you have to have both beautiful prose and a great story – a trickier combination than you might think, but impossible if you don’t persevere, or if you get stuck on one project. You have to experiment before you find the writing voice and the idea that will work for you, but once you’ve found these, there’s no reason why you can’t succeed if you also have professionalism and perseverance!

A huge thank you to Ella for taking the time to talk to us about writing, working for a literary agency and the Society of Young Publishers.  The information she has offered here should hopefully be an inspiration to all aspiring writers. You can find Ella on Twitter @elladkahn and @dkwlitagency.

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Rebecca Smart

Rebecca Smart is CEO of Osprey Group, a UK-based international publishing company focused on producing the best content for enthusiasts across a broad range of specialist areas including military history, heritage and nostalgia, transport history, crafts, antiques, science fiction and fantasy, and mind, body and spirit. Osprey Group publishes in four divisions: Osprey, Shire, Angry Robot and Watkins. What defines the company is not what it creates but for whom it creates. Osprey Group publishes books and content based on subject enthusiasms and passions, whether it be authoritative technical data on the military technology of World War II, a positive psychology guide, a history of the Great Western Railway or an edgy genre novel set in near-future South Africa.

1. What is your most memorable achievement in publishing and why?

The achievements I remember most are those of my team. I believe the most important way I can spend my time is in helping people be the best they can be, and it’s such a great feeling to see someone step up to a new level in their work, or to take on a new role and really fly in it. I know that sounds very clichéd but it’s true.

2. How much impetus was placed on the use of social media with the release of Angry Robot? Any lessons learned?

Angry Robot is very much part of the community (of both authors and readers) it serves. The editors and marketers use social media all the time as a natural part of being ‘in the gang’. Developing a brand within a niche market takes time and patience, but a steadily growing feeling of belonging is crucial and social media is key to this. Lessons … don’t try too hard, blend different types of communication, be yourself, make friends, remember that face-to-face is a social medium too.

3. What are you most excited about as one of the Judging panel for FutureBook’s Digital Innovation Awards?

I have been really excited to see work which matches great use of a digital platform with meeting a clear market need – not just innovation for the sake of innovation. I can’t say any more for now!

4. If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

On workflow and systems, be creative in finding low-cost solutions which move the company towards an ultimate goal, don’t worry about getting there all in one go. And recognise that change makes people feel uncomfortable and that it’s OK for things not to be OK at times – it’s part of the process.

5. What do you look for when hiring individuals into a digital capacity?

In no particular order …

  • Creativity – not just capability around design/appearance of a product but also in thinking about process. I need people who can find their way through a project using innovative solutions. And that means flexibility is also key.
  • High energy combined with strong communication skills and a ‘can-do’ approach – I want someone who can enthuse and evangelise about digital and who is driven to succeed.
  • Technical knowledge and/or a hunger to learn a broad range of skills.
  • Broad commercial awareness and a focus on the customer.

6. And lastly if you were the living embodiment of a publishing business model what animal would you be and why?

We’d be Perry the platypus, from Phineas and Ferb (if you haven’t watched it I urge you to check it out, it’s brilliant). All the qualities of a platypus (people don’t get it but it’s perfectly suited to its environment) and a secret superhero to boot.

A huge thank you to Rebecca for taking time out of her extremely busy schedule to provide such insight. You can find her on Twitter via @rebecsmart. Rebecca is one of the judging panel for this year’s FutureBook’s Digital Innovation Awards of which we are a proud sponsor. I would strongly suggest heading over to the Futurebook blog site for some fascinating takes on digital publishing where you can read more from Rebecca and many others. As a further note the bookings for the Bookseller’s FutureBook 2012 conference close on Friday 23rd November. More details here. The conference takes place on Monday 3rd December so do come and say hello if you’re attending.


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Beyond the Book – The Annual SYP Conference

On Saturday November 3rd 2012 I attended the annual SYP conference “Beyond the Book”. There were some excellent speakers lined up and I had the chance to meet and talk with some fascinating individuals. I was there primarily to network but I also was there in an advisory capacity. Along with three other HR professionals I had been invited to assist with running their Careers Clinic. We held mock interviews based on specific jobs to allow participants to practice interview techniques and build their confidence.

I’d like to take the opportunity firstly to point out just how much work had been put into the day. I was staggered by the commitment and visible passion from the SYP members and I’d like to thank Lucia Sandin and Julie Woon especially for their hard work. It was an absolute pleasure.

All in all, as I was running the Careers Clinic, I didn’t get the chance to attend many of the talks but to give you an idea of the topics covered and for a superb write up you can read about the talks here kindly written by the illustrious @pressfuturist.

So. Onto the matter in hand. How to get that first job in publishing?

This is a topic that is constantly on my mind. There is no easy answer to it and if I could provide a water tight solution I would be wearing clothes that are more expensive, writing this using a very expensive piece of technology and tossing a beach ball to my daughter splashing in our outdoor pool off the coast of Mexico.

I could strip it right back to basics but we’ve covered the main prerequisites already. If you’re here to find out about CV tips you can find them here. For advice on interview techniques you can find that here.

What I wanted to do is comment on the overall atmosphere and feed this back to those reading this. I want to disclose what we look for from a recruitment perspective which ties in rather nicely with what our clients, and the publishing industry as a whole, is looking for. Make sense? Good. You will need good sense as a starting point.

On the day I felt a tangible sense of sad frustration hanging in the air. I met candidates who had undertaken far too many unpaid internships. I met candidates who had been given confusing and conflicting advice. I met candidates who had slept on so many sofas they were beginning to develop back problems. “What am I doing wrong” they ask? “What can I do to improve?” “What can I do?”

What must be remembered is that you are attempting to find work in an industry that is experiencing a period of flux, a time of change, it’s very own renaissance period if you will. Throw a potential nationwide triple dip recession into the mix and you’ve got a challenge in front of you. The industry is becoming more creative and more entrepreneurial. It has to because it’s under a lot of pressure.

The most important aspect of the hunt for that next job is that you are entirely responsible for establishing what skills you have, what skills you want to evolve and what skills you want to learn. Watch the industry. Start following the right people on Twitter. Read the Bookseller. Go to networking events. Go to more networking events. Talk to people. Talk to more people. The only way you can establish how you will fit into the industry is by constantly learning.

It is always worth reminding yourself that, when you are applying for any job, the company is going to be analysing whether or not you will be a viable part of the business. You are joining a business model. You are joining a company to assist them to make as much money as possible. You are not joining a company to satisfy that creative urge, write your next novel or rub shoulders with the literary elite. These aspects of the job do of course happen but they won’t be the reason they hire you. They need you to help them make their next financial quarter a successful one.

My feedback?

1. Do not apply for every single job on an agency page in the vague hope that you’ll be applicable for one. It shows a lack of direction and proper thought.

2. Take time with your applications. I know it’s a lot of work to rehash your cover letters and change your CV but it’s worth it. Don’t think you’ll be doing a lot of work when you get your first job in publishing? Be prepared for late nights. Be prepared to sacrifice your time on a regular basis. This is where the passion comes in.

3. Smile. Stand tall. Show confidence in your own abilities that you have worked hard to earn.

4. Absorb everything. People that work in publishing are categorically obsessed with the industry. If you’re not then perhaps publishing isn’t for you.

5. Talk to people. Network. This not only increases your confidence and knowledge base it allows you to measure yourself against other hopeful job seekers. It’s an insightful process and worth pursuing.

For examples of individuals who live and breath the publishing industry read over the Industry Voices section of our blog. There are also some excellent interviews from people who work in the publishing industry in our Interviews section. These individuals have taken time out of their incredibly busy schedules to provide some excellent advice and insights. This information is provided to you, for free with lots more on the way. What more could you ask for?

This blog is a fascinating exercise whereby we extract as much information as possible from the minds and souls of those working in the publishing industry today. Keep reading. And do feel free to leave comments. I may not be right with everything I’ve written or think so I’d appreciate some feedback if you have any.

I leave you with the words of Charles Bukowski – “You have to die a few times before you can really live”.


Filed under Advice, Industry News & Events

Beulah Devaney

Beulah is an Editorial Production Assistant at the BMJ Group, a contributor (and newly appointed Agony Aunt!) to the literary webzine For Books Sake and a volunteer with the Women’s Resource Centre publishing services. Prior to this she read submissions and managed the social media presence for the independent women’s publisher Linen Press Books. She began her career when she was sponsored to complete an MA in Publishing in 2010 by the Stationers’ Foundation. She loves Angela Carter, knitting, brown sauce, riot grrrl and has an impressive collection of bejewelled animal earrings.

1. Why did you want to work in Publishing?

I was inspired by feminist presses like Virago, Medusa and The Women’s Press. It was exhilarating to find out about all these previously unknown female writers and it made me want to help those who were still struggling to find a platform.

2. What advice would you give someone looking to start work in publishing?


Always ask questions, people want to help you! No one knows everything in their first job and no one expects them to. So learn as much as you can and never be embarrassed to ask for help.


Twitter is still a new platform and a lot of small publishers don’t have a developed social media presence. Offering to take on their twitter or goodreads account will give you a fantastic chance to develop your knowledge and experience.

3. What has been your biggest achievement in your career so far?

Probably getting the job I have now. I’m very proud of the fact that I continued writing for FBS and doing my internship with Linen Press, in addition to a full time job, while job hunting and snatching 10 minutes every day to NOT think about publishing!

4. How much importance do you place on networking? Social media or face to face?

It’s hugely important, both online and face to face! I got FBS, Linen Press, WRC (which I am very, very excited about!), a million invites to industry events and met some fantastic people through a mixture of social media and face to face meetings. It’s also a fantastic way to keep up to date on publishing news and events.

5. How much time do you spend writing?

I write about 1000 words a day and then tend to edit out/delete 975, thereby ending up with 25 a day, just like Dorothy Parker… right…

6.  If you were the living embodiment of a publishing business model what animal would you be and why?

Either the goose that lays the golden eggs or this little fellow

Thanks again to Beulah for her smart and passionate input into what it takes these days to find that first job in publishing. You can find her on Twitter talking about  publishing, writing and more writing at @TheNotoriousBMd


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Ernesto Priego

Ernesto Priego is a researcher affiliated to the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. He’s got a PhD in Information Studies (University College London) and his background is in cultural studies (UEA Norwich) and English literature (UNAM). Ernesto is particularly interested in comics and transmedia studies, online publishing for impact and widening participation and in the qualitative analysis of scholarly networks and academic article-level metrics. Ernesto has been a HASTAC scholar and an international correspondent for 4Humanities, as well as a contributor to University of Venus/Inside Higher Education and the Guardian Higher Education Network. He is a member of the Mexican Digital Humanities Network, RedHD and serves in the ADHO’s ad hoc communications committee. Ernesto coordinates the editorial work of The Comics Grid Journal of Comics Scholarship, a pioneering open access academic rapid publication project.

1. Do you think comics have made a strong digital transition? What lessons have you learned?

I think they have. It’s been happening for a while, maybe since computers became an essential part of the comic book making process. A “digital transition” should not be understood, necessarily, as a distancing away from print and print culture(s). In this sense I think comics have been offering great insight to understand how materiality defines content and the attitudes to said content. And yet a full-on digital transformation is being tested continually, on the web, on mobile phones, on tablets, in different aspects of transmedia, from film to music to books and video games.

I guess the main lesson I’ve learned has been hard to digest, and that is that it’s very difficult to convince the majority of non-comics readers that comics are important and in this case that comics are perhaps one of the best case studies to understand how digital culture is transforming the way people create texts, read them and interact with them and with other readers. Anyone speaking of digital as “the future” of the book has missed the boat. Publishing became digital way before the whole concept of e-books and e-readers became popular and went mainstream.

The history of comic books is the history of comic book publishing too, and that history is a history of particular uses of and engagements with technology. What comic book history teaches us is that technologies (not only digital technologies) have offered particular sets of constraints and these constraints have offered particular sets of creative, artistic, intellectual, and financial possibilities. And yet a quick overview of current comics scholarship  reveals a worrying lack of interest in this material, technological aspect of comic books as both artefacts and texts.

2. How important is the role that social media plays in content access and distribution for academic and educational publishing?

I would say first that this role is very important, if not essential, at least in developed economies. I don’t think you can be a serious academic publisher today if you are not using social media (using it well, but even this parenthetical phrase will be controversial for some, as many think social media is an ‘anything goes’ kind of set up). Social media has become an essential mechanism to promote what you do and engage with authors, readers and other publishers or journals, and in fact the larger academic landscape (this includes students, other universities and institutions, the media, funding bodies, the government, etc.). We need more recognition of the role that social media plays in academia.

Secondly I would have to say too that even if we have come a long way since, say, 2006, I think social media has actually clashed with tightly fixed academic paradigms, so it’s all a bit of a red herring because the academic status quo is not really recognising the importance of online sharing and engagement. In spite of recently popular concepts such as “Altmetrics” the powers that be keep evaluating academic outputs in essentially the same way as they did before the so-called digital age. The way that things are now, you can be an academic or an academic journal with thousands of followers all reading, sharing, citing, and engaging with you and your open access content (and have the metrics to prove it), but, mostly, that won’t “count” as much as publishing an article in a subscription-only journal not even the author can afford and very few actually read. It’s a real shame in my opinion.

So the paradigms or values implicit in the technologies (openness, transparency, interactivity, reciprocity, responsiveness, accountability, community, engagement, accessibility, affordability, widening participation) are not really leading (or at least not leading quickly enough) to a real transformation of mainstream academic culture as a whole. This is why I find the whole idea of an “Academic Spring” hilarious if not offensive to the Arab Spring and other social movements around the world. People don’t seem to want to hear that digital technologies are not necessarily ‘revolutionising’ anything in the strict sense of the verb but I’m afraid that might be the case– and I’m saying this as a digital advocate! On very pragmatic terms we are a long way before the values implicit in social media technologies are actually correlative to the actual practices of mainstream academic culture. Many of us have been working very hard at changing this, not only in theory but in practice, doing advocacy not only by talking about it but by actually doing it. It’s also no coincidence that many of us engaged in doing the digital engagement walk seem to have followed non-conventional career paths. The change is very real already in many sectors, but it’s the mainstream what remains stubbornly and impenetrably conservative.

3. If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

Gosh, that’s a hard one. Maybe “it’s OK to say no”.

4. Has it been a challenge to manage the open access publication model of Comics Grid?

Yes. A real challenge. It’s been really satisfying as well. It’s been fantastic to be part of it, to be able to work with such a fantastic group of people. I am convinced that you can use a CMS like WordPress to do many of the same things that traditional journals do. We also seek to encourage the publication of shorter pieces that are easier to read on screens. This means we are also encouraging the publication of works in progress, or glimpses of the potential of a particular theme or approach, and it also means that we encourage contributors to become active participants in the publishing process, and this means also acquiring some basic online publishing skills.

So the Comics Grid has also been a kind of online laboratory where academic authors become aware of and participate in what goes on behind the scenes of an online journal, looking “under the hood” as Kathleen Fitzpatrick has phrased it, and not become disconnected from their piece once they have submitted it. This also means we are encouraging digital scholarship, as opposed to just doing online versioning of content that was meant to be read on print or following the paradigms of print in the first place. This is why our articles are not static PDFs but proper hypertexts, to use a somewhat outmoded term.

In recent months Michael Hill’s role as assistant editor has been crucial. He’s in Australia so we are on different time zones so we are online at different times. Michael has been in charge of allocating articles to pairs of reviewers. All of this is done online and our reviewers are in different parts of the world and across time zones. The editorial team we have at the moment has been working very hard behind the scenes and the journal would not be possible without them. Of course the most difficult challenge is lack of funding and of a viable business model. I feel very strongly that the established mechanisms to fund academic projects are flawed; it is very hard to find a funding scheme that will support a project that is already taking place and that does not already have some kind of institutional support. So people create projects out of the blue to fit the funding program, as opposed to already – existing projects finding funding schemes appropriate for them to ensure their sustainability. There will be important developments soon, though. The Comics Grid will be taking a big step in its professionalisation as an academic journal – whilst remaining true to its original spirit – so there will be good news to share soon.

5. And lastly if you were the living embodiment of a publishing business model what superhero would you be and why?

Ha ha, brilliant. I think I would be Shade the Changing (Wo)Man, particularly the 1990s version by Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo. A model based on transformation and a little bit of innovative craziness. Openness for the unexpected. All about the Meta, you see.

A huge fanboy thanks to Ernesto for providing such insight and for taking the time to talk to us. You can follow him on Twitter @ernestopriego and read his excellent blog here

And lastly for all the Eisner enthusiasts please find a transcript of a fascinating interview Ernesto did with Will Eisner on the 2nd of May 1999. You can read it here.


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Paul Rhodes

Most recently Head of Digital at Walker Books, Paul is owner of digital publisher/consultancy Orb Entertainment, and partner in start-ups Refresh Publishing and With over 15 years experience across books and games publishing, he has worked with some of the biggest brand names in the entertainment business, from Mortal Kombat to Happy Feet via Tolkien, Star Trek and Maisy.

1. What has been your Frankfurt highlight?

Not one particular thing, but more a feeling I got. I bumped into a quite a few ex-Big Six people who’d gone out on a limb to work on startups and innovative new ventures. I found this extremely encouraging – it shows, as an industry, we are capable of taking those scary steps. We won’t all get it right, but some will, and that’ll keep the business rolling on through the digital change. That and the ridiculous beer tubes in O’Reilly’s with the Kobo guys.

2. What has been your biggest achievement in your career so far?

It’s actually not the thing that made the most money, but it just showed what can be done when you understand your niche and can be agile in your production. I’ve been involved with huge, huge gaming and books brands, but the thing that gave me the most satisfaction was taking the No.1 spot on the PSP comic store.  I had hugely supportive content partners, which is always a massive help, but most of the code and delivery was done in my kitchen. Again, the revenue was small, but I reckon we did better in terms of ROI than most of the games co’s did on that platform.

3. Which game, to your mind, encapsulates a rich content driven approach together with a well-executed brand licensing strategy?

Everyone immediately spouts Call of Duty on this, but I disagree. CoD is a phenomenon, no doubt, but it was always a brilliant game first. The franchise grew from there. Assassin’s Creed, on the other hand, was always about the IP. They planned, developed and executed brilliantly – and now have a truly outstanding entertainment brand. On the more non-traditional side, of course you have to doff your cap to the Rovio and Mind Candy guys.

4. Do you spend more time thinking about gaming or publishing?

I have to say both, don’t I, seeing as I’m a freelancer for both industries? However, it’s actually true. I’m in an extremely privileged position to be able to do that, and I am truly thankful for the opportunities that came my way as a kid. I am more naturally inclined to play games than read these days, (I can’t escape that inner geek. Or outer geek, come to think of it..) but when it comes to business, it’s a close call. The parallels are startling at the moment – collapse of retail, digital growing but not fast enough, DRM, disintermediation, kickstarter, CRM. Both industries are facing monumental challenges and it’s clear that there is not going to be a singular answer.

5. If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

Buy Zynga stock. And sell it before the Facebook IPO. Oh, and stop myself eating carbs after 6. Or if you’re after a serious answer, can I go back a bit further? I’d have started building a DRM-free, community-led digital publishing house that had a userbase of millions. That launched, with hardware, before the Kindle did…

6. And lastly if you were the living embodiment of a publishing business model what animal would you be and why?

Haha you know I’m known as the bear, right? If we’re talking metaphorically, then I’m the bear because I can swallow traditional publishing models (fish), and do alright with those, but what I’d really like to do is tear the head off the salmon and go looking for the honey. Or something else suitably Cantona-esque.

A huge thanks to Paul for taking the time to talk to us and provide some critical input as to the nature of relationships between gaming and publishing. Specialising in IP management, marketing strategy and digital product development, Paul is looking for new projects across the digital space, and can be reached at or via twitter @rhodesythebear

And now the very exciting Shameless Plug.

Alongside the usual raft of consultancy work (including 2 game projects for one large book publisher), Orb Entertainment will soon be publishing a brand new YA fiction series, Shadechasers, by debut author Rick James, in digital formats.

“This is a properly crafted story, first and foremost. It has been meticulously edited by a rising superstar in the YA field and we’re exploring some extremely innovative distribution methods with our retail partners as we speak,” says Rhodes. “I’m ridiculously excited. Rick has created a stunning, fully formed storyworld that will resonate utterly in the real world, and we intend to take the IP forward into all kinds of entertainment formats together. It’s a term often bandied about by publishers, but this was, is, and will be, a true collaboration – we share a vision and we’re going to work extremely hard to achieve it”.

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Dan Franklin

Dan Franklin is digital publisher at the Random House Group in the UK. He works across its five publishing divisions and also commissions centrally with a remit to explore direct-to-digital publishing. Prior to that he started his career at Canongate Books, working in the editorial team before overseeing its digital and audio activity from the end of 2008. He lives in South London and is a devotee of extreme metal.

1. What has been your Frankfurt highlight?

Meeting two of the team behind Plympton, a new company specializing in digital serial fiction who have partnered with Amazon on their Kindle Serials platform. They represent a type of New Publishing, between us ‘legacy’ businesses and the free-for-all of self-publishing. All power to them. Otherwise, hanging out with the guys from Booktrack and Small Demons, two great companies we have been working with.

2. What has been your biggest achievement in your career so far?

In my Canongate days I had a number one bestseller with the tie-in history book of The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose. Its success was tied into a massive HBO series, and almost all the editorial work was done in the US, but I’m proud to have been part of that. Actually, the last two things I’ve worked on, A Clockwork Orange for iPad and Discordia by Laurie Penny and Molly Crabapple – and publishing them either side of the same weekend – that was an achievement!

3. Could you be as effective in your job without using social media?

I think I would be many times *more* effective *without* it. Of course, I’m joking there. I only really use Twitter, never been on Facebook, and it’s my No.1 information resource for almost everything. And it’s obviously a good grandstand to shout about what we’re doing and interact with others: from New York hardcore band Vision of Disorder, to friends and colleagues in the publishing industry. However, it can be a bit of an echo chamber, and I think the best people use it in a certain way to reflect a facet of themselves. It’s not real life.

4. Who do you admire and why?

In publishing, there are a few key people I have learnt a massive amount from over the years, and working with Jamie Byng, Andy Miller, Francis Bickmore and Nick Davies at Canongate basically completely set me up in terms of my editorial and publishing knowledge/experience. I admire them and their generosity with what they taught me over that time. I’ve gone on to give those ingredients a digital flavour. (I won’t mention anyone individually at Random House but that has continued here, and there are scores of them). If I have to pick a handful from other areas, it would be Paul Mason for his news broadcasting, Phil Anselmo of Pantera/Down/Superjoint Ritual etc for a completely uncompromising musical vision and being an enormously articulate spokesperson for personal struggle generally, Werner Herzog and David Lynch for filmic storytelling and interpretations of dreams/‘truth’, and to name a trio of writers: David Vann, David Peace, Will Self – I’ve been lucky enough to meet them all. Unbelievably powerful and visionary prose artists. And I’ll throw in Meshuggah who I have been tripping out on all year, and finally Christian Clancy, Odd Future’s manager, for keeping control of the most exciting collective in hip-hop today and mastering the difficult art of digital marketing.

5. If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

Be patient. Enjoy the moment.

6. And lastly if you were the living embodiment of a publishing business model what animal would you be and why?

I’m always compared to a bear so I have little choice in this – I embrace new things but if I get hungry I might eat you.

Thanks again to Dan for taking the time to talk to us. Dan is a hive of information about metal. If you ask him about his preferences over Pantera or Machine Head you will need to know what you are talking about. Dan would like to cordially invite you to gaze upon his current body of work which he is especially proud of; 

A Clockwork Orange for iPad

Discordia by Molly Crabapple and Laurie Penny

You can find Dan on Twitter @DigitalDanHouse

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Eric Huang

Eric Huang is passionate about storytelling. His first ‘real job’ was as an assistant at Disney Publishing in LA, where he worked for six years in various editorial roles. Eric moved to Melbourne in 2001 as managing editor for Penguin Australia. Then he was publisher at Aussie toy company Funtastic’s new book division. Eric now lives in London. He’s publishing director for Penguin’s Media and Entertainment division and is always on the look-out for creative partnerships to tell stories on traditional and new media platforms.

1. What is your most memorable achievement in publishing and why?

Penguin’s partnership with Mind Candy on Moshi Monsters publishing (books, apps, ebooks) is something I’m very proud of. Our books paved the way for gaming tie-in programmes and changed licensed publishing and licensing! A more recent achievement is a work-in-progress. It’s about helping to redefine what it means to be a publisher: thinking about brand and story rather than format and being a driver to create brands through publishing as well as film, TV, gaming, toys.

2. Why do you think people invest the extraordinary levels of passion into publishing that they do?

It’s about storytelling: spotting the kernel of an innovative idea and helping it become something great. Even the worst day seems worth it when you see kids loving the books and apps we create – or having tantrums in a book store because Mum won’t allow them to buy all five titles.

3. If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

Being in licensed publishing will be a huge advantage in the future. Now that formerly distinct media industries have merged and are colliding over storytelling on tablets and mobile, the networks that licensed publishers have in film, TV and gaming has proved very useful.

4. What do you look for when hiring individuals into a digital company?

Someone who is naturally interested in devices like tablets and mobile phones, people who are naturally curious and not afraid to muck in with new technology, new business models, new ways of doing things. And it’s not necessarily someone who comes from a book publishing background.

5. And lastly if you were the living embodiment of a publishing business model what animal would you be and why?

I’d be a clown fish and anemone – like in Finding Nemo – because it’s all about partnerships with people and companies we would’ve seemingly had nothing in common with five years ago…

Thanks again to Eric for taking the time out of his hectic schedule to talk to us. Just so you know he’s a big fan of dinosaurs. You can find Eric on Twitter @dinoboy89.

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Claire Louise Kemp

The team here at Atwood Tate is made up of a mix of people and backgrounds, and we thought you might like to know a bit more about the people behind the jobs, so we are running an informal series here on the blog: “Consultant in the Hot Seat”. Because it was her bright idea in the first place, Claire Louise is first in the hot seat. (Questions asked by the Team at Atwood Tate).

CLK & Wind in the Willows
1) What is your favourite literary blog?

I tend to get most of my literary gossip from Twitter these days (are you following @AtwoodTate?) But that doesn’t answer the question.

I am a HUGE sci-fi/fantasy geek so the blogs from are all in my RSS feed, in particular Stubby the Rocket (

Penguin English Library ( fulfils my penguin and Classics obsessions.

And I know it’s not strictly literary, but the Doctor Puppet is sheer genius!

I mentioned the whole geek thing, right?

2) What was the best book you worked on at OUP and why?

I worked on so many glorious books, from classics by Rosemary Sutcliff and Brian Wildsmith, to the deeply creepy Tim Bowler, and Joss Stirling’s wonderfully different take on paranormal romance, that it is hard to say. Three of the books that are closest to my heart are Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket by Tatyana Feeney; I Don’t Want to be a Pea, by Simon Rickerty and Ann Bonwill; and the new Wind in the Willows, illustrated by David Roberts. The styles of these are each so different, but so quirky, and fantastic (a little like myself!)

3) If you could have written any book that exists now, which would it be?

I so want to bring out an obscure title here and wow you all with my literary knowledge, but I can’t. It would have to be Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Witty, insightful social commentary, feisty characters, true love… It has it all. Plus it was instrumental in bringing legitimacy to the work of female authors at a time when a woman had to write as a man to get readership.

4) Which literary figure would you be?

I would like to be Daine, from Tamora Pierce’s “Wild Magic/Immortals” series. I’d have kick ass adventures, be able to change shape, get mixed up in royal intrigue, battle with gods, be awesome with a bow*, have a pet dragon… And let’s not forget I’d get to spend time with the VERY yummy Numair Salmalin.

* True fact: CLK was captain of her university archery team. A real life Katniss Everdean.

Follow Atwood Tate on Twitter @AtwoodTate

To find out more about the roles each of our consultants covers, go to the “Meet the Team” page:

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Find Work in Publishing

Times have certainly changed since I started work as a Production Assistant for publishing houses only a decade ago. Now, rather than massaging strained biceps from carrying piles of carefully packaged proofs from desk to desk, we harp on about carpel tunnel syndrome and ponder deep thoughts about metadata.

Which, in turn, leads me to how do we now find work in Publishing when there is so much going on? And where is the industry going anyway? The answer is there isn’t really an answer. No one seems to know.

The basics for finding a job in publishing remain the same. Publishing is an extremely competitive industry. It’s exciting, creative and constantly breaking new ground. Networking, CV structure, interview techniques, market awareness and of course that flawless cover letter are all very important for finding work. But there are now extra bits of data to tag onto the process. If you are interested in Digital Publishing, being realistic, if you want in you have to plug in – which means venturing online, Tweeting and getting involved in as many ways as possible. Start researching. Get a handle on the kind of skills you are going to need and keep learning. The main requisite for a role in digital publishing is a passion for the internet and technology itself. You won’t essentially need to have an acute understanding of coding but you will need to fully embrace the internet and all that comes with it,

Then start thinking about attending seminars, talks and networking events which will give you an overall impression of the industry and also present you with a good chance for meeting likeminded publishing people.

Then figure out how you would fit into the industry. Start with Twitter. It’s not going anywhere and is one of the most valuable tools out there for research, commercial viability, market trend awareness and contact with likeminded people.

Lastly, join an agency, such as Atwood Tate You may not see the point in joining an agency but Atwood Tate is certainly the freshest face of publishing recruitment. Our team has an in-depth knowledge of the publishing industry and a list of contacts well established over many different arms of the industry. With all fingers firmly on the pulse we can send you quick and relevant jobs, guide you through the interview process and advise you every step of the way towards your perfect role. We make every use of online social networking and work hard to ensure you, and our clients, have the perfect match to the perfect role.

To make a start follow our tweets @atwoodtate

And good luck.


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