Author Archives: Stef Hall

About Stef Hall

Stephanie is another main contributor of the blog. She joined the team straight from Nature Publishing Group where she has worked as Sales Coordinator responsible for supporting sales colleagues globally in London, San Francisco, New York and Tokyo offices. Prior to this she has editorial experience on manuals and official documents, plus some impressive intern experience with trade and academic publishing houses, giving her a comprehensive insight into the publishing business. Stephanie’s main focus at Atwood Tate will be on publishing jobs in STM Editorial, Sales and Marketing, Publicity, Customer Service and Administrative, from graduates to mid-management, in London and the South-East.

The Bookseller Marketing and Publicity Conference 2014

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We had a fantastic day on the Southbank earlier in July for the Bookseller Marketing and Publicity Conference. With so many publicity and marketing people crammed into one (dimly-lit and wifi-free) conference room, it was an excellent chance to mingle with some very friendly, very passionate publicity and marketing professionals. It was a very long day, with so much useful and interesting information, that it would be impossible to write everything we heard. Here’s a quick summary of the day (slides from the day are available on the Bookseller website):

Nigel Roby and Alice Ryan kicked off the day welcoming us all and introducing Jessica Elvidge who is Creative Strategist for YouTube and Daniel Dalton, Staff Writer at Buzzfeed who both gave us some great tips on using content for YouTube (for example – I’m a backwards Q introvert, in case you were curious) and on social media (tip number 3 – be emotional, not rational was my favourite, using the @WstonesOxfordSt twitter account as an example of how to use twitter effectively).

Danny Asling from Wiley and Katie Sadler from Harper Collins followed with excellent examples of how trade and academic publishers are using social media and events to engage their audiences. Jo Henry from Nielsen Book Research had some fascinating things to say about Consumer Insight, followed by Claire Evans and Louise Vinter from Transworld and Penguin Random House respectively, who told us about how they’re embedding consumer insight across the organisation and how they’ve been learning about getting to know their audiences.

Nicholas Lovell, founder of GAMESbrief taught us about The Curve and the morning was rounded off with a panel of booksellers. Melissa Cox, Children’s Buyer for Waterstones, Sheila O’Reilley, Owner of Dulwich Books and Jasper Sutcliffe, Head of Buying at Foyles discussed how booksellers can act as an extension for the publicist, championing books that they feel passionate about directly to the customer.

Our afternoon kicked off with rules for writing good copy from Andy Maslen, Founder of the Andy Maslen Copywriting Academy and Dan Bond, Head of Digital Marketing at Adestra asked us if our email marketing was a world cup winner.

We had some super case studies in the afternoon, starting with Clara Nelson, Editor and Alice Broderick, Publicity Director at Vintage talking us through their campaign on a shoestring for John William’s Stoner, followed by Tania Vian Smith – Head of PR and Gemma Green, Marketing Manager at Penguin Children’s Books, showing us what magic you can create when you use bird cages and hunky young actors in city centres. Crystal Mahey-Morgan, Digital Account Manager for Random House then talked us through a superb presentation for Jamal Edward’s book and their @selfbelievers campaign, showing us how to sell books to people who claim to hate reading, thinking outside the box and repackaging content to suit the audience.

Katie Roden and Damien Horner from Fixabook explained why design is our most important marketing tool and how to make the most of our covers and driving the value (not cost!) of print content up. Following this, the very interesting Preena Gadher, Managing Director of Riot Communications talked us through her ideas book and how they use their combined creativity at Riot to come up with great campaigns.

Finally, to wrap up a fab day, the panel of Literary Editors chaired by Cathy Rentzenbrink, Associate Editor at The Bookseller gave the Publicist in the room some fantastic tips from the other side about how to best convince a literary editor to review your book. Patricia Nicol – Freelance features writer and editor, Fanny Blake – Books Editor of Women and Home and Robert Collins – Deputy Literary editor of The Sunday Times gave some really great feedback about how they’re working with Publicists at the moment and how they go about picking which books to review each month or week.

Phew! After all of that, we were all treated to some complimentary drinks to mingle and catch up with familiar and new faces. It was a great day with a lot to take away and think about. For me, the two highlights would have to be:

  • Bringing people in from outside the traditional industry (gaming, social media, agencies) is a long called for development and it was an absolutely fantastic chance to bring in creative peers from many industries to give ideas on how things can move forward in marketing and publicising content. It’s great to see that we’re finally opening our doors to people in other sectors to come and share how they see things in their areas of expertise.
  • The focus on consumer insight – we had quite a few speakers talk to us about knowing who you’re selling to and focusing on using that data to more accurately reach the most likely buyers. We now have access to enormous amounts of data about how people shop and what they buy so it was brilliant to see how this is being translated within marketing and publicity campaigns to make sure that the industry evolves and moves forward.

Full programme for the conference can be found here.

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Stephanie Hall

StefHall

 

1)   What book are you reading at the moment and what do you think of it?

2013 was the year I started a goodreads account and between my Kindle and their algorithm I fell into a bit of an indie author YA/NA hole, which I actually didn’t try very hard to get out of. I’ve just finished rereading the Slammed series by Colleen Hoover, which was picked up by Simon and Schuster last year. (She actually chose to sign with Simon and Schuster for print-only deal and keep control of the digital side herself for the latest one – very savvy!) The recent rise in Publishers picking up bestselling indie authors is something that I’m absolutely fascinated by and was talked about a lot a LBF13. It’s changing the roles within the industry and it’s quite exciting to have these people come in and shake up the traditional publishing business model! It means very interesting things for marketing, editorial and sales teams and I’m keen to see how it plays out over the next year or two. I also keep dipping into Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson, AKA The Bloggess, which makes me cry with laughter on the tube.

2)   Which literary figure would you be?

Scout Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. She’s blunt, can climb trees and has a better understanding of what is important in other people than most of the grownups, which are three very admirable traits.

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

I would love to say an incredibly profound classic or a novel of huge cultural importance, but as a Generation Y-er/Millennial in the process of trying to buy property in London, I’m going to go with Fifty Shades of Grey. A quick Google search tells me E.L. James’s net worth is $60 million. If that’s a bit of a cop-out, I’ll go with the Catcher in the Rye because I’d like the satisfaction of writing something that so many people love and then become a recluse and write for my own pleasure, just because I can.

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

Edith Grossman, who is perhaps the most successful Spanish to English translator and always does a beautiful job. She always has a lot of interesting opinions on literary translation and was asked to do the 400th birthday translation of Don Quixote, which gives me huge job-envy.

David Sedaris, because he’s one of the funniest writers I have ever read.

Albus Dumbledore for a little bit of wisdom and to see that scar shaped like a map of the underground.

Mario Vargas Llosa because I’m a big fan of the literary output of the Latin American Boom, and he’s my favourite of the lot. And it’s a very good lot.

Finally, I’d invite Lydia Bennet, she’d be inappropriate and foolish and you need a bit of scandal at a dinner party to discuss the next morning.

5)   What are you most looking forward to in 2013/2014?

My book, film and translation nerdiness hits its peak when I hear about or go to see a film adaptation of a book I’ve read. I have never understood why people get upset about changes or additions or omissions. Those are the best bits! With that in mind, I am most excited about going to see The Fault in Our Stars, to see how they split Mockingjay into two films, The Book Thief and Gone Girl in the next year. And 50 Shades of Grey (two mentions in one blog post?) – I am fascinated with the concept of translating this to the big screen and all the obstacles (Script? Casting? Rating?) that it’s already facing. Regardless of the plot or the quality of writing, I’m intrigued to see how someone else tries to tell this story through a different channel. ‘Citing!

True fact: Her vacuum cleaner has had one previous owner, who was Paul Gascoigne, of weepy-football/drinking fame.

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An Open Letter to Graduates

We’re coming up to that time of the year again. That time when we come in to work, open up our Outlook, see what’s come in overnight and realise our inbox is bursting at the seams with emails from hopeful, enthusiastic, raring to go soon-to-be graduates who aren’t sure what they want to do, where they want to do it or how they want to do it, but know they want to work in Publishing. Publishing: that big, mysterious, incredibly popular, glamorous-sounding industry. We try to offer candidates the best advice we can here at Atwood Tate, we have this lovely blog with interviews, tips and hints, we meet all candidates face to face to discuss the industry and opportunities, we spend a lot of our evenings networking, visiting publishers, going to seminars, drinks (lots of drinks!), to the London Book Fair – all so we can offer the best advice we can to candidates. But I’m going to be honest and hopefully save you a teeny bit of time… Graduates: You’re doing it wrong.

I’ll elaborate. I might even include some bullet points later on if you’re lucky. Publishing is a very broad term. There are a lot of sectors, a lot of departments and at the risk of repeating every post on this blog – a vague, hopefully exciting, future. “Publishing” isn’t a career path. You’re going to have to narrow it down, I’m afraid. I assure you now, you won’t like every job in Publishing and you won’t enjoy or be good at everything. I’m even going to go out on a limb here – you might not even like trade editorial or publicity (and you definitely won’t be promoted from Editorial Assistant to the Boss of Everyone in a month, thank you E.L. James).

I don’t want this blog post to sound negative. I love that I work in recruitment for a vocational industry. People don’t work in the Publishing industry to make their millions(!), they do it because they’re passionate about it, and that enthusiasm is contagious – it’s fantastic to meet candidates who care so much about their career or future career. We care about the industry – we’ve all been there, worked in those jobs, completed those expensive internships, been the 17th person interviewed in a row for an entry level position. I assure you, no one has more empathy for you guys than us!

As promised, I’m going to bullet point this stuff out. Why are you doing it wrong?

  • A passion for books does not an Editor/Marketing/Publicity/Production Manager make. There. I said it. That’s not going to fly with hiring managers, I’m afraid. The industry is a business, not a book club. Get involved! What’s happening? Who’s buying who? What are people making? What trends are appearing and why? Go to the Book Fair, read the Bookseller online, subscribe to blogs like these. What’s selling and what isn’t? What are your opinions and predictions? Like the Kindle? Didn’t hate the Waterstones’ 3-for-2 offers? Opinions are good. Healthy. Have lots of them and share them – you might even find people that agree with you!
  • There is more to it than Trade. Some of the most exciting publishing developments are happening outside trade. STM, Academic, Educational – sure, you probably won’t meet Jacqueline Wilson for lunch or have Dan Brown on your speed dial, but the other sectors are doing things that really matter. Apps, e-learning, open access… Learn about these things, because they’re important, they’re making money and they’re making new jobs. These sectors have a really exciting future. (And a lot more vacancies!)
  • Internships. We go on and on and on about internships here, they’re an unfortunately expensive, time consuming and sometimes boring way of getting into the job you want. But I’m going to give you some tips. It might be exciting to work for the bigger ones and dream for two weeks that you have that super important, very glamorous, cocktail drinking, book launch attending job, but actually… have you considered the benefits of a small publisher? Not only will they be very happy for the extra help, but you’ll get to do more, see more, help more. You’ll get a better overview of how each team works together and why and it’ll help you with my first point – you can start to narrow down your search to one department. It’s also worth mentioning the larger publishers have enormous waiting lists for internships. Be savvy – write to smaller publishers, independent publishers, publishers slightly outside Zone 1… You’ll get more out of your work experience, I promise. Here’s some free earth-shattering insider knowledge: They’re more likely to remember you when they have an entry level role come up/someone they networked with needs an assistant. Avoid the revolving internship door and go somewhere you can really help!
  • Plan ahead. Read all of this and none of it applied to you because you know exactly what you want to do and where and on what lists? You know that in 10 years you’re going to be a Commissioning Editor for a classical music series or a Media Relations Manager for an STM Publisher because you love impact factors and showing off about them? That’s fantastic! Let’s make a plan. Who’s doing that job right now? Go to LinkedIn, go networking and start a conversation. How did they get there? Did they start at the bottom (yes!), do they have any advice (almost certainly!) and do they have any contacts they can introduce you to (always!)? Let’s face it, people in this industry love to talk.

To summarise: Get stuck in and don’t lose a drop of that enthusiasm you graduated with – just put it to the best use possible!

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