Category Archives: Industry News & Events

Write-ups of conferences and events that have been happening around the Industry.

Girls can do Anything

The panel:  Abiola Bello (Author and co-founder of Hashtag Press), Hannah Sheppard (Literary Agent, DHH Literary Agency), Charlie Morris (Senior Publicity and Marketing Executive, Stripes Books), Gillian McAllister (Sunday Times Bestselling Author)

On Wednesday, our administrators Kathryn and Anna went to the evening event Girls can do Anything, Write? The first panel discussion in a new series hosted at The Library in Covent Garden as part of the London’s Big Read 2019, inspiring an eagerly listening audience with suggestions for success in a publishing career.

Are women’s voices heard enough in the publishing industry?

The industry is predominantly populated by women so why are women rarely the ones in charge of those important decisions? After acknowledging that there are exceptions to this within the big six trade publishers, the big takeaways were:

  1. Male voices are often given more weight – women are making the hiring and firing decisions but men are rising through the ranks at faster speed.
  2. Men and women brand themselves differently – men are often more confident and actively seek a response, whilst women couch themselves with a much more passive approach. This confidence, particularly in authors trickles all the way down to the retail selling of a book.
  3. The glass ceiling has not yet been smashed – more conversations need to be had in the sharing of maternity leave for example.

On a positive note, women reign supreme in crime fiction at the moment and their voices are being heard in publicity roles across publishing.

Lesson: Be confident and share support, whatever stage you have reached in your career

(Don’t be afraid to ask AND offer!)

How can more BAME women be heard in publishing?

Publishing houses are making more of a conscious effort in their recruitment processes however, diversity reports show that there is more work to be done.

  1. There are not many BAME submissions and more books need to be published with BAME characters
  2. There is a twitter “mob mentality” around individual voices, however the existing writing community is under pressure to avoid writing diverse characters. So how do we get diverse books to young readers, with characters reflecting themselves, to encourage them become authors?
  3. It is possible that we need to start from the bottom, and address potential unconscious bias within schools and promote books outside of the educational canon.

Some Advice…

Are you an aspiring writer? Here are some useful tips:

  • FINISH THE BOOK! You can edit later, it is much easier to work on a finished manuscript.
  • Find something that triggers inspiration for you. A particular genre of films?
  • When reading, read analytically. (This is relevant to a career in publishing on the other side of the desk too!)
  • When writing, your characters should drive the plot – what do they really want? It is their goal that should lead the story.
  • It is important to network; attend events, blog, join in conversations, subscribe to industry news outlets like The Bookseller and BookBrunch. (This is relevant to a career in publishing on the other side of the desk too!)
  • TIP: Try to write 20 minutes a day and take a day off.

Do you want to get into publishing? Here are some useful tips:

  • Read a lot, especially what is being promoted, bestsellers and what is being reviewed. It is important to have knowledge of what works and the industry itself.
  • HAVE OPINIONS! When applying for a job, look for a connection between yourself and the role you are applying for.
  • Read the job advert closely, understand exactly what they are looking for and demonstrate that you have those skills.
  • Look at the companies’ social media and website and see what they value.
  • TIP: Recognise the business person within yourself and be a boss in your field!

With contributions from Anna Slevin.

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Brexit – what does it mean for publishing and recruitment?

There’s a huge amount of information about Brexit on the news, internet and you’re probably all discussing with friends and colleagues at the water cooler. There’s also a lot of uncertainty about how things will change in the coming months and how this will affect the country and us personally. I thought I’d highlight some of the resources I’ve been keeping track of to help have an overview:

 

Publishing resources

Our recruitment industry body, the REC has a number of reports and blogs that look at issues such as immigration, shifting working patterns and labour market trends in the UK. https://www.rec.uk.com/help-and-advice/policy-and-campaigns/brexit

 

Research Information is an excellent resource for all news around non-trade publishing so worth keeping an eye on.

 

The publishing industry weekly magazine and website, The Bookseller, keeps us up-to-date with news as it happens eg https://www.thebookseller.com/news/political-chaos-wake-withdrawal-deal-concerning-and-unacceptable-say-trade-bodies-894296

 

The Publisher’s Association has a blueprint for UK publishing and regular news and policy updates.

 

If you’re a member of ALPSP they have regular updates in their monthly bulletin.

 

The IPG also has some interesting blogs and podcasts some of which is available to non-members and worth checking out eg Podcast on Academic publishing, Open Access and Brexit (and Plan S – worth finding out about if you’ve not come across it!).

 

I hope that gives you some ideas as we’re all lacking firm answers at this point!

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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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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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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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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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SYP Panel Help Aspiring Publishers to Kick-Start Their Career

In September, SYP London kindly hosted ‘Kick-Start Your Career: How to Succeed with your Job Search this Autumn’ for aspiring and entry level publishing candidates hoping to gain some career and work experience from established members of the industry. Speakers included our very own Associate Director Helen Speedy, who all brought their experiences and insights on how to build a successful career in publishing.

Did you miss the event? Perhaps you would like a recap! Helen Speedy shares her publishing career advice and experiences.

Explain your role and how you got there (approx. 5 mins each).

I am the Associate Director at Atwood Tate, a specialist publishing recruitment company based in Central London and Oxford. My job is to manage the Permanent team day-to day, who consist of seven consultants and an administrator, and make sure everybody is hitting their targets, having smooth relations with both clients and candidates and generally feeling happy. I am also the contact for senior publishing roles across the country, so a day can be talking through pipelines and business development with my team, or taking briefs from clients and sourcing appropriate candidates for the recruitment process.

I got my first job through talking to one of the speakers at the Oxford Brookes Careers Day towards the end of my MA, who gave me the contact details of someone looking for an Office Junior.

How do I get my first job in publishing?

There are a number of ways to get your first publishing job, and it’s worth trying a few to give yourself the best possible chance.

  • MA (plus work experience and networking)
  • Work experience placements that could lead to your first job
  • Through an agency – temping can lead to perm or to getting that work experience you needed but being paid properly along the way (also perm)
  • Networking events are a great way to build up your contacts and make a good impression before you’ve even made an application!
  • Proactive volunteering/personal work are also worth considering to boost your CV and stand out from the crowd. It is a lot easier to prove your interest in children’s illustrated fiction if your social media, blogging or volunteering backs you up!

What advice would you give your younger self, when you were just starting out?

Be more confident and don’t always assume that there are people better qualified than you.

What do you regret doing in your career?

I don’t have any regrets really. That may sound a bit complacent, but I have the philosophy that you make the right decision at the time and there is no point looking back. There are various points in my career when I could have taken a different path and I have turned down jobs and also taken roles that didn’t quite turn out to be what I thought. I remind myself that I made those decisions and they felt like the right choice at the time.  As long as you feel in control  and you are happy with your decision at that time, you should not have any regrets.  The only lasting regret I have is not calling out a bully, but I was young and in the junior position, so I forgive myself and it has given me the strength to help others confront difficult situations and not be scared to do so myself.

Associate Director Helen Speedy (second from left) after speaking on the panel

What’s the best career advice you’ve heard?

  • In terms of CV advice, make sure it shows the difference you made and the impact you’ve had, not just a list of your duties
  • If you’ve got lots of voluntary experience, internships and temp roles, try categorising rather than listing chronologically – tell a story and make sure the facts support the narrative.

How do you know if you should go for a role or not?

  • Can you tick 70-80% of the boxes (usually nobody has it all!)
  • Is it located in a sensible place for you to commute to?
  • Does picturing yourself in the role make you feel excited?
  • Do you think it would give you opportunities to learn?
  • What do you know about the company culture and how that would suit you?
  • If you’re not sure, try to have a conversation (with recruiter or name on advert)

Is it off-putting for employers if you apply for lots of different positions at the same company?

It depends on the size of company. It can be off-putting if it looks you are applying for anything and there is no real effort on any of the applications.  HR will begin to wonder how can  you be truly that interested in so many different roles with different skillsets! If there are different roles that catch your eye, find out if they will refer you if their role isn’t suitable. In a small company,you may get referred internally (I did for my first job and ended up with a better job than the one I applied for!)

Want to hear more about the SYP?

The Society of Young Publishers is a membership body for aspiring publishers and current candidates in the first ten years of their career. With branches in London, Oxford, South-West, North, Ireland and Scotland; the SYP is the biggest membership organisation in the publishing industry. For more details and to sign up, go to https://thesyp.org.uk/membership-signup.

 

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Atwood Tate Does The SYP Pub Quiz Night

What happens when you mix four publishing professionals, good burgers and a pub quiz with pictures? A good night out, apparently!

Not far near London Bridge lies The Miller – a pub with excellent burgers and an interesting range of cider (including Frozen Strawberry Slush!)

Last week, four of the best and brightest that Atwood Tate have to offer went along for the annual SYP Pub Quiz in support of the Book Trade Charity (BTBS).

We called ourselves Atwood Great (modest!) and went head to head with  7 other teams of people starting out in the publishing industry.

What we thought would be a straight forward question and answer session turned into a feat of anagrams and guessing opening and closing lines!  We did worryingly well on the children’s literature round, but the most team bonding happened on the ‘Say What You See’ – how many can you get from the picture below?

say what you see

Unfortunately, we had to bow out early, but we had tons of fun! Thank you to the lovely team at the SYP for organising.

Want to get involved in an SYP event?

Society of Young Publishers (SYP) have a great events schedule and job board for the publishing industry. We recommend becoming a member!  Some of our team will be at How to Succeed with Your Job Search so make sure to have your questions ready!  

SYP logo

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