Tag Archives: Bookmachine

Commissioning in Book Publishing – How to build a successful list outside the 6-figure zone?

It was a lovely evening in the beautiful Century Club at the Bookmachine Talking Editorial! Truly enlightening to hear from 3 publishing professionals about how they build their very different lists. Valerie Brandes from Jacaranda Books, Keshini Naidoo from recently founded Hera books and Zara Anvari from White Lion (Quarto Group) were on the panel which was chaired by the brilliant Abbie Headon.

Valerie explained how Jacaranda books was founded in 2012 as a direct result of the lack of diversity discussion in the industry. There was a need for what they were doing and submissions came flowing. At the beginning no budget and no connection, however opportunity was always there because nobody was doing what they were doing. She says that you constantly have to reimagine your list and identify gaps in books published. For instance, they did notice that very few black British authors were published and in 2018 they decided that in 2020 they will publish 20 books written by black British authors.

Keshini is the co-founder of hera, a female-led, independent commercial fiction digital-first publisher (and now also publishing paperbacks). Their audience is the reader who cannot put a book down for 3 days. They publish books across genres such as romantic comedy or psychological thrillers. The story comes first and the commercial aspect is priority, although quality is necessary. The books they publish she admits might not make the Booker Prize list but will make many people happy! For Keshini, to commission you have to love what you commission and be able to push the title/the list.

Zara recently joined White Lion, an imprint of the Quarto Group publishing non-fiction books across pop culture and lifestyle. Business strategy is key for them: you have to have a direction and be profitable. Zara’s job differs from Valerie’s and Keshini’s as she comes up with concepts for books which she then has to sell to her colleagues and managers before finding the right authors for them. It a very collaborative environment and people have to buy into your idea. If you do not believe in it, nobody will. So you need to know what you want and go for it. As the imprint is quite new, they still consider what are their successes, what they do well, and this is a guiding principle across the whole.

How do they find their authors?

Valerie from Jacaranda looks at things she liked. She attends events, talks to agents and publishers, reads articles and blogs. Her advice: you just have to ask! Sometimes just asking if the rights of a book are available will work! For things that were not being published, she really focuses on what she likes, and obviously reads a lot and exposes herself to a lot of different influences.

Keshini from hera finds her authors through lots of different ways. It could be through submissions through their website or from authors and agents (ratio is 50/50 between the two). She was pleasantly surprised by the support she and her business partner received from agents from the start. She also mentioned something interesting about social media and Twitter in particular. Twitter is a way to commission, who would have thought?! There is a big community out there: authors put their pitch down with the hashtag #PitMad. This is very big in the USA, not as much in the UK but is this the way forward?

Zara from White Lion relies a lot on recommendations. Her concepts are born in-house and commissioning for her is more trying to find the right author for it (could be an influencer or an academic). In light of this, budget can be an element too. Zara’s advice is to stay open, and try to sell yourself to the author too as you will be working as a team, in a partnership.

What does success look like?

For Keshini, success is not focussing on prize but high chart positions. Online buzz and good exposure on social media is also very important. For Zara, as their books are very international, success is often measured by the attention they attract at book fairs. They need to make sure it gets international exposure and good conversion in terms of interest and sales. For Valerie, the notion of success has been evolving. At the very beginning, launching their publishing house was a success in itself. It has been an incredible learning curve for the founders of Jacaranda books as there is a massive difference between understanding what being a business is, compared to just being part of a business. It has been really hard and success was surviving as a business. This year what looks like success is very much visible for them as they won prizes and were long-listed for awards.

Commissioning and what makes a list successful are very different things depending on what books you publish and what business you are part of. But what the 3 speakers all agreed on is that to commission, you have to trust your gut and be passionate enough about the book to fight for it. To the question “what makes a book stand out from the lot” Keshini’s conclusion was hilarious but nonetheless very true as she quoted Marie Kondo: “If it doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it!”

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London Book Fair 2018 – What to Expect

Here at Atwood Tate, we’re getting ready for the London Book Fair, which will be taking place on the 10-12th April at the Olympia exhibition centre in Hammersmith. We are busy booking in meetings with our wonderful clients; it’s a great opportunity for us to connect or reconnect with our contacts across the industry. It’s an important time of year for publishers, especially for rights and acquisitions departments, but for everyone else involved in the production and sale of books too. It may be held in London but it is a global affair, with stands from 1,000+ companies from 56 countries around the world and attendees from over 118 countries.

What’s on

Seminars

There are SO MANY interesting talks on, and while it’s impossible to go to them all, you should definitely look at the programme to see what you’re interested in going to so you can plan your time around them. Some of our must-sees are:

  • How to Get Into Publishing – Wednesday 11th April, 4-5pm. This panel, organised by the Society of Young Publishers (SYP), will discuss how you can get your first role in publishing.
  • How to Get Ahead in Publishing – Wednesday 11th April, 5:15-6:15pm. Another SYP panel event, this one is aimed at those already in publishing looking to make it onto the next stage of their career and climb up the ladder.
  • Bookcareers.com clinic supported by The Publishers Association – Thursday 12th April, 14:30-17:00. Come and chat with an HR manager or publishing recruitment consultant at this careers clinic! Get advice on your CV and ask questions to the experts. Our Senior Recruitment Consultants Alison Redfearn and Christina Dimitriadi will be there and can’t wait to meet you. Be warned though – this is a very popular event and will be busy. Get there early and prepare to queue.

Networking

There are plenty of opportunities to network at the fair – at stands, in queues, sitting next to people in seminars… There are also networking events, and you are likely to see us hovering around – do say hello! We’ll be at:

Market Focus

This year there will be a Market Focus on the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) as they celebrate a century since their independence. The aim of the Market Focus is to showcase books and the publishing trade in specific countries and regions around the world, and to highlight and encourage business opportunities globally.

This is really just an introduction to what will be happening at the London Book Fair this year. Whether this is your first time at the Fair or your thirtieth, we look forward to seeing you there! Get your ticket here. Follow #LBF18 on Twitter for more updates.

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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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Book Machine: Reinventing Culture: How the Arts Worlds Collide in the Age of Technology

Reinventing Culture: How the Arts Worlds Collide in the Age of Technology

This is a Bookmachine event, run by the Bookmachine.

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How technology can make reading Fun – Bookmachine Event

If kids are glued to their devices, where do books fit in? How can we make sure they keep reading for pleasure? Our expert speakers will look at different ways to engage young people online to make reading fun.

BookMachine is an informal event series. You are guaranteed to meet someone interesting and learn something new.

Are you attending this event? Let us know!

Buy your tickets here! 

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Creative collaboration & the future of publishing

Writers, agents, publishers and institutional brands are all grappling with the same dilemma: how to produce high-quality books and state of the art digital content whilst at the same time judiciously managing their costs. Project management includes multiple internal and external connections and skillsets.

Take a glimpse into the crystal ball of publishing with three experts and understand how the ever-evolving role of creative collaboration will affect all of us in the future.

whitefox are 5 years old this Spring and will be celebrating with drinks for everyone after the talks.

Free for Bookmachine members, £5 before 30th April and £8 from 30th until the event date: 9th May 2017.

Buy your tickets here! 

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BookTube 101: An evening with Sanne Vliegenthart & BookMachine

BookTube 101

BookTube 101

On Wednesday our Administrator and Social Media Coordinator Ellie attended the BookMachine’s event: BookTube 101.

BookTube is the name given to the community of book vloggers on YouTube (channels dedicated to the discussion of books) and booktubers are the given name of the vloggers that run these channels.

One such booktuber is Sanne Vliegenthart, of BooksandQuills, who was the guest host of the event. She came to discuss the relevance of BookTube to the publishing industry and how she has developed her own BookTube channel and career.

Starting out in 2008 Sanne created her channel BooksandQuills to discuss things she was interested in. At the time she was studying for an English Literature degree, so she wanted to discuss what she was reading. Sanne also covered other topics, as BookTube was not officially a ‘thing’ until around 2011.

In 2009 she began to focus more heavily on books when she took part in the 50 Book Challenge, a challenge to read 50 books in one year. Audiences were responsive to her videos documenting her progress, and she found her subscribers growing due to the challenges popularity.

Now, in 2017, her channel has over 160,000 subscribers, 11 million views and she has created over 600 videos since 2008.

BookTube & Publishing

Sanne links her successful BookTube channel to her getting a career in publishing. She currently works as the Social Media producer for Penguin Random House, and she previously worked for Hot Key Books, an imprint of Bonnier, as Digital and Social Media Manager.

With social media being a part of our everyday lives and new jobs within publishing being created specifically to accommodate and utilise it, a background in booktubing and blogging are a growing way to break into the publishing industry. You can read our post on using blogging to get into publishing here.

Along with discussing the benefits of booktubing on her career development, Sanne also discussed the relevance of BookTube to publishers looking to develop their marketing, sales and publicity approaches.

For most booktubers in Britain, booktubing is a hobby that is done alongside a full-time job or education. Out of the close community of booktubers Sanne is a part of, none of them are professional full-time YouTubers. But many of them do have links to the publishing community.

Some are social media producers at other publishing houses, others are writers, booksellers, freelance editors, marketing assistants and more.

BookTube & Publicity

Sanne then discussed how BookTube can help publishing companies publicise books and journals, similarly, if not more so, than blogs and blog tours.

  • YouTube videos often create more comments and discussions than blog posts do.
  • They can last longer than a blog post – imagine writing a 10 minute video into a cohesive blog post.
  • It’s easy to share content and they’re visually appealing
  • Subscribers of booktubers can develop a personal connection with the booktuber, through reading tastes, professionalism and consistency of posting.

BookTube & Sales

As an example, Sanne has procured, roughly, £45,000 for the publishing industry, selling books through an affiliate link to the Book Depository.

She pointed out that this figure is from one affiliate link only. She cannot monitor the amount her subscribers are spending buying books from her recommendations in shops, online or via subscriptions to websites such as Audible.

The topic turned from how booktubers can help to how they should be approached. Since booktubing is a hobby most booktubers will only read and discuss books that they themselves want to read. Sometimes they are sent books and publicity materials from publishers, but rarely accept anything unsolicited. Often publishers will request to send a book to a booktuber, but there is no requirement that they discuss the book on their channel unless they want to.

It is clear from Sanne’s channel and statistics alone that BookTube is incredibly popular and a worthwhile consideration to the development of the publishing industry.

Our YouTube Channel

We are very interested in the topic of BookTube and hearing some tips for starting a channel from Sanne, as we ourselves have a YouTube channel. So far we have created videos on topics such as How to get a Job Interview in PublishingHow to get into Academic Publishing and shared a vlog of our time at the London Book Fair 2017, among others. We’ve recognised the potential of YouTube for the publishing industry and are utilising it for recruitment.

We want to say a big thank you to BookMachine for holding the event, and to Sanne for hosting! Ellie had a great time!

For more information contact us on any of our social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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BookMachine London: All about BookTube

Our administrator Ellie will be attending this Bookmachine event on the 29th March, at the Library in St Martin’s Lane. Learn all about BookTube from an established BookTuber
Sanne Vliegenthart. It is sure to be an interesting evening filled with fascinating new facts and fun!

Let us know if you’re attending by contacting us on any of our social media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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OPuS/Bookmachine/SYP Christmas Party

OPus/Bookmachine/SYP Christmas Party

Our consultants Lisa Smars and Claire Louise Kemp are very excited to be attending the OPuS, Bookmachine & SYP Christmas Party this year! Held at the Jam Factory in Oxford it is set to be a very fun, very festive, evening!

It is the perfect evening to mingle with everybody across the publishing industry, just a plain good night out.

Let us know if you’re going on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and be sure to say hello to our colleagues if you see them!

Merry Christmas!

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Break into Publishing: Networking

Breaking into publishing: Networking

Common Symptom #2: Networking

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Book

You’re at a fancy venue. You have a glass of wine in your hand, maybe some food or maybe only the fond memory of food at this point, you’ve been standing here so long, watching, waiting, trying to find an in, an opening, a shot – that’s right, you’re networking.

Networking in publishing can be a fairly daunting prospect, especially for young graduates. It’s difficult to be assertive when you don’t claim to be an expert on anything this early in your career. And if you’re quiet and retiring, you’re not exactly going to make a lasting impression. But it’s a worthwhile endeavour so it’s important to try.

As we’ve previously covered in our work experience blog, publishing is a saturated market so you will always have to run a little faster, climb a little higher, work just that little bit harder, to make any headway. It can be bitter pill to swallow but it comes back to how badly you want it.

The important thing to remember is that, believe it or not, networking in the publishing world can actually be quite fun! It’s a chance to mingle with like-minded people who know your struggle and are usually quite helpful in offering advice or tips. A memorable conversation can go a long way. What starts as an observation about the venue or your journey there can lead to suggestions and introductions you could not have come across in any online search you might try. Take a business card, take two! Take as many as you can until you have a winning hand. And if you have your own cards, even better.

Events

There are great events happening all the time, from Christmas parties to pub quizzes, hosted by a variety of societies and institutes, all of them masters at bringing people together for a night of fun and games while also creating an ideal space for networking.

And don’t worry, if networking doesn’t come naturally to you, remember that, like everything it gets easier the more you do it. You don’t need to own the room, you can be yourself and let your passion show through. Think of talking points in advance to help break the ice, familiarise yourself with publishers and who their authors are so you can show you know their company and what they’re about.

Next step? Sign up to newsletters, check out websites like the SYP, Bookseller, BookMachine, then pencil in some dates – who knows, it’s possible you could bump into one of our staff making the rounds and we might be just the person who can help you!

If you have a question in need of answering, about networking or other work experience related questions, let us know on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn!

 

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