Tag Archives: books

LGBT History Month in Books and Publishing

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

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

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

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

What’s changing in the publishing industry?

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

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 They are now accepting submissions for PROUD from unpublished and un-agented LGBT+ writers.

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

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Best Book and Publishing-Related Podcasts

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

1)    Mostly Lit

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

You can find them on Twitter @MostlyLit

2)    Minorities in Publishing

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

You can find them here: http://minoritiesinpublishing.tumblr.com/

3)    BBC Radio 4 Books and Authors

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

Download Books and Authors here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrsfl/episodes/downloads

4)    Guardian Books

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

Find all episodes here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/series/books

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

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

All episodes are on their website and can be found here: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/podcast-freedom-books-flowers-moon/

6)    Book Riot

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

Find it on the Book Riot website (and while you’re there, it’s also worth taking a look at the other content on there!): https://bookriot.com/listen/shows/thepodcast/

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

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Our Favourite Books in 2017

Our favourite books in 2017 header

This has been a great year for trade publishing and we’ve been enjoying reading both new releases and older books we hadn’t quite got round to. Here are our favourites that we’ve read this year!

Claire C-S

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)Lincoln in the Bardo cover

The Man Booker Prize winner has been writing short stories for 20 years, but it’s his prize winning debut novel about Abraham Lincoln grieving the death of his son Willie which is already considered a masterpiece. Told through the narrative of spirits and extracts of Civil war memoir, this emotional and poignant tale of loss will stay with you forever.

Ellie

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins)Eleanor Oliphant cover

This debut was deservedly named WHSmith’s Fiction Book of the Year. Eleanor Oliphant is an utterly unique narrator, equal parts irritating and charming, and this story about her learning to engage with the outside world brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It also has the most realistic depiction of a cat I think I’ve ever read!

Claire L

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047 by Lionel Shriver (The Borough Press)The Mandibles cover

I love a good dystopian fiction novel and this one didn’t disappoint! Lionel Shriver creates a believable very near future world which is going through major debt crisis (following an earlier crash of the internet). The US refuses to get on board with the new global currency and this leads to huge bankruptcy. We follow a family who were expecting a large inheritance, having to adjust in this new world and Shriver gives us some quirky and likeable characters as well as some awful ones – just like a normal family?!

Lucy

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend (Penguin)The Woman who went to Bed for a Year cover

The book I am currently reading is definitely up there with my favourites this year. Sue Townsend retains her place in my heart with The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year. Poignant yet hilarious, this book shines a light on modern family life with the wit we expect from the woman who brought us Adrian Mole.

Tanaya

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Mass (Bloomsbury)A Court of Mist and Fury cover

This was actually published in 2016 but I only read it this year as I struggled to get into it during the first chapter. This was by far my favourite book of the year. The main character, Feyer, is rebuilding her life after the massive events of the last book and learns to come to terms with the person she is now. A Court of Mist and Fury is all for empowerment and putting the pieces of your life back together after an abusive relationship.  It combines the amazing fantasy world building and characters of Sarah J Mass with powerful messages about self-worth and independence.

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Tips for Video Interview Success

Video interviews are becoming increasingly popular. They may take two forms: they may be conducted via Skype or a similar platform, where you talk in real-time to an interviewer, or they may involve recording answers to pre-set questions without the presence of an interviewer. The former is similar to a face-to-face interview, although there are a few things you should watch out for. The latter may feel more unnatural if you haven’t done one before, but remember everyone is in the same boat and there is nothing to worry about!

Our Top Tips for Success in your Video Interview

  • Make sure you won’t be interrupted. Remember that video interview on the BBC that went viral when the interviewees children came bursting into the background? Interviewers will probably understand if something like that happens, but it’s likely to throw you off your game! Make sure your children, pets, roommates etc. are aware of what you’re doing and are kept out of the room. You don’t want your cat walking all over your keyboard in the middle of the interview!
  • Use a plain background – a plain wall is ideal. You don’t want the interviewer to be distracted by the stack of laundry in the background or your unusual taste in posters.
  • If it’s a Skype interview, make sure you check your webcam and microphone are working well before your scheduled interview time. Call a friend or family member to check, and to help calm your nerves.
  • If you have to record your answers, make sure you practice and listen to yourself back a couple of times. Without the presence of an interviewer, it’s easy to feel awkward and that can come across in the recording. Practising will help you feel more natural.
  • Dress smartly – as you would for a face-to-face interview – and not just on the top half. You’ll feel more in the interview ‘zone’ as well as coming across more professional.
  • Look at the camera, not yourself. This will give an appearance of eye contact, otherwise you’ll appear to be looking down.
  • Relax – you’ve got this!

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Join the Society of Young Publishers’ Committee

Many thanks to the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) for this guest post about applying for their committee! The SYP put on great events for the publishing industry, as well as advertising jobs on their website. We really recommend becoming a member and making use of their services and events. Joining the committee is a great way to learn new skills and meet new people in the industry.

The Society of Young Publishers is open to anyone, of any age, interested in publishing or a related trade – or who is hoping to be soon. From regular panels, workshops and networking events, to our bi-annual all day conference, we host events around the country to explore current publishing trends and debates to help anyone trying to break into the industry or progress within it develop skills and contacts. The SYP committee is made up of volunteering publishing individuals who are in the first few years of their careers. By day, we’re working in publishing and by night we’re volunteering for the SYP, and we’re looking for new committee members to join us for 2018.

Whether you are interested in running events, a role that puts you in contact with experts across the industry; being the voice of the society by managing social media and communications; connecting with the hiring powers of countless publishers by populating on our jobs board; or looking after our members as membership secretary, we’ve got a role for you. We have monthly team meetings and everyone on committee has a voice and can put forward any ideas to improve the society’s offering.

Being a volunteer on the SYP committee entitles you to a free year of membership and the chance to gain experience and contacts within the publishing industry. Making the move into publishing can be scary, however, being on the committee allows you to meet other like-minded publishing professionals, further your publishing experience and form firm friendships.

We have five regional branches across the UK and Ireland, each with their own committee, and a UK committee that manage membership, partnerships and our quarterly magazine, InPrint. Online and exclusively for members, we host a comprehensive Job Database of entry-level and junior positions around the UK and Ireland, as well as The Network a one-stop online forum for members to share tips and experiences with peers, network online, access exclusive content, and connect with industry experts.

We also offer a number of discounts on courses and event tickets and support a number of awards for emerging talent in the industry.

Applications close Friday 15th December. For a full breakdown of roles by region and how to apply please visit the Volunteer page: https://thesyp.org.uk/volunteer-with-the-syp/

See more of our posts about SYP events: https://blog.atwoodtatepublishingjobs.co.uk/tag/society-of-young-publishers/

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Building Inclusivity in Publishing Conference 2017

Is Publishing Inclusive these days?

Diversity or inclusivity in publishing is very much in the industry news and I went along to the Building Inclusivity in Publishing Conference organised by the London Book Fair and the Publisher’s Association. It’s really good that the industry is addressing this, but it does feel like it’s a particular issue within Trade book publishing. We work with a wide range of sectors in publishing (academic, educational, professional, trade, STM, B2B) and there is a much more mixed demographic across the other sectors.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Creative Industries said diversity is a moral imperative and our social and economic responsibility which I’m sure we all agree with. Everyone also seemed to agree we need to have more role models from diverse backgrounds and it’s vital that there is diversity in senior leadership. Simon Dowson-Collins, General Counsel and Company Secretary at HarperCollins acknowledged that all people are different – some are extrovert, some introvert but it’s important to speak out so people can see BAME people in senior roles and aspire to it.

Halo/Horns Effect

In terms of recruitment, it’s important to have processes in place that avoid what’s called the ‘halo / horns’ effect – where you immediately warm to people like you and are less keen on those who are different. Some of our publisher clients are on top of this, for example using new processes that strip out names in the application process so hiring managers are not biased in their selection process. There have also been some recent strides including the HarperCollins BAME scheme, Little Brown’s new imprint Dialogue Books (publishing books by people under-represented in publishing).

Broadening Inclusivity in Entry-Level Recruitment

The afternoon session looked at broadening inclusivity in entry-level recruitment in publishing and there has been some progress in this area – it’s no longer the case that an English lit degree and a love of books is enough! Initiatives like Penguin no longer requiring a degree and offering help with accommodation and HarperCollins using video interviews and having a BAME grad scheme are helping. But it needs more work like us going in to schools to encourage publishing as a great career for all.

The Publisher’s Association has a 10-Point Inclusivity Action Plan that publishers can sign up to and is definitely worth a read to get some good ideas!

#Inclusivityconf17

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PPA IPN Conference & Awards

The annual Independent Publisher Conference and Awards Ceremony 2017. We are very proud to be sponsoring the event and hope to see you there!

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Q&A Round Up

Last week was the Publishers Association’s #workinpublishing week! We did a Q&A on Twitter – if you missed it, you can catch up here.

Q: What are the key features recruiters look for in a CV and Cover Letter when recruiting for entry level publishing jobs?

A: Office/admin experience is useful across the board, as are work experience, internships or temp roles in publishing houses! A well written, clear and concise cover letter will also get you a long way.

Q: How important do you think events like literary events and trade shows are?

A: Getting to know people at industry events can be really useful, especially as you can get a feel for different roles and sectors! Having said that, it’s not compulsory, so if you don’t live in London and you can’t get to events easily, don’t worry!

Q: When considering a job offer, it’s not just about salary. What else should candidates be thinking about?

A: Consider what’s important to you – the commute time, flexible working opportunities, training/professional development and company benefits!

Q: What are the most desirable additional tools to have experience in?

A: It depends on the role! But skills like InDesign, social media, general admin/database experience are useful for a lot of publishing work.

Q: I have a lot of volunteer experience with indie pubs, and I’m starting to look for my first publishing job. What would you say my next step should be?

A: Sounds like you should start applying for entry-level roles! You’d also be a great temping candidate, which can sometimes lead to long term roles.

Q: how can I make myself stand out from the hundreds of other graduates when applying for jobs?

A: Make your cover letter stand out by talking about your work experience, any temp roles, admin experience, and extracurricular interests which give you transferable skills!

Q: Are entry level publishing roles hard to come by? I feel like I haven’t seen many around since I graduated.

A: Entry-level roles are VERY competitive so get filled quickly, but a great way to get your foot in the door is through temping! Register with us for temping opportunities and we may be able to help.

Q: What are the most in demand roles in publishing?

A: Most people want to work in editorial, but publishers are always looking for Commissioning Editors and Production Controllers!

Q: What are your top tips for writing a good CV?

A: Be clear and concise, use bullet points, and put most relevant experience at the top! No long paragraphs please! For more tips see our blog post here.

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Beanstalk and Reading Matters have joined forces!

We were delighted to hear that Beanstalk who we’ve been supporting for the last 7 years has now merged with another literacy charity, Reading Matters. This will allow them to support even more children and young people and help them to achieve their 2020 vision of working with 30,000 children.

The aim of the charity is to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds gain confidence in reading. Beanstalk provides 1-1 reading support to children in primary schools and early years, Reading Matters covers secondary schools so this is a great combination.

In 2016-17 Reading Matters helped 6,497 children and young people while Beanstalk worked with 11,000 children over the same period.

About Beanstalk

  • Beanstalk is a national charity that provides one-to-one literacy support to children who struggle with their reading.
  • The charity recruits, trains and supports volunteers to provide one-to-one literacy support in primary schools.
    Beanstalk’s trained reading helpers transform the lives of the children they support, turning them into confident, passionate and able readers.
  • In the last school year the charity helped over 11,000 children across England, in over 1,400 schools, with the help of over 3,000 reading helpers, ensuring children have the skills and confidence to reach their true potential.
  • By 2020-21 Beanstalk aims to help 30,000 children every year, with 8,000 volunteers.

About Reading Matters

  • Reading Matters is a registered charity and not-for-profit social enterprise which began in 1997. Since then, the charity has supported tens of thousands of young people.
  • In 2016/17, Reading Matters supported 6,497 children and young people and on average increased reading ages by 13 months in just 10 weeks.
  • The charity runs a range of programmes: Reading Mentors, Reading Leaders, Reading Families and Reading Teams. They provide schools with a resource box of reading materials that will engage and encourage reluctant readers.
  • Reading Matters’ social mission is to help children, young people and adults to reach their potential by becoming confident and enthusiastic readers.

More info:

www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk

and check out the Bookseller article: https://www.thebookseller.com/news/beanstalk-and-reading-matters-merge-664681

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Guest Post: What will defy, embrace or become a disruption in scholarly publishing?

We are thrilled to bring you a guest post on our blog from Jessica Edwards, as she reflects her thoughts on the BookMachine’s recent event, ‘Scholarly Publishing: Crossing the Rubicon’.

What will defy, embrace or become a disruption in scholarly publishing?

Thoughts from BookMachine’s latest event

‘Scholarly Publishing: Crossing the Rubicon’

By Jessica Edwards

The Jam Factory, Oxford, 7 September 2017

Image courtesy of Michael Belcher, Marketing Manager at Ingenta

Image courtesy of Michael Belcher, Marketing Manager at Ingenta

Last Thursday, as I trundled slowly towards Oxford (kicking myself for accidentally catching a slow train – who knew there were quite so many stations between Reading and Oxford?!) I wondered what was in store at BookMachine’s latest event, ‘Scholarly Publishing: Crossing the Rubicon’. Arriving at The Jam Factory, I scanned the room of busily-networking people and took a deep breath. Although I’ve now worked in publishing for over 2 years, and always enjoy chatting to inspired publishing-types, a few seconds of panic always descends when, turning from the table of beverages, glass in hand, the reality hits that one must shuffle into a group at random and strike up a conversation. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to approach two lovely individuals from Atwood Tate – Claire Louise Kemp and Alice Crick. Not only were they extremely friendly, our conversation (and Claire Louise spotting me scribbling notes during the panel discussion) led to the suggestion, offer, and composition of this blog post!

My name’s Jess Edwards, and I’m currently Marketing Executive at Gale, a Cengage Company. Gale creates digital resources (from journal and eBook databases to digital archives) for academic, special, school and government libraries worldwide. Consequently, when the advert for BookMachine’s scholarly publishing seminar popped into my inbox, it not only looked interesting but extremely relevant to my current position, and I quickly purchased an early-bird ticket!

There were four engaging speakers on the panel. Phill Jones, Director of Innovation at Digital Science, a company who invest and nurture research start-ups creating software to aid scientific research; Charlie Rapple, Sales & Marketing Director and co-founder of Kudos, a platform which increases research impact by driving discovery and facilitating the sharing of academic work; Byron Russell, Head of Ingenta Connect, a publisher-facing content management system that enables publishers to convert, store and deliver digital content; and Duncan Campbell, Director of Digital Licensing and Sales Partnerships at John Wiley & Sons, ranked ninth on the Publisher’s Weekly list of the world’s 50 largest publishers, 2017. Bringing together speakers (and an audience) from both large, established publishers and newer, often technology-based start-ups, led to some interesting discussion on the relationships between the two; the responsibilities of each; and whether one or the other is best placed to cope with the disruptive forces in publishing – or themselves be disruptive.

The discussion generated by the panel was wide-ranging and insightful, broadening my understanding of the challenges, relationships and roles in publishing beyond my own. It made me think more deeply about the hugely influential and clearly disruptive issues looming over the industry, as well as the ideas and innovations which currently exist around the edges of the industry, meeting niche requirements today, but which could, in time, disrupt, engulf or evolve the whole publishing landscape.

Insights and topics of discussion that I found particularly intriguing include:

  • The symbiotic relationship between start-ups and established publishers

The opening discussion about innovation in publishing included the suggestion that it is more difficult for established companies to innovate – something easier for new-comers. However, there was also an agreement that innovation is a necessity at every tier of the industry. The conversation moved on to the common practice of publishers supporting innovation elsewhere; encouraging and funding the technological start-ups often responsible for floating fresh new ideas. The arguments were put forward that these start-ups rely on funding and support from the publishing establishment, who had a responsibility to nurture them. Yet the establishment in turn rely on the innovation of the start-ups for their own development and evolution – often acquiring them down-the-line as part of their innovation strategy – thus the relationship could be described as cyclical or symbiotic.

  • Piracy V. Green OA

Although I was relatively familiar with the term ‘Open Access’, I was not with ‘Green OA’. (This was one of the things I was inspired to google following the event, and consequently am now aware of both green and gold OA!) Reference to green OA was made in discussion of the threat and disruptive nature of piracy in the publishing industry. There was also consideration of how attitudes towards sharing have changed over time – and where the fine line now sits between piracy and OA. It was suggested that in the past, if one academic was to email an article to another based elsewhere, it would have been seen by publishers as an infringement of copyright. Now, perceptions of sharing have evolved, with the industry instead taking an observational approach; monitoring such behaviours with the intent to better understand the market. The distinction was made, however, and agreed upon unanimously by the panel, that sharing on a need-to-know basis remains different from mass-uploads by networks such as Sci-Hub. Yet it was also recognised that such ‘dark’ enterprises are also examples of innovation forcing the publishing industry to evolve. The disruptive impact of such ‘dark’ innovation was nicely summarised by Phill Jones: ‘It has forced the agenda, but at the same time, it’s not the solution.’

It’s testament to how packed, insightful and content-rich the discussion was that I could go on…! However, this blog post is already heading towards classification as a tome, so I won’t elaborate on the other interesting discussions, though will squeeze in that these included the impact of new business models such as ‘Netflix for journal articles’(!), how a trend towards trans-disciplinary research and developments in research evaluation will affect publishing, and the future of Discovery Systems.

All-in-all, I highly recommend anyone interested in learning more about a particular area of publishing, or the industry in general, goes along to a BookMachine event. Absorb what the experts have to say – it will almost certainly come in useful in the not-so-distant future – and meander your way into a conversation during the networking drinks – who knows what connections you’ll make, you might even end up writing a blog post for somebody!

A little like Where’s Wally…spot me in the stripey top! Image courtesy of Michael Belcher, Marketing Manager at Ingenta.

A little like Where’s Wally…spot me in the stripey top! Image courtesy of Michael Belcher, Marketing Manager at Ingenta.

Nb. All views are my own, and not those of Gale, Atwood Tate, or BookMachine. If I have misrepresented any of the discussion or speakers’ arguments, this is down to my own misunderstanding.

Twitter @Jessica2Edwards

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicaedwards1/

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