Tag Archives: Coding

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.


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!


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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How to Use Blogging to Get into Publishing

How to use Blogging to get into Publishing

How to Use Blogging to Get into Publishing

How relevant is blogging to publishing? You’d be surprised. Blogging is not a hobby you should start specifically to enter publishing, but if you have one: mention it!

Blogging is a growing hobby, and a new career choice, in the 21st century. Having a blog gives people a platform to discuss what they want and voice their own opinions. But it also gives you the opportunity to work with others across multiple fields of industry. Not to mention develops skills in your own time which can help you in the long-run.

If you’re just starting out and are looking for an entry-level role within publishing, blogging is a great skill to have! So long as you have some work experience to back it up, blogging can tip the balance on whether or not you get an interview or even a job!

There are many different types of blogs, and all can help you gain many skills, from Coding, Design, Marketing, networking and more! But within the Publishing industry specifically book blogging is a very relevant skill!

Book blogging, or booktubing (video blogging), gives you the chance to voice your opinions about books and the latest book trends. A book blogger can write reviews, top ten lists, trend-reviews and more and each of these topics has some relevance to publishing. If you’re an established book blogger you may even work with publishers; taking part in blog tours, hosting giveaways and Q&As and attending book events.

Through communicating with publishers through these events, and voicing your own opinions, shows a potential employee that you understand the industry. You can see trends, converse with professionals and work to deadlines in a creative and independent manner.

This is relevant to all sectors, be it Trade or B2B, and all roles from IT, Editorial, Publicity and more!

It also shows an interest outside of work, which suggests to a future employer that you are a reliable candidate with a keen sense of the publishing industry.

Whether you’re a book blogger or not; blogging is skill to add to your CV!

Here some things you can highlight to show how blogging is useful to you:

  • Commitment: The longer you’ve been blogging the better. This shows commitment and creative thinking, and also proves that you can work well independently.
  • Networking: If you’ve worked with brands or publishers mention it on your CV. Not only does it prove your communicational skills, but also shows an understanding of the industries you mention. This is particularly good if the brands are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • Social Media and SEO abilities: Have you got 1000 twitter followers because of your blog publicity? Mention it! Do you understand SEO? Mention it!
  • Coding: If you’ve altered your HTML yourself or have learnt about it then put that down as a skill. For more information about HTML and how to do it, look at our series of posts here!
  •  Design: Did you design your blog, or make your own graphics/headers? Have you got original artwork or worked with others to create artwork? Put it on your CV.

There are so many relevant and useful skills which can be a real pull to employers when looking at CV.

Make sure you have other work experience to back up your blog experiences, but also be sure to highlight the skills you have learnt through blogging! It could mean the difference between getting a job interview and getting a job when you’re first starting out!

Need any more tips about how to enter publishing? Take a look at our Work Experience & Entry-Level Resources!

For more advice, or if you have any questions, get in touch via any of our social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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Put the power back in the hands of the juniors! Emma Barnes at The Galley Club – Seven years: what happens when the coding kids graduate?

Coding Kid

After leaving corporate life, Emma Barnes set up publisher Snow Books and quickly realised that the software she needed to process royalties and administer systems was either too expensive for a start-up or just didn’t do the job she required.  Her solution was not one that most of us would consider, but Emma’s decision to teach herself to code and build her own system, Biblio Cloud, is indicative of her infectious drive, energy and pragmatic approach.

At The Galley Club on Tuesday, the theme of Emma’s talk was Seven years: what happens when the coding kids graduate? The class of 2023 will have been programming since they were 5, she warned, and basic coding principles are being taught at primary school level now.

Emma is confident that by 2023, all entering the workforce will have (or require) technical skills.  I don’t think anyone could deny that it will certainly be advantageous to have a more technical skillset, but where does that leave us now and how do we plan for the short term and longer term future of publishing?

Barnes’ talk was a call to arms: train yourself or train your staff now and you will reap the rewards. Technology disrupts and new developments occur faster than the economy is able to adapt. As an industry, publishing needs to strive to anticipate and adapt to change.

Writing code or programming software might not be for everyone, but Emma Barnes certainly left her audience inspired to have a go.  She taught herself to code through books and there are also forums and online groups, such as Codebar and Rails Girls for those who learn better through human contact.

I came away with the feeling that, as an industry, publishing should be taking responsibility for training or “upskilling” its workforce.  What an advantage it could be to have technically capable employees in-house.  By growing its own, perhaps to an extent, publishing can avoid the problems of culture clash and pay discrepancy that can come with hiring developers from other industries.  Time and money could be saved.

If you are worried about getting employees on board to develop their skills in this area, Barnes has convincing arguments to inspire those who haven’t grown up through the computer science route. Code is language and she believes writing code script triggers editorial satisfaction as well as giving you a job for life.  Barnes described code writing as the modern equivalent of being a craftsman, an activity which allows you to become the maker as well as the ideas person. Code is “written in narrative arcs”, so it does make sense to those whose strengths lie in language and literature.  To back up her case, I can add my own anecdote.  Married to a software developer, who studied English literature and whose love of poetry inspired him to read me the entirety of The Wasteland in one sitting, I can testify that software development is not solely the domain of maths and science graduates.

Barnes is sceptical of publishing describing itself as a creative industry when she feels creation is not always encouraged and there is reluctance to break the traditional cycle. She urges us to put the power back into the hands of the juniors and provide them with the opportunity to give coding or other technically focussed roles a chance.

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