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Byte The Book on The Future of Culture and Storytelling

Byte The Book hosted an event in June 2019 at the Groucho Club “What Does The Future of Culture and Storytelling Look Like?” The panel, hosted by Tortoise’s Michael Kowalski included Alex Holmes of Mostly Lit, Ines Bachor from the Frankfurt Book Fair and Pan Macmillan’s Technology director, James Luscombe.

The panel agree that predicting the future can be incredibly hard and not many would have predicted the recent spurt in popularity of audiobooks and podcasts. Hopefully they’ve still not reached their peak and there will be lots more opportunities to engage with authors, interviews etc. The panel agreed people really like the authenticity of podcasts.

On thoughts for what new tech will be coming soon:

James has been playing around with a voice app but it’s really hard to control and is still too early for the available technology. 4G made downloading and accessing content much quicker and easier and it’ll be interesting to see what 5G will bring…

Ines talked about cutting-edge areas for storytelling methods. Innovative story telling is coming with immersive content and AI eg Springer brought out an AI textbook but there’s still the question of how to monetise these kind of products.

Alex mentioned what some of the audience agreed with – the future is scary (he referred to Black Mirror! And that we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

The panel agreed there’s a huge amount of stories and content out there, which means that the really good things can get drowned out. As well as great books, there’s so much extra marketing content too – everyone is a storyteller, with social media we’re now living in a storyfied world.

An interesting question from the audience was to see how many people use Siri etc with only 25% of the room currently engaging. So we all love reading but it might be a while before we ask them for a bedtime story!

https://bytethebook.com/

#bytethebook

https://bytethebook.com/report of the event and pics

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Who are Jessica Kingsley Publishers?

We had a fantastic evening at the Book Machine: Meets Jessica Kingsley Publishers event yesterday! It was great to hear from the panel on how JKP works, how they develop their list, how they market to their audience and what makes them different from other publishers.

JKP made its name through publishing specialist literature on autism. As awareness grew, their list grew and they are now market leaders. JKP identify niche markets and identify the needs of a specific group of people.

Here we have summarised what each of the speakers had to say about their role within JKP.

Lisa Clark – Editorial Director

Lisa has been at JKP since 2007.

JKP published their first book on autism in 2006. The list now comprises of 650 books from picture books for children to parenting memoirs and is an internationally recognised list.  

How does JKP maintain and develop an established list? It is important that they stay ahead of the curve and maintain creativity. It is key for editors to stay in touch with the community by meeting people constantly, attending events and being present online. Editors do this by tuning in to the debates on twitter so they can identify emerging topics. This network brings authors to JKP.

JKP champions strength and difference. Editors identify sensitivity to readership, to language for example, so that they can maintain strong relationships with communities. Lisa says that this sensitivity is what makes JKP stand out compared to other publishers who dabble in and out of these markets.

They champion autistic thinking and provide support for the challenges. 8/10 of top e-books last year were from the autism list and they are now looking to create more digital content.

What drew Lisa to JKP? Lisa fell into her role but cannot imagine herself leaving, after being at JKP for 12 years.

Andrew James, Senior Commissioning Editor

Andrew manages the gender and diversity list. The list has filled gaps in the market and now successfully dominates it. This year JKP will publish their first book on the overlap between autism and transgender people. Andrew says that other publishers might see some topics as too niche but for JKP they are a goldmine!

To build a list takes a lot of research; editors cannot go in blind, instead they need to understand the language and terminology, issues faced by communities and current debates. They also look at how other publishers have approached the topic, what they did wrong and what they did right.

JKP publishes in a vertical way; they publish resources for children, teens and adults. This means that they have left no opportunity for other publishers to muscle in on their market.

Andrew says that the authors are the experts! The authors know what the market wants. JKP does not work with agents instead they commission from inside the community.

The challenge is to stay ahead of the pack and identify new audiences to reach out to. JKP avoids trends and has moved away from memoirs and introductory books.

Andrew also stays on top of what is new on social media, what is being written about on blogs. YouTube is also a platform for people to share and speak about their experiences.

What drew Andrew to JKP? Andrew used to work in academic publishing but he got sick of monographs. Andrew loves that in the morning he can be working on a children’s book and in the afternoon he can be working on a professional book. Andrew is also passionate about LGBT rights.

Sarah Plows – Marketing Manager

The marketing team is made up of 6 marketing executives who each have responsibility for a certain list and market towards a certain group.

The marketing team immerse themselves in the needs and concerns of their customers. They do this by communicating at every point through email, conferences, over the phone and by reading specialist press and twitter. This allows the team to be aware of sensitivities.

Their long-term strategy for the niche market is to build their mailing list (230,000 contacts) of already engaged customers who have made a commitment to the brand. They can then use email marketing to target these contacts.

Content marketing is also important; the blog has 200,000 hits a year. The team ensures the content is as discoverable as possible, for example by framing headings as questions that people may use in google searches.

The marketing team also leverage their author relationships and connections. Their authors may have links to professional organisations, some authors work for NGO’s.

What drew Sarah to JKP? Sarah loves that JKP has a wide remit to be innovative and take risks. Publishing a diverse range for a diverse audience and meeting audience needs is rewarding for Sarah.

Lily Bowden – Senior Publicity and Marketing Executive

Lily says that autism, gender and mental health currently have the most publicity appeal. 

“Own voices” is a buzz term at the moment with authors sharing their own experiences. It is important for Lily to put the author’s voice at the forefront of her pitches and to find something relatable within own voices stories.

Lily treats her authors as a fount of knowledge, they are the experts and the best people to learn from and talk to. This not only generates trust with the authors that their story will be told in the right way but also gives Lily confidence to pitch their story.

Lily has learned that it is ok to miss the big opportunities. It can feel counter intuitive to miss publicity opportunities but it is her job to make sure they are the right fit for her authors. A learning experience was with 2 authors, 1 who was transgender and both on the autism spectrum who were invited to the ITV show This Morning, it was an uncomfortable and awkward interview.

Lily finds allies in the media, for example journalists and publications sensitive to the cause or already producing content about current issues. This means that stories will not be twisted to fit a house style, but instead their profile will be raised organically because journalists are on board and supporting the authors.

What drew Lily to JKP? Lily loves the variety and being able to work on books that teach you something. Lily hopes she has been made a better and more liberal person.

Pippa Adams – Special Sales and Rights Assistant

Sales for niche publishers differs in that they do a lot of work with NGOs and support groups rather than to the big supermarkets and retailers. JKP builds and maintains relationships with specialist booksellers and suppliers.

JKP’s books are stocked by specialist retailers who are in close contact with the communities they work with. The booksellers may not be huge but it is important to build strong relationships with them so that their books reach communities that these booksellers engage with every day.

Pippa also builds relationships with academic professionals and library suppliers.

Pippa uses her authors as a resource. For example, an author may head up an organisation that could present an opportunity for book sales. Local authority and government spending can be opaque in terms of how the money is being spent, however authors may have contacts, which allows Pippa to spot trends.

With regards to translation rights, the back list is very important. As different countries become more aware, there are spikes of interest. For example, recently this has been the case in Russia with autism. As knowledge grows and spreads, opportunities come organically.

What drew Pippa to JKP? Pippa previously worked in educational publishing in the Middle East and became aware of JKP as her younger brother has autism. When the opportunity to work in the UK and when JKP were looking she jumped at the chance. From a rights and sales perspective, she enjoys knowing that she is spreading something good and not just books.

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How to Get into Publishing

Last week The London Book Fair hosted the event `How to get into Publishing?’. The Olympia Room was full of eager graduates, awaiting advice and tips of how to kick start their career in publishing. Here we have created a summary of what was said.

The panel:

Carl Smith https://uk.linkedin.com/in/carl-smith-8a2a3411b

Shalini Bhatt https://www.linkedin.com/in/shalini-bhatt

Katherine Reeve https://uk.linkedin.com/in/katharinereeve

Maria Vassilopoulos https://www.linkedin.com/in/maria-vassilopoulos-51572320

The panel began by offering a background of themselves, what was their first role and how did the skills in this role set them apart during interviews?

  1. One of the roles was working in a bookshop as a Christmas temp. The skills developed within this role; customer service, bookselling, industry knowledge contributed to success in an interview, especially when asked `what is your favourite book?’.
  2. A hospitality background and the transferable skills developed here; customer service, working on multiple projects, confidence and working with lots of different people are skills relatable to roles within publishing.
  3. If you have not studied an English or History degree, don’t worry, for one of the panel a visual arts degree stood them out from the crowd.

Interview tip: Build a rapport with your interviewer, something you have in common can help you shine in an interview.

What are the geographical challenges and how can they be overcome?

We have to admit that most publishing roles are based in either London or Oxford. However, the big publishers are not the only ones out there. You can gain experience through working in bookshops or working for charities or library suppliers for example.

Editorial roles are not the only choice. Take a look at HR, finance, marketing and production roles also.

The Spare Room Project offers free accommodation in London whilst taking up work placements. Read our blog on the Spare Room Project here: http://ow.ly/86Ck30o88C0 More good news; internships are more often than not paid.

Interview tip: Make sure you are prepared. Research your interviewer and the company on social media, look for a talking point. What are they currently advertising/working on?

In job specs how much of the criteria do I need to meet before I apply?

You don’t have to meet all of the essential and desirable skills, but you need to meet the main essentials and demonstrate them in your CV and cover letter. 

If you feel excited by an advertisement, if you know you can do that job then go for it! There is no harm in applying.

However, be realistic and ask yourself will you feel comfortable answering questions relating to the criteria in an interview situation?

Interview tip: Go in with questions, be curious and passionate.

What are the dos and don’t’ s of CVs and cover letters?

Do’s

Introduce yourself in a personal statement at the top of your CV, your skills and what you are looking for.

Always read the job spec, pick out the key skills and buzz words and demonstrate you have them in your CV and cover letter.

Be meticulous in your spelling and grammar

Prioritise information and layout, show them you can do this in your cover letter and CV. Keep your CV at max 2 pages.

Don’ts

Overdesign your CV. Instead keep it simple, not too hard on the eyes or text heavy.

Send your CV in the correct format if requested.

Make your personal statement too generic, focus on particular skills.

Don’t list all of your previous jobs, but the most important and relatable ones which demonstrate the skills they are looking for.

Interview tip: Represent yourself in the best possible way, but be yourself! Always ask when you will hear from them of the outcome of your interview.

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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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SYP Alumni Event: How do you make a difference to your company when you are not the company’s decision makers?

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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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PPA Festival: CEOs Discuss Employee Potential

In May, Karine and Julie attended the PPA Festival, the leading business media and publishing event of the year. More than 700 professionals gathered to network and attend panels throughout the day.

THE X FACTOR discussion, chaired by Kathleen Saxton (founder of The Lighthouse Company), was one of the highlights of the day. The theme of this panel was how to find talent and nurture employee potential.

The guest speakers were:

Kevin Costello, CEO, Haymarket Media Group
Amanda Barnes, CEO, Faversham House Group
Jonathon Whiteley, CEO, Incisive Media

 

The three panellistsinsightful advice is relevant for graduates and experienced professionals alike. When asked to share their vision of leadership, they highlighted the importance of creating a good culture within the company. In order for employees to be successful, leaders need to provide a supportive and stimulating environment to be successful. A motivated team, which shares the company’s values, is more a guarantee of success than a good leader.

The panel had to answer the common questions about how to break into the industry. The CEOs replied they were generally open to a wide range of profiles as long as candidates match their culture.

Some smaller businesses like Incisive Media do not have apprenticeships, but others like Haymarket Media offer training programs where graduates learn a set of relevant skills to enter the industry. The CEO stated that 75% of their trainees were subsequently hired. For Faversham House, being based in Sussex can be an impediment to attracting talent. As a result, the company tends to hire entry level or fairly junior staff and focus on its employees’ strengths, helping them to develop their career according to their skills and personality.

All the speakers agreed that school and university leavers wishing to enter the industry should focus  on soft skills, as it is attitude which makes a candidate outstanding. Good communication skills and self-confidence are highly valued by employers, as well as taking initiative and seeking feedback to continually improve oneself.

The digital revolution has also had an impact on the kind of skills employers are looking for. With their constant development, data and technology are the two big areas where roles have changed drastically. The people working in B2B publishing have changed too: they need be more agile and develop their adaptability. The CEO of Haymarket pointed out that it has become harder to find talent for the digital sector as there is a real shortage of candidates. To solve this issue Haymarket is trying to develop and build their own talent pool via apprenticeships.

If you are a motivated candidate with great communication skills who wants to work in digital publishing, this is a good time for you!

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