Tag Archives: Event
SYP Alumni Event: How do you make a difference to your company when you are not the company’s decision makers?
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.
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
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!
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.
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?
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!
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:
The three panellists’ insightful 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!
The Variety of Publishing
Thanks to Anna Slevin for this blog post!
The SYP recently hosted a panel discussion entitled The Wider World of Publishing, Alison and Anna went to find out what it was about.
An all-female panel discussed pay transparency, diversity (or perhaps more accurately inclusivity within the industry) and Brexit. Each panellist gave a rundown of their organisation and a day-in-the-life for their job. Discussion ranged from big publishing houses poaching talent from small presses and the size of the UK market in foreign publishing – and both Germany and Italy can give big book advances
The big takeaways were that there are opportunities whether in job openings in organisations you might never have thought of, audiobooks, or the fall of the pound sterling seeing a rise in foreign publishers buying UK books (for now at least!). Book to film and TV adaptations are increasing in recent years too.
Help with funding for those starting in entry-level roles from the Booktrade Charity or support like the Spare Room Project with accommodation for people to come to London exist. They really do but public awareness of these are low so please let the publishing industry know where you were looking for advice when you were starting out!
Most importantly think outside the box!
The Panel were:
Aki Schilz – Director at The Literary Consultancy
Sheerin Aswat – Head of Sales & IRC Relationship Manager for The London Book Fair
Zoe Plant – Senior Scout at Daniela Schlingmann Literary Scouting
Eliza Kavanagh – Campaigns Executive at The Publishers Association
Beanstalk are a nationwide charity dedicated to helping child literacy in the UK by sending trained volunteers into schools to read with them. We think this is really special which is why Beanstalk are Atwood Tate’s chosen charity. When they hosted a panel discussion on the topic of Literacy in a Digital Age, Anna went along to find out more.
In the news, recent headlines have decried a decline in the vocabulary of primary school children that has taken place in the last decade. Perhaps there is a correlation in the rise of portable technology. By using the best affordable technology to support provision to schoolchildren Beanstalk are hoping to improve national literacy levels. A new trial scheme has Amazon staff members Skyping school settings to bring voluntary reading support to remote locations it would be difficult to reach in person.
Smartphones and tablets can be a distraction, potentially leading to a lack of long-term concentration. The panel were asked whether technology could help teachers support reading or indeed help reading levels in general. The outlook was generally positive.
Comments ranged from 0-3 year olds being encouraged by tablets; the interactivity and personalisation a story with the aid of technology engaged otherwise reluctant readers; Prof Teresa drew attention to audio supplements and the digital book apps by Nosy Crow; text-based computer games can also expand a player’s vocabulary. Learning to read can be hard – and technology by its very nature is non-judgemental.
Francesca pointed out that her market is 5-8 year olds and ebooks account for less than 1% of her royalties. A parent downloading a portable copy of a book their child already has. Children still like physical books the panel agreed. How much of that is cultural habit future generations will discover.
Studies show that children are more likely to share an open book than a tablet or phone screen Dr Nicola explained, although phones for us are private and personal. Any discussion therefore needs to include frank conversations about how we interact with technology in society. The panel concluded that literacy is about more than just reading. It is about sharing ideas, stories, interests and enjoyment. Part of what Beanstalk does so well is connecting children with adults who will encourage them to read what interests them.
The ideal is to interact through the technology, not with the technology. We just haven’t got there yet. Nursery rhymes have incredible potential and replicating the anticipation with a picture book, with gaps for words and interaction may well be possible with the mediated experience delivered by technology. This could help in home environments where adults cannot sit and read with a child for ten minutes a day.
Other things discussed included the dearth of reading aloud as it is not included in school targets. The audience contributed to the conversation too and acknowledged the scale afforded by technology as it can reach more people, bringing together a community of shared readers; social media can suggest books suitable for a certain age group to busy parents.
When 1 in 4 children do not own a book of their own in the UK and public libraries are closing it is easy to think that access to books is the only problem but technology can give access. The other major issues are generating the desire to read and knowledge of what is available. Technology is the tool, not an answer in itself.
Food writing as we understand it has been growing for the last fifty years. The days of Mrs Beeton lumping it together with household management are long over. Recipes to memoir… three panellists explained their understanding of the genre.
Claudia Roden, a Jewish Egyptian, began writing as a way to record the oral traditions of a mosaic of communities forming the refugees from her homeland. The publication part was something of a surprise. Sumayya Usmani, a solicitor from Pakistan, decided to write in Britain and changed the attitude towards food in Pakistan, a region in which food has evolved over only 70 years. Both women come from a background of families sharing recipes through practice and a culture of entertaining in a way that Britain does not. Tim Hayward, the final panellist from the South East of England ran away to America to become an advertiser before turning to food writing with a nerdy delight.
Have you ever torn recipes out of a magazine or newspaper?
How often do you actually cook from them?
When was the last time you cooked with confidence sans recipes?
All of the panellists would rather write without recipes. Unfortunately, recipes are what sell and no publisher will countenance a food publication without recipes. Every food writer has been approached to write an article with the title something like “10 recipes with…” and offered a flat rate but they find them dull to write and targeted for SEO. Even trying to give specific timings like Jamie Oliver or Delia Smith for cooking onions: 3 minutes? It depends on the hob, the pan, the quantity of onions. The food writers teach their children skills at home, or like Usmani in cookery classes.
Turn to the works of Roden or Usmani instead. Be transported by the prose to the places the food evokes, that the descriptions conjure. Food writing is the new travel writing.
In the Q&A session afterwards an American asked about the growing fears of cultural appropriation. The authenticity of the recipes, the veracity of voice. The panellists acknowledged the dangers of this – Hayward as a white male especially, with British imperialism historically behind him. Roden on the other hand argued that cooking is shared and developed. Whilst researching in the Mediterranean she discovered a cook she was discussing recipes with had used Roden’s own book to develop some of her published work and Roden could not have been more delighted. Food writing also is truly global in that sense despite being region-locked by cuisine.
Yet readers rarely cook themselves. Roden observed the aisles of ready meals in supermarkets have grown in recent years and Usmani noted the descriptions of those ready meals taking inspiration from Mediterranean cuisine.
Interestingly all three panellists said that writing about fads and food they wouldn’t want to make themselves would be the hardest thing to write about. Fashion in food unless it falls within your interests is impossible to do well.
A desert island book to finish with. Roden could not choose as too many of her friends could be in the audience! Hayward unequivocally recommended The Gastronomical Me by M F K Fisher. Usmani wanted to take the family book, sort of a diary, a collection of travels she is never allowed to publish, or failing that, Allen’s book of cooking skills.
We’ve had an amazing (if exhausting!) three days at the London Book Fair 2018 this week. We’ve had really productive meetings with clients new and established, met some brilliant new candidates, been to fascinating seminars and walked far too many steps (I wish I’d had a pedometer to keep count)!
Our Highlights from the London Book Fair 2018
We had a comfortable booth in the Club at the Ivy, which acted as our base and a venue for meetings on all three days of the fair.
The excitement of the fair was contagious, and it was really fun to walk around soaking up the atmosphere and looking at the stands. It was great to see what new releases are coming out soon as well as new developments in the industry as a whole, including a big focus on technology and audio.
The big talking point this year was the recreation of the Oval Office, built to publicise the release of Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s new novel, The President is Missing. My other favourite was the Usborne stand, which looked like a treehouse! The children’s section was as fun and colourful as ever.
The Bookcareers Clinic
Christina and Alison had a great time at the Bookcareers.com clinic supported by The Publishers Association. They met enthusiastic future publishers and gave them our best tips as well as explaining a little more about what we do, including our temps service, which is a great way for aspiring publishers to gain (paid!) work experience. If you missed it, you might want to have a look at our Work Experience and Entry Level Resources page on our blog.
Helen particularly enjoyed meeting interesting people in academic and professional publishing at the ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers) drinks on Tuesday. She would like to thank them for organising such a good networking opportunity!
There were too many excellent seminars to name all of them, but here are some of our highlights:
Anna went along to the Society of Young Publishers’ seminars on Getting Into and Getting Ahead in Publishing. These seminars were broadcast live on Facebook and if you missed them, you can still watch them here. They simultaneously launched their new mentoring scheme, SYPinto – find more information here and get your applications in quickly! The main take-aways from the seminars were: tell the recruiter why they should hire you, don’t include irrelevant or negative things and the cover letter is as important, if not more important than the CV. Networking and making contacts is the thing and that’s partly what LBF is about!
Helen went to the seminar ‘Academic Research: How Free Should it Be?’ It was very interesting and opened her eyes to the complex drivers behind Open Access (OA) publishing and the complexity of the issues surrounding it, including the differing perceptions of OA in different markets. For example, Indian researchers are generally suspicious of OA but China tends to have less of a problem with it and will be happy to go OA with a prestigious brand. It’s a complex global picture and the lines of communication between publishers and researchers are not always clear, which leads to difficulties. Researchers often take a narrow view and are focussed on how publishing affects their funding but publishers have an overarching view of the complex issues and other drivers of the change to OA, so they aren’t always “on the same page” and that is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
From Academic to Children’s publishing: Ellie was particularly excited to see one of her childhood heroes, Jacqueline Wilson. She went to listen to her give a great question and answer session, where she spoke about the challenges and rewards of writing about children from disadvantaged backgrounds who experience very difficult situations. She also talked about returning to old characters (as in her new book, My Mum Tracy Beaker) and the new challenges facing children growing up today compared to when she first started writing. Apparently she finds it much more difficult to write a text-message conversation than an in-person one!
On a more serious note, Claire went to the talk on ‘A Bookish Brexit’, which covered ideas on what the international publishing community might expect from a post-Brexit UK publishing industry and what policy positions the UK will need to adopt. The Publisher’s Association released their Blueprint for UK Publishing which you can see here.
Claim to fame…
Our very own Senior Recruitment Consultant Claire Carrington-Smith was featured in the Bookseller Daily on the Wednesday for ‘My Job in Five’! If you missed it you can see it again here.