Tag Archives: Hachette

Working In the Book Trade: The Business of Selling Books

Did you know that the UK is the world’s biggest exporter of books?  Publishing is a large and growing industry and the total number of books published in the UK last year was 173,000.  Publishing businesses in the UK alone have a collective annual turnover of £6 billion, making the UK the fifth biggest market in the world after the US, China, Germany, and Japan. On average, the UK publishing industry employs 30,000 people directly and roughly 70,000 people indirectly spread across over 8,000 publishers. Publishing is now a multimedia business and last year digital books accounted 15% of the 360,000,000 physical and eBooks sold. Ebook sales have dropped a little in recent years from 17% to 15%, perhaps because they are being rapidly displaced by digital audio books! These figures give you an idea of the size and importance of the publishing industry.

Earlier in the month, Parissa Bagheri from Atwood Tate was invited back to her alma mater, the University of Greenwich, to attend an event they were holding to discuss Working in the Book Trade: The Business of Selling Books. The panel of speakers included CEO of Bonnier, Perminder Mann, CEO of Hachette, David Shelley, and the Ex-Chairman of Blackwell’s Bookshop Trevor Goul-Wheeker. These leading figures in publishing and the book trade shared their experiences and journeys into publishing, offering advice to those in the audience looking to do the same.  We know a lot of our followers are aspiring publishing professionals or still young in their publishing career, so wanted to share their insights with you too.

CEO of Hachette David Shelley was first up in telling the audience about how he entered the industry. David’s parents owned a second-hand bookshop, so he was exposed to the sales side of publishing from an early age. He began his career as an Editorial Assistant for Alison and Busby (a well-established small publisher).  He kept the company running for 5 years and encompassed problems along the way, such as the book distributor going bust and relocating the office near to Brixton near to where he lived. The owner of Little, Brown asked David if he would consider buying a few books a year as an Editor and he joined the company, which eventually led to his promotion to Publisher, then Head of Division, and finally to his current role running Hachette UK!

Hachette publishes 5,000 books every year and has a staff of 18,000. David explained that the editorial departments receive 1,000 applications for every editorial assistant job, whereas the sales team often only receive around three direct applications. He emphasised the importance of exploring different sectors; foreign rights professionals get to read, travel and correspond with authors whereas, production departments, whilst equally driven and creative focus more on the people and processes in the background. David also advised that publishers are looking for people who are keen to work in finance, also stating that the first two to three years of entering the industry is all about grafting your way through. It is necessary to differentiate yourself from others, don’t rely on just the contacts you have. Don’t be afraid to be bold and fearless in your first year, don’t undersell yourself, and be proud and show off your achievements. People love to mentor younger people, so offer to have coffee with them to show your passion and interest!

His tips for a good cover letter are:

  • Look up the books that your target publisher is publishing and research its heritage
  • Brilliant quality writing – this is a reflection of how well you can communicate
  • Talk about your favourite writers, what are they doing?
  • Be thoughtful and considerate
  • Don’t follow the rules strictly, break rules and disagree!

Bonnier is the sixth largest publishing company in the UK and its CEO Perminder Mann also talked about her experience in the publishing industry. Growing up, she spent much of her time reading, making sure to build up her English vocabulary. She spent time interning and eventually had an interview with Macmillan for a role in its in Special Sales department. She was offered the job, which she explained was quite challenging, but she used the opportunity to gain as much knowledge as she could. Perminder was then promoted in sales and travelled throughout the UK to meet buyers. Later she moved to Transworld (now part of Penguin Random House) as an entrepreneur in a five person team, and faced the problem of not having as much contact or support, constantly having to juggle between having a career and being a mother. She survived that and then moved into children’s publishing, but was travelling too much and decided to move out of publishing altogether.  Publishing isn’t quite like any other industry, though, and she ended up returning when she was offered a position at Bonnier.

Perminder talked about how at Bonnier you don’t have to choose between a career and family, as you can work flexibly she has put benefits in place such as a good a maternity policy.  This is something that Perminder is extremely passionate about given her own experience throughout her career and she is now in the middle of improving paternity pay and continuing to champion equality.

Finally, the ex-chairman of Blackwell’s Bookshop Trevor Goul-Wheeker took to the floor to explain how he fell in love with the publishing industry. Trevor started off as a bookseller and fell in love with the book trade, partly because of the people involved in it. Blackwell’s is a well-known book retailer, but as the digital publishing industry gradually took over, Blackwell’s was forced to start closing stores and were closing 16 high street shops every day. Currently, the UK bookshops account for 41% of books sold with ecommerce accounting for 35% of book sales. However, Trevor stated that bookshop recommendations are still the number one influencer when people are choosing which book to buy.  He believes that bookshops still offer customer engagement and a valued experience and that bookselling and publishing go hand in hand.

All three speakers did emphasise that you do not need a masters to get into publishing; most publishing companies prefer more hands on experience, which shows a variety of skills.  They also all agreed that ecommerce and ebooks are slowly taking over from print as they are easier to access and to read on the go. Audio books are now attracting a new demographic of “readers” and enabling publishers to tap into a new market. Publishers are already and will continue to learn about and develop in the area of audio.

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SYP Practical Workshops: How to be a Booktuber

How to be a booktuber

SYP Practical Workshops: How to be a BookTuber

On Monday evening our Administrator and Social Media Coordinator Ellie was lucky enough to attend the first of the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Practical workshops. The topic was:

How to be Booktuber.

The workshops are a new yearly series of workshops occurring once a month, about a different topic each month. For a full list of the upcoming workshops and how to apply to take part in one take a look at the SYP’s page here.

This workshop was run by an established Booktuber: Leena Normington, aka justkissmyfrog on YouTube.

Leena has previously worked as a Creative Producer for Pan Macmillan, running their BookBreak series on YouTube, and currently works for the Telegraph. She has been a Booktuber for 7 years and was happy to share some tips and practical advice about starting a BookTube channel.

Held at Hachette, the evening consisted of a lot of laughter, discussions and a task of pitching a YouTube video around a certain book.

The workshop was fully attended by 10 people so everyone got a chance to speak, ask questions and generally chat about the different ways YouTube can helping the publishing community within publicity, marketing, sales and more.

Here are our three top tips we took from the event:

  • Affiliate links on YouTube channels

Affiliate links are links to website and booksellers online where viewers of YouTube videos can purchase any of the products, in this case books, discussed within the video. Not only are these links great for promoting books but they’re also fantastic for monitoring how many and what type of books are being bought by the audience. Through this information a Booktuber can monitor the tastes of their audience and adapt to suit them, as well as prove that BookTube sells books!

  • YouTube & Google Analytics

Views are not everything…no, really! On YouTube when you post a video you can go to the Creator Studio and view your analytics for your channel and each individual video. Whilst getting 1000 views on a video would be fantastic, it’s better if the watch time of the video (the average length of time a person spent viewing the video) is higher or equal to the length of the video. If you have 1000 views, but the viewers only spent an average of 30 seconds watching a 4 minute video, this actually shows that this video wasn’t as successful as you thought. If a video has only 100 views but was watched for the entirety of its length this was a more successful video.

  • Tone & Topic

A strong point to take away from this workshop was the need for a consistent tone and topic across all social media channels within business. If a business has a Twitter, Instagram, newsletter etc, when building a new YouTube channel you need to build a channel that matches the established social media in tone and topic. It would be jarring to create fun, bright videos about different topics if the company’s other social media is very serious and focused solely on one topic.

BookTube is a growing social media platform, one which we ourselves have begun, and has been featured recently at several events. You can read about the BookTube event ran by BookMachine last month here.

This workshop was a lot of fun and left Ellie with a lot of information to take away; from software advice to campaign planning. It it was a fantastic evening with Leena and other SYP members and we can’t wait to hear about, and maybe attend, some of the next workshops!

For more information the workshops be sure to follow the SYP on twitter at @SYP_UK and also follow the official hashtag for the workshops: #SYPpubskills

Do you like the sound of BookTube or the SYP workshops? Let us know on any of our social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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