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What I’ve Learnt from working at Atwood Tate as Administrator & Social Media Coordinator

Working at Atwood Tate
What I’ve Learnt working as Administrator & Social Media Coordinator at Atwood Tate

In July 2016 I joined Atwood Tate as a maternity cover Administrator. In October I was made permanent as the Administrator and Social Media Coordinator. Sadly I am now leaving the company which I have absolutely loved working for, for an exciting opportunity working as a Marketing and Publicity Executive at a Trade publishing house.

As Administrator, and later Social Media Coordinator, I have learnt a lot during my time at Atwood Tate! From the different publishing sectors to the true cost of London commuting!

Upon leaving University in May 2016 I hectically began applying for numerous jobs and work experience placements within publishing and had first-hand experience of the difficulty of breaking into this industry.

Publishing is an increasingly competitive world to enter into and often candidates requires a lot of experience to get an entry-level job. With work experience placements often over-subscribed and most not covering more than expenses, it was sometimes difficult to add extra work experience to my CV. Instead I developed my skills within blogging, social media and coding which eventually led to me gaining a few interviews.

If you want to learn more about how blogging, YouTubing and Coding/HTML can help make your CV’s stand out take a look at our blog posts on these subjects!

I was lucky enough to come across a vacancy at Atwood Tate and attended an interview for the role. I was later offered the position of Administrator and jumped at the opportunity to be working within the publishing industry on the recruitment side of things.

Working in recruitment is a great way to learn about the industry and to network with a lot of people working within it.

Ultimately, I’ve decided to return to my roots within publishing, but during my time at Atwood Tate I have learnt many things about this industry and have had a great time doing so:

What I’ve Learnt Working at Atwood Tate:

  • There are more sectors in publishing that just Trade, Academic and Educational. This includes: B2B (Business to Business), STM (Science Technical and Medical) and Professional publishing. These sectors are just as exciting as the three I knew about prior to joining, and are a great place to build experience and learn more about publishing.
  • Also, there are a lot more roles within publishing than just editorial. A lot of people are looking to enter Editorial positions when they first apply for publishing roles, but Publicity, Sales, Rights and many other job roles are just as engrossing and immersive within the industry
  • Recruitment Companies, such as Atwood Tate, are a great resource for job-hunters, both experienced and entry-level. Even if Atwood Tate have no available roles for entry-level candidates we have created resources for entry-level candidates across our social media and on our website. This includes fortnightly Q&As, a work experience resources page, quick email responses to inquiries and regular helpful blog posts on job applications, temping and skills development.
  • Publishing Recruitment is just as immersive as working in a publishing house. When I first joined Atwood Tate I wanted to meet people within publishing, and develop my networking abilities. Since starting I have gone to numerous Society of Young Publishers event, attended the London Book Fair and LBF seminars, gone to the Borough Book Bash and generally communicated with publishing houses and publishers via our Social Media accounts
  • And last but not least, one of the best things I’ve learnt from working at Atwood Tate: helping people to find a job within publishing is a fantastic feeling.

Not only have I met some great people outside of the office but I have also made some fantastic friends within the company as well – mostly from bringing in copious amounts of cake!

One of the best bits of feedback we can receive from candidates and clients alike is about how friendly they find the staff at Atwood Tate, and it’s true! I may be biased but the main aim of everyone at Atwood Tate is to get our candidates their dream jobs, and clients their dream employees. And to give advice during the times that we’re waiting for those jobs to come in.

I’m leaving Atwood Tate in the full knowledge that if I ever need a new job in future I will be in safe hands when coming to them.

I also leave behind our new social media which I have had the great responsibility and joy of developing, including our YouTube Channel and Instagram. I leave this in the capable hands of our new Administrator and Social Media Coordinator: Andrew Willis.

You’ll be hearing more about Andrew in the coming week! So watch out for that.

For now I leave Atwood Tate with huge thanks for the wonderful opportunities and experiences I have had. And best of luck to our new Administrator Andrew, who’s going to do a wonderful job!


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How to Get Ahead in Academic Publishing

Today we have a guest post from Academic Professional: Suzanne Kavanagh.Suzanne Kavanagh Academic Book Week


Suzanne Kavanagh has worked in publishing for over 20 years, most recently as Director of Marketing and Membership Services at ALPSP. You can contact her via @sashers or suzanne.kavanagh@gmx.com.


How to Get Ahead in Academic Publishing

Armed with a fistful of crumpled CVs and an Art History degree, I trudged up and down Charing Cross Road looking for a bookselling job. I’d set my heart on working in publishing in my third year at uni, but trawling through The Guardian I realised it would be hard for me to stand out from hundreds of applicants who, no doubt, also felt just as passionately about books and read voraciously as I did. I figured bookselling would be a good starting point.

This was the first time I’d considered what I had to offer. It made me think about how selling jeans in a shop provided influencing, negotiation and questioning skills. I realised that bar work provided customer service and conflict resolution skills (as well as excess consumption of warm white wine…essential for low budget book launches). Fast forward a few weeks and I was happily ensconced at a specialist art bookseller.

Aside from a borderline obsession with alphabetising each section and secretly sniffing new stock, I learned a lot that would be relevant for my career.

It was pretty cutting edge for *coughs* 1993 *coughs*. We had a PC networked stock management system. We used this to mail out subject leaflets to customers around the world. I used my enthusiasm and retail experience to help customers find the book they were after and proved to be an occasional foil to the sometimes-grumpy owner.

My first job at a small trade publisher was in the sales and marketing team. I dealt with bibliographic information, wrote jacket blurbs, marketing copy and produced the new titles catalogue. I got to know everyone in the company and gained a real insight into the publishing process.

But the low salary made it hard to live in London. Sound familiar?

Meanwhile a friend kept telling me about the publisher she worked at. They published academic texts for students, researchers and professionals in the humanities and social sciences. She loved working there. And she was paid quite a bit more than me. Academic publishing had never occurred: I’d always assumed that publishing meant fiction, poetry and pictures. But the facts speak for themselves.

The UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport reports that the publishing sector employed 200,000 people in 2015 – an increase of 3.7% on the year before. (Source: DCMS 2016 Focus on Creative Industries report). These figures include book, journal, newspapers, magazines and database publishing. However, in 2011, Creative Skillset reported the breakdown by sub-sector: Journals and Periodicals employed 26% of the workforce and Book Publishing 17% and Academic is drawn from both these categories.

In May 2016 the UK Publishers Association reported that total sales of book and journal publishing were up to £4.4 billion in 2015. Academic journal publishing was up 5% to £1.1 billion and there were £1.42 billion export revenues with two thirds of this figure in education, academic and ELT (English Language Teaching). (Source: PA Statistics Yearbook 2015 news release)

Academic is a vibrant sector employing a lot of people and is a major economic driver in the creative industries.

My second publishing job was at that academic publisher promoting journals and reference works. When asked why I wanted the job, the answer was clear: I’d relish working with books that support education, research and the furthering of knowledge. I got the job and – to my surprise and delight – a decent pay rise.

The great thing about many academic publishers is that they tend to be large organisations with more opportunity for training and promotion. I took all options open to me. I applied for internal jobs to learn about different lists and improve my skills. I was curious, enthusiastic, worked and played hard. I got to know people, respected different departments and personalities it took to run the business. Roles included Marketing Coordinator, Executive, Manager, Senior Manager.

Since then I’ve had the privilege of working in a range of organisations including Taylor & Francis, Continuum and the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers. I saw first hand how diverse the sector is at ALPSP, an international trade body for not-for-profit organisations. Their members include the American Historical Association, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the OECD, SAGE, as well as all the larger commercial companies like Elsevier and Springer Nature. There are a lot of publishers covering pretty much all disciplines.

I know it seems obvious, but the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that job mobility and training go hand in hand with progressing your career.

You may start in one department/role. That doesn’t preclude you moving to others where your experience is applied in different ways. There are plenty of opportunities with more specialist jobs where, with the right training, you can become expert in a particular niche.

When I started out, it was relatively simple: assistant / coordinator / executive / manager roles in sales / marketing / production / editorial. And now? Well a quick glance through the Atwood Tate vacancy list tells a story. Roles like ‘Predictive Analytics and Insight Specialist’ and ‘Instructional Designer’ sit alongside Product Editor and Marketing Executive. It’s a taste of how the industry is changing. If you move roles, and learn new skills, you’re more likely to get on.

So what does the future hold for you and what skills do you need to be successful? There are three main areas you need to plot your profile against. Where do you map yourself on this chart? Where do you want to be? This is by no means exhaustive, but provides insight into where the industry will be.

Academic Flow chart

My final advice for working in academic publishing?

  1. Be curious: ask open questions, listen and learn
  2. Read industry publications, blogs and research
  3. Remember you’re dealing with people: be courteous, build your network
  4. Take every training opportunity – from free webinars to paid-for courses
  5. Enjoy it! You’re giving something back to advancing human knowledge.


We thank Suzanne for her wonderful guest post!

For more information about Academic Book Week, and more information about academic publishing, see the official website and the Twitter feed.

If you are a publishing professional and would be interested in writing a guest post for Atwood Tate just get in touch.

Please email: eleanorpilcher@atwoodtate.co.uk or get in touch via any of our social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Kellie Millar

Taj Mahal Kellie

What literary figure would you be and why?
The first thought that came to mind I would have to be Tom Sawyer as I admire his creative thinking, playful and adventurous spirit and I’d love a friend like Huckleberry Finn. On second thought I would also be Peter Pan because of his youthful spirit, positive attitude and belief in magic. He too had an adventurous nature and used his positive attitude to get through challenges and defeat even the toughest of rivals.

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?
I would have to have marvel Comic’s Storms’ power to manipulate the weather. I’d also love to be able to surf like the Silver Surfer!

What book are you reading at the moment and what do you think of it?
I am reading a book by Hal Elrod called “The Miracle Morning”. He talks about the 6 habits that will transform your life before 8 am. I enjoy the positive and motivational tone of the book and have tried a few steps so far, including getting up an hour earlier to visualise a positive day ahead and even going to the gym!

What has been the highlight/s of the past year?
I have enjoyed working for Atwood Tate and with my team, supporting the publishing industry and contributing to the positive and passionate workforce. Since joining Atwood Tate, I have come to understand the people who work in publishing like Peter Pan, all believe in magic and miracles especially when it comes to meeting deadlines. Everyone works together with passion and for a love of what they do to get the job done and make things happen. Our Temps and Freelance team also help to make magic happen by helping people continue in their careers and build on their experience. Interns get paid as Temps and get wonderful recommendations from our clients. Freelancers keep freelancing and doing what they love to do. Clients are happy too because we magically make the right candidates appear just when they need them.

What is on your Birthday wish list?
A reunion with my family. They are scattered all over the world and it would be lovely to see them all together in one place.

True fact: I used to be a blond!

To find out more about the roles each of our consultants covers, go to the “Meet the Team” page.

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Claire Law

Claire Law in a kayak

If you could have written any book that exists now, which would it be?
A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson. It’s such an incredible achievement to have produced such a vast work and to think it was 150 years before the Oxford English Dictionary and without the internet. Or alternatively the Scrabble dictionary as this has been a vital tool throughout my long and happy marriage.

What three books changed your life?
I’ve always been a big reader and wish now that I’d kept a journal of books and authors read with some kind of notes. Books that made a real impact are:

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. Great introduction to fantasy and magic worlds for children that probably led to my love of the ‘magical realism’ genre and authors like Gabriel García Márquez, Kate Atkinson, Angela Carter, Haruki Murakami etc
  2. The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser – it was a massive challenge getting through this book (epic poem) at uni as I recall it was almost like translating another language. It made me appreciate studying the text but did put me off reading for a while!
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Studying Canadian women’s literature I discovered Margaret Atwood and have read all of her novels since. She’s a feisty and prolific writer as well as being an early adopter of social media. A real inspiration (and see the true fact below).

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?
Can I go for a photographic memory please? Not sure if any character has this but it would just be so helpful for work and in life generally. Thank goodness for an amazing database at work and Outlook for remembering pretty much everything!

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
I can’t wait for our new website to be launched – hopefully in the next month. It’s been lots of fun working on updating it, especially looking at how the publishing industry has evolved over the last 6 years since our current website was created and incorporating changes like whole new industry sectors and job roles.

What is on your Birthday wish list?
I’ve just had my birthday and didn’t get the £20 million super yacht I’ve had my eye on, so will be asking for a warmer wetsuit to get out on my kayak instead.

True fact.
When setting up Atwood Tate I felt it would be confusing to use the name Law in case people thought we did legal recruitment, so decided to put together a name using a publishing reference and one of my favourite authors, Margaret Atwood! (The Tate part was added on for balance)

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Alison Redfearn

Alison Hotseat

What book are you reading at the moment and what do you think of it?
At the moment I am reading The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham. Set in the time of British Colonial rule, this follows the story of Kitty. When her husband a government bacteriologist finds out she is having an affair he forces her to move to a remote cholera ridden part of China. I am really invested in Kitty’s fate, although I first thought she was self-absorbed and spoilt, I have grown to like and sympathise with her character as she grows and develops. This is a real story of spiritual awakening. I love the way Maugham builds up the atmosphere and the reader is really kept wondering whether or not she will meet her demise.

If you could have written any book that exists now, which would it be?
I would love to have written Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. I am a massive fan of this author and would have loved to have the accolade of one of the best crime writers of the 20th Century. She is such a clever writer and this is a true crime classic. I admire the author’s ability to build up tension and get deep under the skin of the two characters. Even though you know who the killer is at the start she still manages to build up the tension.

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?
It would have to be time travel. I am quite a nostalgic person and always find myself imagining what it would be like to be alive in certain eras. If I could go back to any era now it would be to the Roaring Twenties, not only for the fashion, glamour and the parties but to be among literati such as Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

Which literary figure would you be?
I would love to be like Roald Dahl’s character Matilda because despite her circumstances she never gives up hope and she tunes her abilities to help herself and others. I love her motto “never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”

Interesting fact
I am originally from Berwick upon Tweed, the northern most town in England which according to popular myth is still at war with Russia!

To find out more about the roles each of our consultants covers, go to the “Meet the Team” page.

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Olivia Constantinides



Which literary figure would you be?

I would have to be Cleopatra, as depicted in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra is powerful, passionate, charismatic and beautiful. Although she has a tragic end, she goes out in style and her eyeliner is on point!

If you could have written any book that exists now, which would it be?

The Bible. I would have edited it heavily and removed all the passages that encourage bigotry and discrimination against others. I would also have rewritten the Ten Commandments and given people more fun rules to live by.

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?

I’ve always thought it would be cool to have chameleonesque powers and the ability to transform into anything or anyone at will, so a bit like Changeling from X-Men or McGonagall’s transfiguration spell in Harry Potter. This power could be used for good or evil…

What book are you reading at the moment and what do you think of it?

I am currently on book three (page 1918 of an epic 2664!) of the Liveship Traders, a fantasy trilogy with all the staples of magic and dragons as well as serpents, pirates and talking ships. There’s a good variety of characters, locations and plot lines. The first book sets the scene and introduces you to the characters and the action really gets underway halfway through book two, but it’s worth the wait if you can persevere!

True fact: My hair is almost a metre long. It should develop super powers soon…

To find out more about the roles each of our consultants covers, go to the “Meet the Team” page.

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Administrator in the Hot Seat – Katie Hargreaves

Our regular ‘Consultant in the Hot Seat’ slot has been hijacked this month by our Administrator, Katie.

Katie in London

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?

I don’t know if it counts as a superpower, but it would be pretty cool to have a dæmon, like the characters in the His Dark Materials trilogy. It would be amazingly comforting to have a constant companion. I’m not sure what form mine would take though. If I could choose I’d have some sort of bird.

Failing that, pretty much any magical ability from Harry Potter. Transfiguration would be great – you could turn into an animal and sneak around to your heart’s content.

Which three books changed your life?

The Witches: I’m a massive Roald Dahl fan. I recently took my niece to see the musical of Matilda – I’d been waiting for her to be old enough for ages, because I wanted to go! I love the book of Matilda, but in terms of life-changing it has to be The Witches. I remember buying it from one of those book clubs that used to come round to your primary school in the pre-internet age. I don’t know exactly how old I was, but I remember getting to the part where the boy is trapped in the ballroom with the witches, and realising I was slightly too young to cope with this just yet! I sensibly put the book on the shelf for a few months until I felt ready to face the horror! In recent years I had the priviledge of studying the book with 11 year olds in Sweden, who loved it too. I got pretty good at doing the Grand High Witch’s voice while reading aloud to them!

To Kill a Mockingbird: I’ve read so many books, but I’m generally very bad at remembering what happens in them! TKaM stays with me because I studied it for GCSE, so naturally I read it very many times, and my copy is annotated in various different coloured pens to represent the different themes. It’s a fantastic book, and I really enjoyed studying it. It’s probably what inspired me to go on to do A level and eventually degree level English Literature. The characters and morals are so strong; they really speak to you as a teenager incensed by the injustice of the world.

Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy: At university I studied English Literature and Language. I was tempted to put the Norton Anthology of English Literature on this list (in tribute to the late MH Abrams) but I can’t honestly say that I read it from cover to cover! I found at times that studying ‘serious’ literature could get a bit heavy. I remember going through a bit of a tough time in my second year, getting stressed about nothing, as you can easily do when you’re a student. Douglas Adams had recently passed away, and my aunt and uncle bought me the commemorative ‘trilogy’ box set for Christmas. Never having been particularly into sci-fi, I was a bit sceptical at first, but I loved it. H2G2 is my favourite book, because it helps you put things into perspective. It’s humorous, irreverent and life-affirming.

Which literary figure would you like to be?
Jo March. She’s so gutsy. Actually I should have put Little Women in the previous category, but I ran out of space. I remember being about eleven or twelve, and my English teacher saying I should start to read adult books. I was a bit daunted by this, and went through a brief phase of not really knowing what to read. That summer my family went down to Devon in our caravan, and stayed at this beautiful campsite in the grounds of an old hall, which had a library. Campers were allowed to borrow books. That was when I discovered Little Women, which felt quite grown up to me at the time. There were some tough parts to deal with, but overall I really enjoyed it. Reading that book marked a transition for me into adolescence, and it gave me the confidence to read other ‘adult’ classics.

What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
Well like many people I’ll be really intrigued to read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Also, the BBC have been trailing their adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell which looks fantastic. That was such a great book – incredibly atmospheric – so hopefully the adaptation will do it justice. And of course, as a massive Benedict fan, I can’t wait for the new series of Sherlock!

True Fact: Katie once discussed the assembly of Swedish flat-packed furniture with HRH the Countess of Wessex!

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Catherine Roney


What book are you reading at the moment?
Ok, I know I’m a little late with this one, but at the moment I’m reading the The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I can’t believe I haven’t read it sooner! Markus Zusak is a master storyteller and it’s been an incredible journey so far. Set in Germany during the Second World War, the story is narrated by Death himself, as he tells us the story of Liesel Meminger and her relationship with her foster parents and the other people in her neighbourhood. Although I know that there are some sad things on the way (Death lets us in on some of the big events) I’m still hoping that all will be ok for Liesel and some of the other characters in the end.

Which literary figure would you be?
Growing up, one of my favourite characters was Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables. She had a lot of imagination, was always having lots of adventures with her friends, and although she had a tough start in life, was able to overcome all odds and win everyone over. I always thought she sounded as though she’d be a lot of fun, and if I’m 100% honest I would also really like to have her auburn hair!

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book / comic character, what would you have?
I would love to be able to fly. It would be a fantastic way to get around, no more crowded tubes or trains, plus I would be able to just pop over to Australia to see my family whenever I felt like it (I would be able to fly really fast like Superman). Also, I’m not so keen on heights and being able to fly would definitely cure that.

If you could have written any book that exists now, which would it be?
The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society that is actually written by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. I loved this book and thought it was beautifully written. This is also the one book my mum wouldn’t lend me because she didn’t want to lose her copy, and now that I’ve read it I understand why! Set in January in 1946 in the aftermath of the Second World War, Juliet Ashton is a writer who has lost her home during the war and is now searching for a new adventure and something serious to write about. After unexpectedly receiving a letter from Dawsey Adams from the island of Guernsey, Juliet finds not only her next adventure but also an incredible story and some amazing people.

Who would you invite (and why) to your fantasy literary dinner party?
I would invite Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams and David Attenborough.
Enid Blyton – I have read nearly everything she has ever written and was a big fan growing up. From Noddy to the Famous Five, and not forgetting The Magic Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair, she was a prolific writer and I bet she’d have a lot to say.
Jane Austen – she would probably get invited to a lot of fantasy dinner parties as to this day she still has such a big fan following. I enjoyed reading her books and I think it would be interesting to hear what she would make of modern day life. I think she might get along very well with Enid Blyton!
Neil Gaiman – Stardust the movie made me want to start reading Neil Gaiman books (it is usually the other way around for me) and I started with none other than Stardust! Since then I’ve been slowly reading more of his work and I’ve enjoyed a lot of it. I think he’d be a bit of character with his vivid imagination and would make for an interesting guest
Douglas Adams – not only because he wrote the incredible Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series, but also because of his book Last Chance To See, which took him to some interesting places and so I think he’d probably have some great stories.
David Attenborough – someone else with great stories and also an incredible insight into how much the world has changed. He has been to some far flung destinations and encountered so many incredible things in our natural world, plus, he would be telling the stories in that amazing way he has. Maybe it wouldn’t be so fair to the other guests!

True fact: Growing up in Australia, Catherine once had a summer job working on the local tourist boat that took people out swimming with dolphins.

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Consultant in the Hot Seat – Karine Nicpon

Karine photo

Which literary figure would you be?
George (Georgina) from ‘The Famous Five’ series by Enid Blyton. She was my favourite character when I was a little girl because I was just like her, a bit of a tomboy and delighted every time someone mistook me for a boy! She is clever, brave and loyal with quite a hot temper. And she gets to live so many adventures and solve mysteries all the time. What a perfect childhood!

If you were given the chance to have one superpower from any book/comic character, what would you have?
Telekinesis, definitely! First because I’m terribly lazy. Then isn’t it the coolest superpower ever? Add telepathy to that, and I would make a much funnier Jean Grey! I wouldn’t die so many times to start with and I would probably dump Scott/Cyclops and his eye problem for Logan/Wolverine!

What book are you reading at the moment and what do you think of it?
I just finished Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. I saw the movie a few years ago and was already impressed by the desire for freedom expressed by the main character Holly Golightly. The book is so much more complex though. It is not only about freedom, it’s more about finding who she is and where she belongs. Holly Golightly is an incredibly modern character. Of course we can always find a way to identify ourselves with a character. But it is not surprising I guess if I was touched by this story when a year and a half ago I moved to England, looking for the same freedom and adventure as Holly (except that my idea of freedom is not a rich husband!). Capote’s writing is stunning too. I’ve never set a foot in New York and yet I could smell the heavy rainy afternoons of a late summer and the choking heat of the city. Completely fascinating!

What have been the highlights of the past year?
Moving to London! And getting this position at Atwood Tate. That was two massive changes in my life and I’m so glad I made the move.

Who would you invite to your fantasy literary dinner party?
Oscar Wilde, because apart from being the great author we all know, I imagine him as being the perfect guest: clever, funny, elegant, irreverent and decadent.

Miss Marple. I love old people, they always have a lot of interesting stories to tell. And she could find out all about the little secrets of the other guests. AND she could be extremely useful if someone gets killed (in the library with the candlestick).

Simone de Beauvoir, one of the greatest French thinkers, writers and philosophers of the 20th century. She did a lot for contemporary feminism and had quite an extraordinary life. Such an inspiration!

F. S. Fitzgerald, for the music of his writing, this fascinating, obsessive, haunting rhythm. When I finish reading one of his books, I’m always stuck in it for a ages. It’s like waking up very slowly from a delicate dream, like his words got tattooed on your skin… I’m a big fan.

Alex Turner! I know, he’s a musician. But also one of the best lyricists of his/my generation. To me his songs are so close to poems. And we do need a bit of rock’n’roll in this dinner!

True fact: I’m French. What else?

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Rachael Beale: Website Managing Editor

The latest publishing professional to brave Trial By Interview is Rachael Beale – Rachael is “Website Managing Editor” for the London Review of Books. What is that, I hear you ask? Well, read on and find out…

Rachael Beale

Rachael Beale has spent much of her career to date experimenting with combinations of words and technology, either writing for technical companies, or doing technical things for literary ones. Since joining the London Review of Books in 2007, Rachael has been involved in a number of innovative digital/literary projects, including ‘Kafka’s Wound’, the LRB’s contribution to the BBC/Arts Council-funded digital platform The Space. A dedicated follower of fiction, Rachael was a judge for the 2013 Costa First Novel Award, and has contributed to Fiction Uncovered, Booktrust and Belletrista . She read English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge before training as an editor.

Firstly, what does a “Website Managing Editor” actually *do*?
Primarily, planning and nagging. On the ‘planning’ side, I look at what’s coming up in terms of new titles we’re excited about, what’s going on in the wider cultural landscape, promotions in the retail space, and the Bookshop event programme (which is amazing, incidentally, and it’s well worth signing up to the email newsletter to receive advance notice). I also actively develop the Bookshop’s network of publisher and agent contacts, in an effort to identify, as far in advance as possible, great books that we think our audience would love, and that we could build into strong sellers.

Today, for example, I’ve been re-reading publishers’ autumn catalogues (and getting very excited about the enormous number of fantastic books due to be published in September). I began planning promotion for the autumn events schedule with our events manager, looking to see if we could build any mini-campaigns around combinations of books and events. And I caught up with an editor or two in my lunchbreak and at an evening event.

I’ll then work with our Bookshop manager to ensure that we have a regular flow of content onto the site to support and promote all of those activities. ‘Content’ can mean anything from a simple update of our bestseller list, up to author videos and podcasts. We aim for at least one new piece of content on the site daily.

The ‘nagging’ part is making sure that our plans are executed: identifying and commissioning writers (or writing copy myself), ensuring they deliver, editing copy, and managing publication on the site. In parallel, I work with our marketing team to ensure that they have what they need to support all of the above with online advertising, point-of-sale displays and promotions, banners, and so on.

Finally, I manage the development of any new and improved website functionality for the Bookshop; I also contribute to digital strategy development, including social media and email marketing, and carry out miscellaneous other production duties.

Would you describe yourself as a technical person who happens to understand the literary world, or a literary person who happens to understand technology?
I’d have to plump for the latter. In between my background and work experience, my skills in both areas are pretty much equivalent nowadays – but my heart lies with the words! I’d much rather pick up a book in the evenings than set up a new blog or splice together a video, just for the fun of it. Although I do still do quite a bit of reading-for-fun about technology…

I want to be you when I’m grown-up – what tips can you give someone who wants to make a career merging tech and publishing?
Look for opportunities, always (true of any kind of career shift). If you’re in publishing already and want to get more technical: codecademy.org has some fantastic free online courses for you to dip a toe into the programming waters and work out if it’s for you. Get your hands dirty – set up a blog and tinker with it constantly, even if you never actually write anything on it. Keep an eye on the Bookseller’s FutureBook site, and on their events programme; also the Literary Platform, Digital Book World for the US perspective, and Twitter – @Samatlounge has some really excellent lists of people writing, thinking and working at the intersection of books and technology, whose views are worth following (as are hers, clearly!).

If you’re coming from the technical side and wanting to break into publishing: publishing will be very happy to see you. Go to the conferences (again), and in particular look out for events like CultureHack and the recent Futurebook Hack; network like crazy – but be prepared to swallow a pay cut, unless you’re contracting on a project-by-project basis. Publishing and tech have slightly different salary scales.

Can you give an example of when something really simple to do/fix/update made a huge change?
When we launched the new London Review Bookshop website in November 2013, we overhauled the events system, integrating with Eventbrite. We decided to make our monthly late shopping evenings free but bookable events, so that we could have them appear on the calendar, rather than just mentioning them casually on a specific page on the website. We also decided to send out an email once a month advertising only the shopping evenings, and to put a little more effort into the presentation – usually theming them around a book or a currently-active retail promotion, and having food to match.

The results have been amazing. Bookings have been very strong – previously, we didn’t ask people to even let us know they were coming – and actual turnout likewise, but the really incredible thing has been the sales. Comparing equivalent evenings before and after the launch of the website and the introduction of this new approach, the sales uplift has frequently been several hundred percent. Just a little extra effort to make late shopping feel more welcoming and more ‘event-like’ has paid huge dividends, and the atmosphere on those evenings is wonderful: customers seem to really enjoy the experience. We’re experimenting over the summer with pushing the format a little further, with the Cake Shop selling ’small plates’ alongside late opening (the next of these ‘Happy Hour’ events is on 29 July 2014).

For your personal reading, do you prefer dedicated e-reader (kindle/kobo/etc), app-on-a-tablet, or printed book?
It always feels like a personal failing to admit it, given my job and digital experience, but I’m still overwhelmingly fond of real paper. I do read ‘actual’ books on my phone occasionally, but they tend to be heavily plot-driven YA or science fiction, or non-fiction (especially the popular kind). I’ve so far resisted buying a dedicated device, or even a tablet, as I am already utterly hopeless at travelling light without adding an extra gadget to my load. I also find that my mode of reading onscreen is heavily adapted to research: I skim and spot, rather than rolling around indulgently in a good sentence or five. Plus I read an awful lot of proof copies, and there aren’t as many publishers as one might like that currently offer ebook proofs (NetGalley’s efforts notwithstanding).

What book characters would you invite to your fantasy literary dinner party?
Frederica Potter from A.S. Byatt’s quartet of novels beginning with The Virgin in the Garden, and Ally Moberley from Sarah Moss’s Bodies of Light, because I think they’d have loads to talk about. Lemony Snicket (come on, he’s a book character really) and the Queen (as imagined by Alan Bennett in The Uncommon Reader) could trade book recommendations to their heart’s content. Ann Burden from Z for Zachariah, Anna Wetherell from The Luminaries, Billy Lynn from the eponymous Long Halftime Walk, and Arthur Dent from the Hitchhiker’s Guide all deserve a bit of a break and a nice dinner. Arthur would have to make the tea, though, since he’s so fussy about it.

Thank you so much, Rachael, for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to tell us more about what you do.
Rachael can be found on Twitter as @FlossieTeacake, the London Review of Books is @LRB, and the Bookshop is @LRBBookshop

In London on the 29th of July? Why not pop along to the July Happy Hour. Not subscribed to the LRB yet (and why not?) this could be the perfect chance as they are running a subscription co-promotion with The Paris Review. Follow #readeverywhere on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to see all the unusual places the two publications are read in! There is also a Facebook page:

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