Tag Archives: publishing

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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Frankfurt Book Fair 2019

It is only a week to go until the start of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2019, so we’ve put together a collection of top tips and things to do and see while you’re there! These suggestions are aimed at anyone attending, whether you’re coming as a student, publishing professional, job-seeker or just trying to increase your knowledge of the publishing and media industry. Even if you’re an annual attendee at the event, we’ve got some ideas for you!

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Plan your time in advance: there will be many conferences and events throughout the day so it is important that you check the schedule in order to see what events might interest and benefit you the most. It is a huge venue with plenty going on, so by planning your time well, you’ll be able to get the most out of the fair! Do also use the hall plan to avoid getting lost!
  • You will be meeting clients and important contacts, so you do want to be smart and ladies might be tempted to wear heels, but trust me, you will most definitely regret this decision. The Frankfurt exhibition centre is huge and the book fair is spread across several halls, so you will for sure be on your feet all day. Wear flat shoes or shoes that are comfortable. Of course dress code varies but you can never go wrong with business casual, a pair of flat clean shoes or boots will keep you comfy throughout the day!
  • Considering it’s an all-day event and you might well be using your phone to contact colleagues, show clients clips and perhaps be taking plenty of photos and videos yourself, bring a portable phone charger! Download the Frankfurter Buchmesse App for a convenient guide around the fair as well as a timetable of the event. Do take pictures of impressive stands you like as a reminder to yourself, but most definitely share them on social media too!
  • As this is the biggest international event of the year for the publishing industry, there’ll be a lot of people and food stalls and stands will have queues! So remember to carry a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated! Bring a snack if you’re super organised. It’s very easy to get hot and dehydrated in big events, to avoid the long queues and high prices at the cafes!

Lastly, although you are out in Frankfurt for the Book Fair, it’s also important to plan some chill-out time, so that you don’t get overwhelmed! Walking around all day or keeping a constantly cheerful face on for your back to back meetings is exhausting. Frankfurt is a beautiful city in the centre of Germany and there is plenty to see and do to escape for a little while! Take some time before arriving to see what there is around and see if there is an alternative venue that you can escape to to, whether that be cultural things to do and see or places to eat and drink in peace! This is a tough event for anyone prone to anxiety in crowds, so be prepared and look out for friends and colleagues who might be struggling a bit.

Here is a list of places you might like to visit near/around the venue:

  • If you get a tired of the traditional German food, this traditional Japanese restaurant called Mangetsu, offers great Japanese food and is a great place to go if you’re in need of some quiet space.
  • The heart of Frankfurt is The Römerberg: Frankfurt’s Old Town Centre, this town centre is filled with traditional buildings, a very picturesque square that will look amazing in photos!
  • The Palm Garden is the largest botanic garden in Germany, so it is definitely worth seeing if you have the time. I’m sure the garden will look fantastic during the Autumn season!

For more places to visit around Frankfurt click here!

Make sure to check what events are going on throughout the fair and which companies are attending!

Byte the Book is networking at the book fair this year and are offering Networking Drinks on October 16th in the fair from 9pm till late! This will be a great opportunity to meet some new people from the media and publishing industry and would be great to broaden your knowledge on both industries! For more information on the event click here!

In case you weren’t aware Norway is the guest of honour this year so to honour that we’ve decided to share some of our favourite Norwegian reads:

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

Harry Hole thrillers series by Jo Nesbo

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

We look forward to seeing you all post about the event, do keep in contact via our Twitter, tweet us pictures and information about the event we’ll be glad to hear from you!

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How to Convey the Value of Your Transferable and Soft Skills to Prospective Employers!

What are soft skills? Soft skills are defined as character traits or interpersonal aptitudes that effect the ability to work and interact with others in a work environment. We most often learn soft skills at school, in the classroom, directly or indirectly.  They are not always “people skills” but are abilities relating to emotional intelligence and can be useful for all industries and job types.

Examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Problem-Solving
  • Work Ethic
  • Adaptability
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Time Management
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail

Hard skills unlike soft skills are more job specific skills that are usually acquired through education or training. They are based solely on technical knowledge. Hard and soft skills complement each other in the workplace: hard skills reflect whether you would be suitable for the job and the technical skills it requires, whereas soft skills are unique and personal as they reflect the way you deal with situations specific to a work environment or the role for which you are applying.

“94% of recruiters believe that soft skills outweigh experience… 75% of recruiting professionals have cut an interview short because a candidate didn’t demonstrate the soft skills needed for the position they had applied for.”–Forbes

Soft skills distinguish you from other employees as they are unique to your individual personality. They also tend to highlight your leadership skills and this is what employers most often look at. There are many ways that you can show off your soft skills to your employer, generally this is usually over face-to-face interviews. Using examples is a brilliant way to show off your soft skills as you can demonstrate how valuable your skills really are and how these have aided you in many difficult work situations. For example, it is particularly important that when asked questions about difficult work situations you cleverly answer with how it got solved or what you would do differently next time rather than just stating the final result.

Here are some examples of common soft skills and their DOs and DONTs:

Team Work & Collaboration

  • Avoid ‘I’s’ and use more ‘We’s’.
  • Make sure to mention team accomplishments as well as personal ones, how you contributed to team effort.

Perseverance & Dedication

  • Show confidence in why you made certain decisions.
  • Emphasise your passion and dedication to work, as it is a reflection of your work ethic.
  • Give examples that reflect your perseverance to accomplish anything, both work problems and personal work goals.

Time Management & Organisation

  • Time management is a clear representation of how efficiently you work.
  • It reflects an organised candidate, who shows how passionate and seriously they want the role!
  • If you have good time management skills, it reduces the likelihood of stress within the workplace.

Problem Solving

Describe how you solved a problem step by step e.g. “First I spoke to my manager and then…”

Soft Skills in Publishing

Now that you know all about soft skills, which of these will be the most important when you are applying and interviewing for a role in publishing?

Effective communication and emotional intelligence are important in the world of publishing. It is important to understand the mood, tone and the values of those around us. Fair and consistent communication is essential; being able to asses and attend to emotional needs is integral to gaining understanding.

Openness and honest are also very important. For those just starting a career in publishing it is imperative to be open to the entire experience being a learning process. Being honest in saying ‘I need help’/’I’m not good at that’ shows your interviewer/employer that you do struggle but are willing to learn and grow within those personal struggles.

Finally, learning with agility is another key soft skill in publishing; everything is a trial and error both in life and in the world of work. It is okay to fail in work tasks as long as you’re learning quickly. Persevering demonstrates your potential and growth in character. Always strive for better and work proactively within your job. You may find that in publishing certain traditions are kept, but all businesses look ahead, so having employees who are equally forward thinking helps the industry to grow! For more information on transferable soft skills click here!

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Summer Reads!


A seemingly perfect crime, what can go wrong? A couple honeymooning in paradise find something in the water. Deciding to keep it a secret, they think they are the only ones who know about the discovery. They soon find out that their actions have deadly consequences and someone else knows their secret. A good thriller and the perfect summer book that hooks you in right from the very first page.

At the heart of this gripping read are a trio of brothers, a disappearance and a lack of suspects. Set in the Australian outback, this atmospheric thriller is not one to be missed this summer.

`One of the year’s most unmissable debuts’. Queenie’s life seems to be spiralling out of control, a family that don’t understand her, a boss that doesn’t seem to notice her and a man she can’t get over. Queenie is a character you will be rooting for from the first page.

A story of love and war. The Biafran War is told from the perspective of three characters whose lives are interwoven in ways they would not have imagined. This novel is great if you love to immerse yourself in historical fiction with compelling and intelligent characters.

Non-fiction that stirs the desire to make change. Mainly aimed at black women but plenty to take away for everyone. A read that will make you challenge your assumptions and think about `space’ in different contexts and ways.

May not be the typical relaxing holiday reading but worth it! Set post world war ll, a woman with financial inheritance attempts to build economic prosperity in a small community in Australia where her romantic interest lives.

Some more summer reading tips:

http://ow.ly/AS2z30pcRlBh

http://ow.ly/M3hp30pcRnR

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Welcome to the team Azraa!

Azraa has joined Atwood Tate as our new administrator where she will be supporting the permanent team! Azraa will be supporting our consultants by carrying out key admin duties. Recently completing her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and with a keen interest in the publishing industry and a love for books, Azraa was drawn to us!

What is your favourite book series?

My all-time favourite book series is the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare!

What is your dream destination?

My dream destination is to visit Bali!

If you could have dinner with anyone dead/alive who would it be?

I would have dinner with Margaret Atwood because I’m a huge fan of her work, I think she’s very inspiring and would be an interesting dinner date!

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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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Social Media and Job Searching

All of us are on one form of social media or the other, right? The same goes for publishing companies. By following publishing brands on social media, you can stay up to date with what is new. For example, what is the latest book they published? Are they involved in any debates or discussion? When it comes to an interview situation this knowledge will be useful in informing your answers and in building a rapport with your interviewer.

We all check our social media regularly, but we do not check an advertising website or company website as regularly. We as a recruitment agency also post all our jobs on social media; you may come across our social media post before you check a job board.  Therefore, you can be on the ball and send your application in as soon as you can. This is especially true of work experience and internship opportunities, which are often posted on social media first.

Publishing events (which can sometimes be hard to find) are also advertised on social media. Recruitment agencies such as ourselves, along with companies such as SYP and The Bookseller share all publishing events. You can find an events calendar on our website here: https://blog.atwoodtatepublishingjobs.co.uk/events/

To develop a career in publishing it is also important to showcase yourself online. For example, you want to break into editorial; do you run a blog or a podcast? Do you write book reviews? This kind of activity will support your applications.

Debates and discussions that occur on social media are also an advantage to your job search. For example, we hold online Q&A sessions twice a month on different job roles and sectors in publishing. You can ask us anything from what skills you need for a certain role to how to transfer your skills to another sector.

If you are worried about protecting your privacy online there are small things, you can do. There are tools such as Instagram direct where you can choose who can see your latest posts. You can also choose to make a post private. On twitter you can have your tweets as `public’ or `private’. On Facebook you can also limit who sees your posts and control your timeline. This means you can be active on social media to a following of your choosing and give evidence of your work or skills if required.

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10 Dos and Don’ts of CV Writing

Are you putting off writing or editing your CV? One of the most commonly asked questions we get is about the format of CV’s. To help you along with your CV writing process we have written a summary of our top 10 dos and don’ts of CV writing!

Dos:

  • Keep your CV at two pages max (we know it is hard!). You need to demonstrate you can prioritise relevant information with the content you provide
  • Introduce yourself in a personal statement at the top of the page, including your skills and what you are looking for in a few sentences
  • Include your contact details and a link to your LinkedIn profile
  • Save your CV in a word doc or PDF in the format `full name and CV’  
  • Set out the dates of your employment, the company and your position clearly with accurate spacing
  • You can include a brief description of the company you worked for, followed by bullet points to present your achievements, using figures and stats where necessary (use power words!)
  • The education and employment sections should be in reverse chronological order. You can include a `relevant experience’ section
  • Have a skills section highlighting any IT and language speaking skills. You can also include any courses/training, driving skills or leadership skills that are relevant
  • Choose a professional font, one that is easily read and looks good when printed or scanned
  • Important: Be meticulous in your spelling and grammar!

Don’ts:

  • Avoid long, chunky looking paragraphs (white space is your friend!)
  • List all of your GCSEs/O-Levels or every module from your degree, just those related to the job you are applying for
  • Experiment with size (making the text bigger to fill the space/smaller to fit) or wacky colours and fonts
  • DOB, picture and marital status are not necessary
  • Use acronyms, technical terms or clichés (instead demonstrate clichés such as `hard worker’ in your experience and achievements)
  • Use personal pronouns
  • Include irrelevant skills and work experience (not including them will not decrease your chance of getting the job!)
  • Explain why you left every single position. You can cover this at interview, but also in your covering letter.  If you are not currently in employment and want to explain why, put a brief note in your covering letter.  If you are applying through an agency, be transparent with them and they can help you to explain.  If you have done a series of fixed term contracts, putting “fixed term contract” next to the job title will signal that this is why you haven’t stayed longer in the role
  • Submit your CV with unprofessional email addresses or names
  • Lie! With a simple search a lie can be found out and this won’t go down well with your interviewer

Extra Tip: Don’t leave gaps.  Account for any gap years/sabbaticals or times out of work, but briefly and without it becoming distracting.  If you omit something, it will raise more questions than a brief sentence accounting for the gap.

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Consultant in the Hot Seat: Stephanie Hall


Stephanie has recently re-joined us at Atwood Tate after working as an internal recruiter at HarperCollins for four and a half years, managing all the recruitment across the different sites and at all levels. Stephanie worked at Atwood Tate from 2012-2014 and has returned to look after Editorial (non B2B & Professional); Production; Design and Operations outside London and the Home Counties.

What do you love about working in publishing?

I love the people, which is handy for being a recruiter! I consistently find the people in the industry to be interesting, friendly people. It can feel like quite an insular industry when you’re first starting out, but people are usually willing to chat and because people never seem to leave publishing once they’re in, you get to build great relationships with people over time. I have candidates that I placed in 2012 that I’m still in touch with!

What is your favourite book/play/poem or author?

I don’t have a favourite book anymore, I don’t think… I’ve probably read all of Judy Blume’s books several times each and find going back to them incredibly comforting, but if we’re judging favourite books by number of times read, at the moment it’s the That’s Not My… series. We’re currently very into locating and identifying our monkeys, dinosaurs, llamas, pirates and kittens at home. Otherwise, I’ve recently re-read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele,: A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions which I would highly recommend to anyone, not just parents. It has some brilliant suggestions on how to raise an inclusive and strong kid and all my friends now have a copy.

Who is your hero?

Frida Kahlo. I really admire her resilience and ability to turn any setback into something creative (and profitable!). She was all the things I want to be when I grow up: strong, brave, honest, successful in her own right, unashamedly feminist, generous with her time and most importantly, able to stomach a lot of tequila. I think I have better taste in husbands though!

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

The ability to control time – to pause it, speed it up, slow it down. I genuinely don’t understand anyone that would want a different power. I could pause time during the night to get more sleep or have a lie in, slow time down when I’m running late (I hate to be late!) and speed it up when time is dragging and I’m getting impatient. What more could you want?

If you could share a meal with anyone, who would it be?

Oprah. I think she’d be fascinating to talk to and would have some absolutely exceptional gossip about other people, as well as some really interesting experiences and incredible achievements of her own that I’d like to ask about. And if the conversation runs dry, we can chat about the episode of 30 Rock that she’s in, which is one of my favourites.

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Brexit for employers and job seekers

Our industry body, the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) is working hard to help us prepare for Brexit, whatever the outcome.

We are keeping abreast of the latest developments so that we can update you on how an outcome will affect us and employment in the UK generally.

There is a lot of advice for employers from the Government, but I think this link is probably the clearest and most useful as a starting point: https://euexitbusiness.campaign.gov.uk/

There are links on this page to a number of useful publications and resources suitable for Candidates who are wondering what the situation will be for them.

  1. If you are an EU national and you want to continue living in the UK: https://www.gov.uk/staying-uk-eu-citizen
  2. If you are an UK Citizen in the EU: https://www.gov.uk/uk-nationals-living-eu
  3. New EU citizens arriving in UK will be able to stay 3 months before applying for a visa. Following this you will get remain for 36 months.

The key message is: Don’t worry if you’re already working here in the UK, you will be able to stay!

But you will need to make an application – the EU Settlement Scheme will open by 30 March 2019 and you will be able to apply until 30 June 2021, provided you were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020.

5 years’ residence will lead to settled status with a bridging pre-settled status for new arrival.

If you do have questions, please do get in touch with us and we can clarify on some of this advice and hopefully point you in the right direction!

Other HMRC links:

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