Women In Publishing – Meeting on Marketing

What a week of Marketing?! On Monday we had Byte the Book #bytethebook and Wednesday we had Women In Publishing where the fantastic Sophia Blackwell and Vicky Hartley shared with us their approach to marketing, their reflections on its evolution and their predictions on its future. The power of marketing has truly taken the publishing industry by a storm but what is it about marketing that makes it so fascinating to us?

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From hearing the speakers’ stories, their successes and lessons over a career of campaigns, it initially seems that the same model or marketing strategy cannot be replicated, we can’t rely on it time and time again and sometimes we just don’t know why a campaign works so well. Which can be frustrating but also fascinating – it’s an enigma! Sometimes a campaign just clicks with the public and it gives us such a sense of brilliance that we want to try again and again to make that happen and slowly but surely we are totally consumed by author tours and direct campaigns.

Well that’s one view. It’s a valid view too but perhaps a, how do I say…. traditional view? As publishers we love books and stories so much that we want to believe that the magic of the tale captures the heart of the public so very much that it’s like a spell has been cast over us and we realise that we were all born with one true aim – to read Gone Girl.

Vicky Hartley certainly believes in story telling but her stories are marketing narratives. Does she need to even read the book she’s marketing? Not necessarily, she is gripped by her own plot. The content, not the book, drives the campaign and is the main character. Other characters could include social media, other products, re-purposed versions of the content, emails, above the line advertising…. They are all functioning for the purpose of the main character’s development and success, to get the content to its denouement as a top seller.

Sophia Blackwell positively “facepalms” at her former self, a budding marketer ready to tackle the publishing industry one campaign at a time, innocently oblivious to the importance of data. This was right at the beginning of her career of course and now we have before us a marketing data evangelist. With data you can know why campaigns work and why they don’t and you can make them work better. With data you can link sales figures with customer behaviour, surely the very essence of marketing. Information is power and marketing intelligence is the faculty of our industry.

Whether you are creating your own story through marketing or interrogating data, it seems that marketing isn’t such an enigma. It actually is a tool of control for us which used by the right hands can construct an efficient and strong bridge between book and reader.

 

Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter.

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The Kim Scott Walwyn Prize 2014

Last night we attended the coveted Kim Scott Walwyn prize giving at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon where we joined some of the most influential people in the publishing industry to celebrate extraordinary women in publishing. The prize was established in memory of Kim Scott Walwyn, a ground-breaking Publishing Director at Oxford University Press who died in 2002 at only 45 years of age. The prize is aimed at young women who have achieved great things within publishing and have really added value and innovation to the publishing industry.

We heard from the Booktrust, The Society of Young Publishers and the Publishing Training Centre followed by a keynote speech from the incredible Victoria Barnsley, former CEO of HarperCollins. In her speech, Victoria reminded us that with increased recruitment from outside of the publishing industry, particularly from technology companies, that the industry’s progress on gaining that gender balance is slowing and has almost come to a complete halt. She highlighted three key points that publishers need to address to maintain the gender balance and to keep being successful. Firstly, companies need to be more gender diverse when it comes to their boards – there is proof that this makes a company more financially successful; secondly, businesses need to be more flexible and thirdly, they need to be less ageist; there is a huge pool of women over the age of 50 who want to get back into work who have great experience and ideas for the current publishing market.

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The shortlist was absolutely fantastic and the nominees were:

Melissa Cox – Children’s New Titles Buyer, Waterstones

Lynsey Dalladay – Community Manager, Penguin Random House

Sarah Hesketh – Freelance Project Manager & Events and Publications Manager, The Poetry Translation Centre

Hellie Ogden – Literary Agent, Janklow & Nesbit

Anne Perry – Editor, Hodder & Stoughton

Congratulations to the whole shortlist and particularly to Anne Perry, for winning the prize! Anne is such a wonderful example to us all of being innovative and really taking the lead on new initiatives, particularly through her championing of genre fiction. A fantastic example of this is The Kitschies, genre awards for speculative and fantasy fiction that she and her husband created. It was a particularly special moment as Anne’s mother, visiting from the USA, was able to attend and share in her daughter’s achievements – I’m not sure there were many dry eyes in the room at this point! It was a great evening and we are truly thankful to have been able to be a part of such an inspiring celebration of talented women in publishing.

AP KSW 2014Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter.

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Women in Publishing – Production Speaker’s Event

On Wednesday evening, we braved the cold to attend the well known Women in Publishing monthly speaker event. This time the meeting was focussed around Production; its past, present and future and accordingly, Women in Publishing lined up two fantastic guest speakers: Fiona Mcintosh, Group Production Director at Orion Publishing Group and Louise Morrin Boyle, the former Vice President of Production at Haymarket Media in New York.

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Fiona kicked off the discussions and with a career that began in the late seventies, she was able to give a great overview of production through the decades and how the major advancements in technology have affected production processes and continue to do so today. According to Fiona, the biggest change has been in the physicality of the job; processes are now far more focussed on digital as well as increasing the overall efficiency and speed of completing projects. Whilst the processes and the end products have changed and diversified, the emphasis is still on the content. With the onset of digital, the initial feeling was that one day eBooks and other platforms might be the end of print; it is clear that consumers still enjoy the physical book and the mix of print and digital seem to be beginning to balance each other out as the market matures and becomes accustomed to both mediums. Louise discussed how exciting production can be as it gives you the opportunity to get involved in so many different aspects of the publishing process. It offers the chance not only to work on the preparation of content for print and digital publication, but to also be at the forefront of driving innovation with regards to the type of media platforms engaged and to influence the platforms that will be developed for content publication in the future.

Fiona went on to discuss skills required for candidates getting into a production role; it is an area that is less publicised than other sectors of publishing but one that is hugely rewarding. Production departments are crying out for organised, innovative and personable problem solvers who want to help others and support the fantastic content being produced. Louise entered into the industry with an enthusiastic and willing to work hard attitude; she would highly encourage anyone looking to build a career in production to share this attitude. She extolled her experience with production departments describing how if you show this willingness to learn, you will be given the opportunity to grow with the department and continually develop your skills. She also added that the production department is often described as the ‘glue’ that pulls together all the different departments and individuals involved within the organisation to create the final product.

We are in such an exciting time within the industry at the moment, as Fiona pointed out, we are in the middle of that point that people will look back upon and say, ‘this is where everything changed’. This is our opportunity to make our mark and to influence the exciting future ahead in how people consume content for years to come.

For more information on production roles and to discuss the type of skills publishers are looking for, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via our website or at admin@inspiredselection.com.

Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about.  We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter

The Role of a Commissioning Editor

So what does a Commissioning Editor really do? Last night we attended the Women in Publishing event at the Hotel Strand Continental to hear Rukhsana Yasmin from Saqi and Kirsty Schaper from Bloomsbury talk about their experience as Commissioning Editors and tell us a little more about the tools and skills you really need to make the job a success.

Kirsty began her working life abroad teaching English as a foreign language; she came back to the UK and got a job at Continuum as an Editorial Assistant and worked her way up from there before making the move to work on the Sports non-fiction list at A & C Black, now Bloomsbury. It was really interesting to hear about the difference between commissioning for Academic and for Trade; with Academic publishing you can identify the persons qualifications and have their work peer reviewed but with Trade it becomes far more risky, you must quantify the qualifications of your authors within their field of expertise but also assess factors like marketability; Do they have a blog/twitter? How well known are they? Can they market their own brand? The most exciting thing about commissioning is finding an author who can become a bestseller.

Rukhsana came into publishing through an Arts Council programme to increase Diversity in Publishing through Saqi Books, she found that working in a smaller publisher gave her a wealth of experience and knowledge to take forward into her next role at Profile where she commissioned her first book; she is now Commissioning Editor for Saqi’s newly formed Westbourne Press and won the Kim Scott Walwyn prize last year.

A huge part of the role is market research and finding out where your competition is; this might involve doing focus groups or spending a lot of time on the internet (and trying not to get too distracted). Author care is also hugely important, you need to be able to nurture relationships but also be quite firm and ensure that the author is delivering on time in order to get the book published on schedule which also relies on the expertise and backing of other departments.

When choosing a proposal to commission, there are several things to consider:

–          What does a good proposal look like?

–          Structural breakdown

–          Target market

–          Are there any competing titles out there?

You must also consider whether the author can actually write and communicate their ideas effectively and whether the book is going to be commercially viable for your target market.

It is important to remember that publishing is still a business, as a Commissioning Editor you must be both creative and commercially minded and remember that the market is changing all the time; for example with the advance of digital – whilst eBooks are important, they are still only a small percentage of the market; people are drawn to what stands out, if you can turn a book into a beautiful object, people will buy them.

It seems that the role of a Commissioning Editor is hugely varied; it is both creative and commercial as well as relying enormously on building relationships and doing your research. Sometimes there is an element of risk taking but this is backed up by your market knowledge and the support from the rest of your team, and the best thing is that it could just be the gamble that pays off…