An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘bookseller’

Introducing Bookseller Rising Star Tom Bonnick

I was really quite lucky to interview Tom Bonnick, Business Development Manager at the very successful publishing house Nosy Crow. Tom has recently been named a Bookseller Rising Star, and he describes this experience, as well as his newest projects and developments, in this interview below.

Rising Star Tom Bonnick

Rising Star Tom Bonnick

Please introduce yourself to my readers and give an overview of your career so far.

I’m the business development manager at Nosy Crow, where I’ve worked for the past four years. It’s quite a wide-ranging role: I work on all of our digital and audio publishing, web development, digital marketing and social media, event planning, and other kinds of new business.

How did you go about securing the internship that lead to your employment at Nosy Crow?

Largely through luck and good timing! I discovered Nosy Crow through Twitter when they were very small and new – they hadn’t published any books yet at that stage – and sent an email asking if I could meet them. I did a few weeks’ work experience with them in 2011, when I’d come home to London intending to revise for my final exams, and then after I’d sat the exams I came straight back and never left!

How did it feel to be named as a BookSeller Rising Star?

It was a very happy surprise. I was particularly touched by this blogpost that my boss, Kate Wilson, wrote about the news: http://nosycrow.com/blog/tom-bonnick-is-a-rising-star

What are the biggest challenges in organising a real-world publishing event, and equally what’s the most rewarding part?

I am hugely ill-suited to event-planning: I feel constant anxiety in the weeks leading up to an event that one of any number of things will go wrong (not selling enough tickets, a speaker not turning up, technology failing, or worst of all, the wine running out) and so I suppose the biggest challenge is simply coping with the stress. The most rewarding part probably comes afterwards, once the event is over!

Can you tell us a little bit about the culture and working environment at Nosy Crow?

It’s an incredible company to work for: it is filled with people who are immensely creative, intelligent and passionate about what they do.

Nosy Crow has become very popular and successful in recent years. What are some of the factors that you would attribute this to?

I think our size and independence are important: being small means that we’re able to act and make decisions quickly, and being independent not only allows us to experiment with new ideas, but also means that we have to absolutely believe in every book and app that we publish. Most importantly, we work with absolutely amazing authors and illustrators to make incredible books.

Why are digital skills so important in today’s publishing industry?

Well, it depends what kinds of digital skills you mean – that’s quite a broad question! Does using a computer count? Using Twitter? Sending email? Creating eBooks? Learning to code? Some digital skills are certainly more important than others. There are some areas of the industry where we’ve become entirely reliant on digital technology; where none of us could cope without a basic digital awareness, but I don’t think everyone absolutely NEEDS to be able to build an eBook, for instance. That being said, I do think that it’s probably worthwhile to have a shot at using Twitter, particularly if you work at a trade publisher.

On the Book Seller site, you stated that your new role is “about looking at ways to expand your audience outside the usual channels.” Can you give us an example of how doing this has been particularly successful for yourself and Nosy Crow? What new channels are you especially excited about?

For all of the anxiety that they cause, I am still really excited about the potential of the events that we’ve begun holding in the last couple of years, like our conference and masterclasses: they are such a fantastic way of meeting new readers, parents, aspiring authors and other children’s book enthusiasts. We’ve just announced the launch of the Nosy Crow Illustrator Salon (http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nosy-crow-illustrator-salon-steven-lenton-tickets-17392805349), which I’m particularly looking forward to, and our next Masterclasses (most have now sold out, but there are a few tickets left for this one, on Writing Children’s Fiction: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-to-write-childrens-fiction-a-nosy-crow-masterclass-october-2015-tickets-17307342728) are shaping up very well.

Finally, what advice do you have for other interns looking to begin their careers in the publishing industry?

Look for somewhere new, small and interesting! I am biased, of course, but I think that starting a career at somewhere like Nosy Crow is a great way of learning a lot about the industry: you can see what goes on in every part of the company, there’s a lot of potential for career development, and it’s exciting to watch a publishing house grow from something tiny into something formidable.

As always, please post questions or comments below and I will get them answered!

An interview with FutureBook founder Sam Missingham

Anyone who knows anything about the publishing world know that an interview with Sam Missingham is a Big Deal. Having worked for publishing giants such as the Bookseller, FutureBook and HarperCollins, she has forged an immensely successful and influential career in publishing and marketing within the books industry.

I’ve been an admirer and follower of Sam’s for a while now and I was very excited when she agreed to undertake this interview for my blog.

The lovely Sam Missingham

The lovely Sam Missingham

Can you give my readers a brief overview of your career so far?

 Sure.

I’ve spent the vast amount of my career working in magazine publishing. I started at a very small company that published financial technology titles. I learned a huge amount working in a small business with a very entrepreneurial boss. He taught me a few simple but important things – everyone in the company should be able to answer the phone & give a decent answer to any question about the business, also, pretty much every call coming into a business is a sales opportunity – if you understand everything that you sell.

I then worked at Centaur on many of their B2B magazines, including Marketing Week, Creative Review and New Media Age. I launched their community site MAD.co.uk (for marketing, advertising & design professionals). This is where I learned about building audiences/communities and the various ways you can get people to pay for content. And yes I was MAD Marketing Manager for a while 😉

 I took a career break to have my daughter, move town & divorce (why not do all of it at the same time, right?). I then worked for several years as a freelancer/consultant, always working on circulation & subscription strategy work. I worked on consumer magazines at Future Publishing on titles about weddings, cars, photography & design.

Seven years ago I was offered temporary freelance work on The Bookseller, where I stayed for 5 years. This was the most fulfilling 5 years of my career, mostly due to falling in love with the book business and being part of the industry while it transformed so dramatically. I launched the FutureBook community, blog, conference and awards while I was there which I am still very proud of.

One of the most exciting moments of my professional life, was when Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins’ CEO offered me a job running events. Until that point I had NO experience in books, so I appreciate the leap of faith he made employing me. I have now been at HarperCollins for 18 months and I genuinely believe I have the best job in publishing. My remit is to come up with engaging events and campaigns across our entire list to put more books into more hands. Doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

 You originally studied maths and Russian at university. What lead you down the publishing and marketing career path?

Oh I forgot to mention above that I was also a spy for the KGB for a while. Kidding aside, I enjoyed studying Maths & Russian and although I haven’t used either of them directly, logic and arithmetic are useful skills to have in marketing. I didn’t exactly choose my career in magazines – I graduated in a horrible recession and it was the only job I could get. No regrets.

I genuinely believe I have the best job in publishing

Over the years and in your many marketing roles in the industry, what are some of the biggest changes youve experienced?

 I suppose the most significant and seismic shift would obviously be the Internet. I worked on a magazine charting the very start of the Internet around 1996, a time when businesses were launching websites for the first time. So, everything that has followed; email, ecommerce, social, apps etc. Hard to imagine now.

Youve won and been nominated for a number of big industry awards. Can you possibly pick one or two that you are most proud of and/or most touched by and explain why?

 Well, I’m proud of all of them. But being runner-up for the Pandora award for outstanding contribution to publishing takes some beating. Also, I was a runner-up to Dame Marjorie Scardino. How cool is that?

In your view, what role has social media and digital played in attracting more people to reading and the industry? Why has it been so effective?

 Wow, not sure I can do that question justice as the impact is so huge and varied. In very simple terms, social media has removed the barriers/gate keepers between readers and authors. It has also facilitated an open and engaged conversation amongst all book-lovers. Authors can now talk directly to librarians, bookshops to agents, book marketers to readers. There is certainly still a way to go for publishers to fully maximise the opportunity social offers, but that’s the fun and challenge of continual change.

 In terms of digital, it would be impossible for me to understate the impact Amazon has had on the book business. Not least creating an ebook ecosystem that actually worked. They are a phenomenally impressive business, a week hardly goes by where they haven’t launched a new program, service or tech innovation.

Digital has had impact across all areas of our business in areas too many to mention; in no particular order, significant shifts in the last 7 years: the Ipad, apps, Wattpad, KDP, mobile, YouTube – the list goes on

For those unfamiliar with virtual events  how do they work and what are the benefits? What have been particularly successful and challenging about the ones you’ve launched?

Yes, these have been great fun. The virtual festivals replicate literary festivals, but are delivered on social media. I have organised virtual festivals in romance, crime and SciFi, delivering engaging programs for readers/fans. I suppose the thing that is significant about these festivals is that they are publisher-agnostic, open and inclusive and global – everyone is welcome. As far as know, no other publisher has run events/campaigns where they have included other publisher, organisations and indie authors. My view is we all have the same aim – more books into more hands and working together genuinely puts the reader at the heart of what we’re doing. How many readers buy books from just one publisher, for example?

There have been a few highlights during these festivals, one being Margaret Atwood’s Twitter Q&A – she is a goddess. We also had Agatha Christie’s publisher answering questions about what it’s like to publish the Queen of Crime. Fab.

You have worked as Head of Events & Marketing for two of the biggest publishing organisations in the UK today The Bookseller and FutureBook. What has been the most rewarding part of these experiences?

Launching FutureBook and building an engaged community as the book industry transformed. During this time I made many friends across the industry, many of whom were gracious and supportive when quite frankly I knew nothing.

 Most rewarding part of publishing? The people, by a mile.

In very simple terms, social media has removed the barriers/gate keepers between readers and authors.

How important is collaboration in this industry?

 Extremely, as mentioned in my previous question. A rising tide lifts everyone, yes?

How does it feel to be a huge influencer in the publishing industry and what qualities do you feel are essential for a person to become successful in this area?

 Huge influencer is overstating things. The qualities I try to bring are enthusiasm, a genuine passion for books and the business, a broader interest in news and trends with a little irreverence, perhaps. One thing I am particularly passionate about is supporting students and people at the early stage of their careers. I see that has my responsibility and also very rewarding. Nothing better than seeing someone fly.

What would your advice be to someone interested in the industry in terms of attending literary and publishing events?

 Id recommend you attend London Book Fair  lots of free events and also talk to people in the coffee queue. Making contacts is the NUMBER ONE thing that will help you at every stage of your career. Also, Byte The Book, Book Machine and SYP all run excellent events throughout the year.

Youve worked on both newsletters, magazines and now books. How important do you feel working on a variety of publication types to be when building a publishing career?

 Not sure the publication types is the important bit. What is more valuable is working in different types of businesses. As I have said many times, retail experience is extremely useful, particular bookshops. But honestly, the skills you learn dealing with customers directly cant be underestimated. I grew up in a flower shop and also spent many years working in shoe shops and waitressing.

Working in other entertainment and digital businesses would also be useful. My philosophy is that no skills are ever wasted, so gain as much experience as possible.

Who are some of your favourite and more approachable authors and publishers that you have worked with and why?

I had the privilege of running an event with George RR Martin & Robin Hobb last summer. One of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Spending an evening with George RR was how I imagine hanging out with Mick Jagger would be. A total rock star. He invited all of the Game of Thrones cosplayers back to his room after the event – you’d could see the real connection with his fans. Robin was an absolute delight too.

 On Twitter, there are a number of authors I think rock; Ian Rankin, Joanne Harris, Jill Mansell, Lindsey Kelk to name a few.

You can follow Sam on Twitter: @samatlounge

Check out The Bookseller and Futurebook sites.

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