An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘penguin’

Introducing Head of Publisher Relations Karen Brodie

Today’s People in Publishing interview is with the very successful and impressive Karen Brodie, Head of Publisher Relations at The Reading Agency. I am such an admirer of the work that they do at The Reading Agency, and I’m very jealous of Karen for playing such a huge role in it! She’s worked extremely hard for what she’s achieved, and has been recognised for this hard work as a BookSeller Rising Star. Below, she discusses her work and her career journey in publishing.

Karen Brodie

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

I’m Head of Publisher Relations at The Reading Agency. I started in publishing in Edinburgh and then worked at HarperCollins and Penguin in the rights departments. I expanded my international experience at the British Council, working on literature projects overseas to strengthen cultural relations for the UK, including the first literature festival in Kurdish Iraq, a language-learning radio programme where I interviewed authors for broadcast across Africa and an Arabic-English translation conference. I moved to Istanbul to manage the Turkish partnerships and programme for Turkey Market Focus at The London Book Fair and stayed a second year in Turkey as Head of Arts, extending my arts experience to work on film, fashion, visual arts, music and digital projects. I returned to London with the Iran team to develop the British Council’s UK-Iran programme. Nine months ago I took the job at The Reading Agency. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had such interesting experiences and have met lots of inspiring people.

How did you come to work for The Reading Agency?

After returning to the UK, I was keen to reconnect with publishing. The role at The Reading Agency was a unique opportunity to bring together my literature background in both the private and public sectors. It was a challenging interview with stiff competition and I was so pleased to be offered the job.

Can you explain a little bit about your role and your responsibilities at The Reading Agency?

The Reading Agency is a national charity which specialises in inspiring more people to read more and encouraging them to share their enjoyment of reading with others. There’s a strong body of research to show that reading for pleasure improves wellbeing and empathy, and develops skills to support people throughout their lives. As Head of Publisher Relations I work with an excellent team developing and managing relationships with publishers and the wider industry to help us deliver The Reading Agency’s programmes for adults, young people and children.

We work with a huge variety of partners in the publishing industry and it’s my responsibility to identify and agree mutually beneficial partnerships across our programmes. The Reading Agency has a unique relationship with public libraries and I work to build and strengthen relationships between publishers and public libraries to reach more readers and find creative ways to promote authors. It’s a hugely varied role which includes managing commercial relationships and CSR relationships with publishers, developing our reading groups network, and contributing to the Radio 2 book club selection panels.

How did it feel, after all of your hard work, to be named a BookSeller Rising Star?

It was hugely encouraging and rewarding to be recognised by the industry for the contribution I’ve made to The Reading Agency in such a short time. And there’s still so much I’d like to do.

What would you say is the most rewarding about your job? What makes you feel like you’ve really made a big impact?

There are so many things! We have compelling evidence from participants in our programmes that The Reading Agency’s work has prompted attitudinal and behavioural change. It’s motivating to hear personal stories from people who have completed our Reading Ahead challenge or received a book given out on World Book Night. There are some examples here

I really enjoy finding ways to reach non-traditional audiences. I’m always excited about working with diverse partners and creating unique opportunities to reach new readers. It’s fantastic to get feedback from librarians, publishers or readers when a promotion has made a real impact.

Equally, what is the most challenging and why?

It can be a challenge to balance the needs and priorities of publishers, libraries and reading groups who operate in very different contexts. My role is to help our partners understand each other and facilitate meaningful collaborations. Although not all partnerships are straightforward, we all want to get more people reading and it’s this shared agenda that always prevails.

Once we get people reading we want to keep them reading and empower them to choose their own books, share their ideas and inspire others to read.

In what ways do libraries and publishers innately differ in terms of how they operate and how do you work to bridge that gap between the two? What would you say is the key to successful partnerships?

Although publishers largely have a commercial focus and libraries a cultural one, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive and both partners complement each other’s strengths. Both bring creativity, expertise and resources to every project. At The Reading Agency, we provide several opportunities throughout the year for our library and publisher partners to meet, exchange information, share ideas and plan promotions. The most successful partnerships develop when both partners are clear about what they want to achieve from the project, and are communicative and committed.

 What would you say are some of the key ways in which you and your company help attract people to reading?

 We work with public libraries, schools, colleges, workplace and prisons across the country to take reading into different places and help people find a way into reading for pleasure. Once we get people reading we want to keep them reading and empower them to choose their own books, share their ideas and inspire others to read.

We work with publishers to design and deliver fun, imaginative activities which encourage people to engage with books in new ways, discover new authors and genres, and make reading social so it becomes something shared with friends and family. Through our programmes we create promotions and events in the heart of communities and encourage volunteers to act as reading ambassadors, sharing their passion with others.

How can we, as people working in the book industry, help attract a wider audience?

We are all familiar with bookshops, libraries and the variety of stories and information available to read, but many non-readers feel overwhelmed by these.  We’re all passionate advocates for reading and are in the perfect position to support non-readers to find the right books to inspire them, and give them the confidence to talk more about books. For information about how individuals or companies can get involved in our work and reach new readers email info@readingagency.org.uk

As always, please leave questions and comments in the box below and we will get them answered for you!

Introducing Digital Marketer and ex-Editorial Assistant Lucy Houlden

Today’s interview is with Lucy Houlden, who used to work as an Editorial Assistant at my workplace Emerald Group Publishing. Funnily enough, we’ve never actually met in person, despite having formed a friendship online and knowing and working with many of the same people. She left Emerald a mere couple of weeks before I started. She noticed my new job role on LinkedIn and connected that way. Since meeting through Twitter, we’ve come to realise how similar our backgrounds and aspirations are. She’s an inspiration for me and further proof that coming from the North does not have to restrict your achievements in the publishing industry.

Lucy Houlden

Please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about your background and your career so far.

Hello, I’m Lucy. I live way up north in lovely Durham, which is a great place for anyone who enjoys the essentials in life (tea and cake!). I come from Lincolnshire, but I moved up to Newcastle to study English Language and Literature, with a plan to pursue a career in publishing. Since then, I’ve picked up lots of different experience, including proof reading for a student newspaper, doing an internship with a literary magazine, starting up a company newsletter, doing work experience at Dorling Kindersley, and working in academic and business publishing. It’s been a very busy few years! However, everything is about to change once again, as I’m soon going to be moving into a new role in digital marketing.

What made you so interested in the publishing industry?

As a child, I nearly always had my nose in a book, so the idea of working behind the scenes to make books happen really sparked my interest. Spelling and grammar always clicked well with me too, so it made sense to pursue a career which involved writing and editing. Since working in the industry, however, I’ve realised that it’s about far more than just editing, and it’s opened my eyes to other skills such as marketing.

I also found it really rewarding to work closely with authors and editors.

Tell me a little bit about how you got into the industry.

I first started gathering experience at sixth form, by becoming the Editor of my school’s magazine. Then, when I went off to university, I became a proof reader for the university’s student newspaper. After I graduated, I did a 3 month voluntary internship with a literary magazine called Mslexia, which is based in Newcastle. I was struggling to find a paid role, as there are so few creative jobs up in Newcastle, but I didn’t want to leave as I’d fallen in love with the north and I’d met my boyfriend up here!

Eventually, I heard about an open day at Penguin Books called Getting Into Publishing. You had to apply for a place at the event, and I was lucky enough to get one. It was a brilliant day, with presentations by members of staff from Penguin, Puffin and Dorling Kindersley (DK). There was an opportunity to network with the members of staff, so I did my best to meet as many Editors as I could, and got hold of lots of their e-mail addresses. The next day, I got in touch with everyone I was interested in working with. I was also given a leaflet about a competition DK was running, where you could win work experience by promoting a DK product using social media. I actually ended up winning the competition, but was also offered work experience by one of the contacts I emailed, so I got two work experience placements!

The first one was a three-week placement with the DK Editorial department, and the next one was a few months later and was a one-week placement with the DK Marketing and PR team. I had some really fantastic experiences with DK, including helping out with a photo shoot, going to an editorial meeting for Puffin children’s books, meeting the late Sue Townsend and getting her autograph, and going to a talk by the Editor of Vogue. I had a fantastic time, and getting the valuable experience under my belt meant that a few months later, I got my first paid role, as an Assistant Publisher for an academic publishing house called Emerald Group Publishing in Yorkshire. It was a long journey, and I had to be very persistent, but I got there eventually! After that, I went on to have a role with a business publisher in Gateshead, and moved up to Durham where I am now.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career in publishing?

I found it really rewarding when I ran campaigns at Emerald to promote the journals, and got some really good results from that. It makes you feel like what you’ve done is worthwhile when you can see the usage of the articles has increased. That’s what made me interested in pursuing the marketing route! I also found it really rewarding to work closely with authors and editors and solve any problems they had. When they gave me positive feedback, it made me feel really good that I was able to help them.

You might need to be flexible and make some compromises.

Tell me a little bit about Publishing In The North, your blog. What motivated you to start this up?

I started this blog quite soon after I started working at Emerald. As I mentioned earlier, it had taken me quite a while to break into a paid role in publishing whilst living in the north of England. I suppose I wanted to share some of my findings, and to show that it is possible to pursue a publishing career up here, although it’s very tough and there certainly aren’t enough jobs for everyone. I also wanted to try to create a central place for any news about publishing in the north to be advertised, such as events run by the Society of Young Publishers and job vacancies. Unfortunately, I have been extremely lax at keeping it going though, so it is woefully neglected!

I was partly inspired by a publishing blog called Diary of a Publishing Intern (now renamed Diary of a Publishing Professional, available at http://diaryofapublishingintern.blogspot.co.uk). It’s a really good blog as it lists opportunities such as work experience and jobs, but they’re mostly in London. I wanted to try to provide something similar for the north, although of course there is less going on!

What advice do you have for those who live in the North who would like to pursue a career in publishing?

Be persistent, as it’s not going to be easy if you want to stay up north! Do whatever you can to get some experience under your belt. For example, you could start writing book reviews, proof read your university newspaper or ask local media organisations if they could give you work experience. You might need to be flexible and make some compromises. For instance, you might always have dreamt of editing fiction, but if you want to stay in the north then you’ll have better job prospects if you consider a much broader variety of publications. You’ll also probably need to consider quite a wide search area. I worked in Yorkshire and travelled back to see my boyfriend in Durham at weekends for a couple of years, which was a compromise but it was worth it in the end.

Getting some work experience in London can also be very valuable in the long run. I know it might seem too expensive to go down there, but it is possible if you really want it. I did my work experience whilst on annual leave from my paid job in Newcastle (with their permission), and whilst I was in London I slept in youth hostels so that I could afford it! I would advise people to check out the Getting Into Publishing event at Penguin books as well, if it’s still running this year. It’s usually held in around October/November.

What’s next for you in your career? How has your time in publishing helped equip you for this next exciting step?

I’m soon going to be starting work at a digital marketing agency. I’ll be working in the Search team, so I’ll be helping clients to ensure their websites are performing well in search engine results, for example by making sure that their online content is top notch. There’s going to be lots to learn! Working in publishing has definitely helped me to reach this point, as I probably wouldn’t have realised marketing was a route I was interested in if I hadn’t experienced it as an Editorial Assistant at Emerald. There are also lots of transferrable skills between publishing and marketing, such as written and oral communications skills, problem solving, analysing data and working with external stakeholders. Working as an Editorial Assistant was extremely demanding and varied, and I think it’s prepared me for just about anything!

You can find me on Twitter at @LucyHoulden.

My (much abandoned) blog is at www.publishinginthenorth.wordpress.com

Do you have any further questions for Lucy? Input them into the comments box below and I will get them answered for you! Any other comments are also welcomed and encouraged.

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