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New Year, New Blog

That Pub Blogger has passed the mantle on to a new team, Ellie and Emma, two publishing girlies seeking to produce content for all our fellow publishing babes and beyond!

Happy New Year to That Publishing Blog followers and welcome back!!

As you may have seen on Twitter, Polly has decided to retire as That Pub Blogger and has passed the mantle on to a new team, Ellie and Emma, two publishing girlies seeking to produce content for all our fellow publishing babes and beyond! We’d firstly like to thank Polly, and Carl before her, for creating this blog and producing lots of great content that we’ve been reading over the last few years and double thanks for passing it on to us. We promise we won’t go all Elon Musk on you – please don’t stop to let that sink in.


So I guess… who ARE we????

Well, we are two 28 year olds living and working in London (south London represent!) having been in the publishing industry for 5 years. Between stuffing our faces with roast potatoes and drinking a variety of drinks over the Christmas period we’ve also managed to think about how we want to take on That Publishing Blog. We’ll be posting publishing news, book reviews, fun lists and of course what this blog is already best known for: helping those starting out (or trying to start out) in the publishing industry. From insider looks at the 3 major book fairs to interviews and tips on how to get your foot in the door (get paid ladies – we do not support unpaid internships in this house!) we will have it all.

Who we are as a duo and how do we know each other?

For the first time this blog will be run by a team of two rather than one so we imagine you might be curious about how we are. Ellie and Emma met in the year 2017 on a sunny September afternoon in the White Horse pub in Headington (blue plaque incoming) and it was the start of a beautiful friendship and a year of fun as we did our Masters in Publishing at Oxford Brookes. We bonded over a love of literature (duh), drinking wine (any kind) and the specific trauma that comes with being an emo in the late 00s (it’s not just a phase mum)… but most importantly, the desire to be the ultimate turtle-neck wearing, tote-wielding publishing babes.


When we reached the end of the academic year, we began the routine of surfing career pages and the Bookseller jobs board, and as fate would have it we both landed positions at Usborne Publishing in Summer 2018. Emma began her publishing journey as an assistant in the Rights department and Ellie as a designer within the Production department – publishing babes in-training, if you will.

In the years since then, Emma has risen up the ranks and will be moving to the Bent Agency in February where she’ll be a Rights Executive selling translation rights in languages around the world. Ellie has since also left Usborne and is now a Senior Marketing Designer at DK, designing digital content for Amazon and hoping she will one day spot Harlan Coben in the PRH lobby – she’ll keep it professional, promise! She’ll just ask him to sign her forehead.

Saying we’ve been in publishing for 5 years sounds like we would have it all together, but it honestly often feels like we’re frauds. It feels like just yesterday that we first arrived on Usborne’s doorstep fresh out of uni and excited to start our first full-time publishing jobs. Although of course a lot has happened since then. We’ve gotten promotions and/or moved jobs, we’ve lived through working from our sofas and bedrooms and we’ve been watching everything that’s been happening in publishing since then from the sidelines. Don’t worry we’re not looking to become the next Publishing Tea account, but we do want to be honest about the good but also the bad sides of publishing. We’ve met some incredible people through our love for all things books and publishing, but it’s not all sunshine and roses and it wouldn’t be fair to those trying to get into publishing to hide that. 

But that’s enough about us, tell us more about you! Who are you and what would you like to see on this Blog? We’re hanging out on Twitter @thatpubblogger until Elon sends it up in flames and will soon be more present on other social media (watch this space). If you’d also like to follow us individually you can find us @eleaonr and @Emmalagarde94. So do get in touch as we’d love to hear from you!

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That Publishing Blog’s 13 Publishing Predictions for 2023

The start of the year is a time to look to the future. So what do we have on our cards for this year you ask? Well get your own cards out and let’s compare – here is what we think we might see happening in publishing in 2023. 

We’re only halfway through January and if you follow the publishing news and are as chronically online as we are, you’ll know that lots has been happening already. From an author rising from the dead to the announcement and subsequent binning of the It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover colouring book. Neither of which we had on our bingo cards for 2023. So what do we have on our cards for this year you ask? Well get your own cards out and let’s compare – here is what we think we might see happening in publishing in 2023. 

Disclaimer: Not all of these are serious predictions and we have no secret insider knowledge about anything. 

  1. Simon & Schuster will be acquired by another conglomeration, but it won’t be another publisher

Everyone is entitled to their opinion on the failed acquisition of S&S by Penguin Random House, of course. But either way it has been blocked by the federal court in the US and many publishing people sighed a breath of relief. But the fact remains that Paramount have made it clear that S&S is still up for sale and so it seems only a matter of time until the successful and profitable company will be snapped up by someone else. We don’t think it’s realistic that another publisher will either have the same buying power as PRH to put in a significant enough offer or will want to risk being burned in the same way, so we think the most likely course will be another large corporation with an interest in expanding their business in media and publishing will swoop in and offer the cash Paramount is asking for. 

  1. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that pandemic fiction will come to an end

Look, everyone can read whatever they want, but every time the dreaded C-word (no, not that one) comes up in a blurb or jump scares us in a book we’re reading we physically shudder. Maybe 20 years down the line we will feel some misplaced sense of nostalgia when we remember those lockdown days. Perhaps we’ll finally be ready then to enjoy reading a romance in which people ended up quarantining together after their one-night stand, or a thriller set against the background of locked down London. But until then we’d like to only read fiction set in universes where this particular pandemic just never happened.

  1. An AI novel will be published and become a New York Times Bestseller

We’ve seen the tech world make strides with AI in the year 2022 and just before the turn of the year there was a big stir about AI art and its use on book covers or in illustrated books. Our prediction for 2023 is that someone manages to get a coherent novel out of one of the many AI chatbots popping up and it will find its way to major publication. It will generate plenty of publicity and it probably won’t be any good – but it will end up on the New York Times Bestseller list. At the very least, we think we’ll see some AI-centric novelty books pop up.

  1. Brooklyn Beckham will announce his second book project – a cookbook photographed by himself.

We’re sure we’re not alone in saying that since the release of 2017’s What I See we have been losing sleep waiting for Britain’s favourite double-nepo baby to unveil his next book. Perhaps in 2023 we’ll see the amateur chef release his first cookbook complete with images by himself? We’re envisioning a hardback book titled food for thought (all lower case obviously), filled with Beckham’s signature shadowy photography and thought-provoking captions…

mashed potato on plate

so hard to mash but

delicious to eat.

  1. Another major author will choose to go the self publishing route

After the surprise success of Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter to self-publish his next 4 novels this year, we can only expect another big author with a large existing following will try their own hand at going this route. At the time of writing this, Sanderson’s Kickstarter stands at $41,754,153 pledged out of an initial $1,000,000 goal. With ever more conversations about the shrinking advances and royalty payments for even successful authors, the logical next step would be for other major authors to try going this route. We can certainly see the appeal this might have for previously traditionally published authors with a big following, as a way to also gain more control of the publishing process and ensure they get a final say over the entire publishing package.

  1. George RR Martin will once again claim the next Game of Thrones book will be published this year

Isn’t that what he says every year? We’re going to be honest here, whether he’s sat on a complete book or if there’s not a single word on paper for the next instalment, we don’t think that’s going to happen in his lifetime. The anticipation and the expectation has built up to such a degree that we think he will leave whatever has been prepared in the (metaphorical) vault, to be released posthumously, and we don’t blame him. But as sure as death and taxes, he will claim it’s coming soon once again. 

  1. Authors will continue to flock to TikTok, like celebrities in other media industries have

TikTok has been both a blessing and curse for the publishing industry but its overall power can not be denied. Whilst BookTok is somewhat unpredictable, with trending titles often originating from one readers’ passion for a book, authors like Tessa Bailey have also built  significant fan bases through the app. So far author presence is largely limited to YA and Romance writers and we are yet to see the likes of Stephen King flocking to do the latest TikTok challenge, but as other media titans like Reese Witherspoon  have begun taking to the app in recent months, it’s only natural that big name authors will follow. BookTok provides another huge opportunity for authors to efficiently connect with their readership, has undeniable backlist power and seems to be showing no signs of slowing down.

  1. A new major literary prize to replace the loss of the Costa Book Awards will be announced 

Maybe we’re just getting our hopes up, but we miss the Costa Book Awards and their brand of accessibility and we would love something similar in its place, as there seems to be space for it. Maybe not Costa-backed, simply because we cannot get behind their rank tasting coffee. Bleugh.

  1. Taylor Swift will release her song lyrics in a poetry book

This feels very obvious but also inevitable. Everyone and their dog seems to have a memoir out these days but we don’t see Swift, who has famously made great efforts to maintain her privacy in recent years, going down this route. Much like Paul McCartney did last year, we think she’ll opt to release her songs in book format (albeit at a much lower price point for her younger fans). Seems like an easy win to us!

  1. Greek mythology retellings will peak in 2023

We’re sorry… but it’s time. These have been done to death and it’s time to move on. Yes, the Greeks were a sexy, toga-clad bunch, but surely there are some more raunchy eras? The French revolution? A retelling with Catherine Parr as a sexy assassin? Whilst regency romances seem to have some staying power, these Greek retellings are getting a bit stale and we think we’ll start seeing less and less of them in publishing programs. Maybe Madeline Miller can sneak one in before we call time of death. Then again, with the new Percy Jackson TV-show set to premiere on Disney+ at some point in the next 18 months, what do we know?

  1. Amazon will continue to lose some of its power on platforms Audible and Goodreads

Amazon has dominated the audio game for a hot minute as well as having a firm grip on Goodreads users like us. But in recent years we’ve seen the emergence of contenders in both areas, and we think there could be the beginnings of significant shifts away from Amazon this year. In our opinion, changes in the way Amazon’s strategy over the last year may have changed perception of the company as the be-all-and-end-all from publishers’ perspective AND from that of a consumer… enter the competition.

In the world of audio, Spotify has put itself forward as a reasonable potential contender and this could really stick. They’ve got the platform ready to go as well as being an established audio brand that people trust. Over in the rest of Europe, especially the north, Storytel seems to be a significant player and it surely it’s only a matter of time before they try to plant their feet on our damp shores. As someone who is always looking to streamline their direct debits, we are waiting keenly to see how this develops.

In the world of social reading on Goodreads, there has been competition in this area for years such as Storygraph and Booksloth. Amazon have pretty much refused to put any money into Goodreads to improve usability, so as these platforms continue to grow and develop, it’s a great opportunity to pinch some users from Amazon.

  1. Taylor Jenkins Reid will begin work on her fictionalised version of the Don’t Worry Darling debacle

We all loved her fictional retelling of the creation of Rumours in Daisy Jones and the Six and we’ve continued to be obsessed with every other celebrity-oriented novel she’s put out. Pair TJR with everybody’s favourite drama from 2022, and I see a match made in heaven. I want to see Miss Flo, Olivia’s special dressing and #spitgate on the page ASAP!

  1. And most importantly… HarperCollins USA will graciously fold and award all workers decent pay rises 

We have our fingers crossed! Support workers’ rights!

The past, present and future of proofs

This blog post was born out of a question. A friend asked me, ‘what’s the best thing about your job in publishing?’ I couldn’t put my finger on one thing so I panicked and said ‘free books’.

I think this scenario has played out for many people in publishing. And, it’s not entirely a lie. Free books are one of the cool things about my job but I wouldn’t be doing this job if it was the best thing.

It’s not even just ‘free books’ – for me, it’s free proofs.

This blog post was born out of a question. A friend asked me, ‘what’s the best thing about your job in publishing?’ I couldn’t put my finger on one thing so I panicked and said ‘free books’.

I think this scenario has played out for many people in publishing. And, it’s not entirely a lie. Free books are one of the cool things about my job but I wouldn’t be doing this job if it was the best thing.

It’s not even just ‘free books’ – for me, it’s free proofs. The exclusivity in those pages. The excitement when the book is the best thing you’ve ever read and you can’t wait to see readers picking it up in the shops. I love that feeling when you get to flash your proof on the tube or online, like you’re Andy from The Devil Wears Prada.

Actually, speaking of The Devil Wears Prada, isn’t there a book proof in that film?

Anyway, it got me thinking, about proofs. How have proofs changed over time? Why do we have proofs? How come it feels a lot easier than ever to beg your way to a free proof?

THE PAST

I reached out to Maria Vassilopoulos, global sales manager at University of Wales Press, archivist for SYP UK and Book Society UK and book trade historian, to ask where proofs came from:

‘The first proofs of books in the British book trade can be dated back to the early 1600s. The job of ‘proofing’ in the publishing process originates from the days of the letterpress printing method where a ‘galley’ or metal tray was lined up with the type, and then a small number of copies of the text would be printed on what was called a ‘proof press.’ This was done so that the printer could check the typesetter had properly set the copy and also see if any of the letters were damaged. If they passed the test, a copy would be sent to the author and the editor for final checking. By the mid-nineteenth century, publishers were able with the new technology of an automated printing press to produce large quantities of books at once, and authors were sent several proof copies to check and approve before the final version of their book was printed. This abundance also allowed booksellers and reviewers from newspapers and trade magazines such as The Bookseller to be sent copies to include in their book round-ups. Booksellers would also mark up changes they thought needed to be made and send proofs back to the publishers, and although they were never meant to sell them, this rule was often broken.’

If you’re interested in learning more about bookshops and publishers of the past, you can subscribe to Maria’s newsletter ‘Book History Bite’ here.

THE PRESENT

The proofing process created what we know as a proof copy today and still exists within the industry internationally. The word ‘galley’ is rarely used now but still crops up, as we will see. However, this is more to the word ‘proof’ than meets the eye. There are many different forms and BookMachine have created a definitive list of the different types of proof. It’s a great insight into the production process and how a book goes from manuscript to hardback. For the rest of this blog post, when I say ‘proof’, I’ll be referring to an ‘Uncorrected proof’.

Uncorrected proof

An advance copy of a upcoming novel or text led work. ‘Uncorrected’ meaning it has not yet gone through a final edit or proofread.

Nowadays, proof printing is predominantly digital, with the production department overseeing the process and sales, marketing and PR using them to secure coverage and hype and interest around new books. We’ve seen different editions of proofs cropping up: limited foiled editions, hardback proofs, even names printed onto proofs. So which companies stand out and knows how to find that hype?

The biggest hype I’ve seen recently was the love for the Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow proofs.

The marketing department at Vintage absolutely nailed the design. It’s eye-catching and fits the video game topics of the book. It’s a beautiful and exclusive package that had many people begging on social media. I managed to get a copy and just sliding the book out of the sleeve with anticipation was like the anticipation of those fancy smartphone boxes. And the story inside was bloody brilliant too.

Another publishing team who absolutely nail the marketing strategy for proofs is HarperCollins UK. The fact that Fleur Clarke, the FutureBook Award-winning marketing genius is no longer around to create cool proofs is a huge shame. But I can’t wait to see what’s next for the team.

https://twitter.com/micaelaalcaino/status/1537831066999918592

The only draw back of printed proofs is, when you no longer want them on your shelves, you can not donate them to a charity shop. Due to it being an uncorrected proof, it may not be up to scratch and edits may still be made. It’s also not available for resale or donation. As Maria mentioned, people have been sneakily selling proofs since the 1600s. But, to stop you doing that, let me teach you the correct way to get rid. You rip off the front cover, you rip off the back cover, and then rip the remaining stack of pages in half before putting everything in your nearest recycling bin. Yes, it’s painful.

This brings us to another huge part of the proofs process – digital proofs. Digital PDFs have been part of the proofing process for a while but now digital proofs are being shared with permission on websites like NetGalley.com and apps like Book Sprout. The instant access that these websites provides saves money on printing, packing and postage and is much more environmentally friendly. However, the hype can sometimes feel a little less. We all love taking photos of our pretty books and it’s difficult to do that for a PDF.

With the budget-pressures that publishers have, digital proofs have definitely found their place in the industry. But are they here to stay?

THE FUTURE

I asked my followers on Twitter just that question.

Will we ever ditch physical paperback proofs? I put the question to my followers on Twitter and 46 people answered. Here are the results…

As you can see, it’s a pretty resounding ‘No’. And, despite the growth in e-books and audiobooks, there’s still something in seeing a book on your shelf and then being able to hand it to a colleague afterwards.

I’d like to see a larger hype for proofs of audiobooks. I think sites like NetGalley are helping this idea grow. I’d also be interested to see companies like Yoto sending out proof ‘cards’ for young readers to be their test audiences. With the rise of #BookTok too, let’s keep budget aside for influencers to take a proof copy. If they really love the book, then the response is organic and we’ve seen how the exclusivity of proofs can lead to more interest from influencers.

Things I’d like to ditch – sorry marketers – belly bands. I hate a belly band on a proof, it just goes in a bin. I would also like to ditch single-use extras that come with proofs. Chocolate, yes, keep it coming. But I think we have enough tote bags, don’t you? That might have just been a sure fire way of getting myself taken off PR lists, sorry.

As I finish writing this, I’m heading home from the Edinburgh Book Fest and I’ve just finished a proof. I left it in the Author’s Yurt (you heard me right, YURT!) for the first person to find and I hope they enjoy it as much as I did. So here’s to proofs – uncorrected, soft, hardback, colourful, audio. Without them, we wouldn’t have such perfect finished copies to buy in the shops, or a job that makes me smile and makes my friends ask such good questions.

Thanks for reading. And if you want to send me a proof, you can always drop me a DM. x

A Tale of Two Masters

In France, full-time masters take two years to complete. In most cases, two internships and two dissertations as well. So after all this work, why did I decide to move across the Channels to pursue another publishing degree? The answer to that question is both very simple, and extremely complex.

By @DedicatedLea

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Funny how this timeless opening from one of Charles Dickens’s most beloved novels perfectly encapsulates how I felt after graduating with a French publishing masters back in 2020. Feeling excited, yet terrified of the world outside of academia; feeling hopeful for the future, yet dreading the challenges of job hunting; feeling knowledgeable about the industry, yet knowing deep down it would not be enough; I had everything before me, yet nothing at the same time.

In France, full-time masters take two years to complete. In most cases, two internships and two dissertations as well. So after all this work, why did I decide to move across the Channels to pursue another publishing degree? The answer to that question is both very simple, and extremely complex.

Let’s jump in the DeLorean and go back a few years.

2018 – The last year of my undergraduate degree, called a licence in French. As education is a lot more affordable in France than in the UK, most students choose to continue their academic careers with a postgraduate degree. And I was no different.

The previous summer, I did an internship in the archive department of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. My duties involved extracting the information relevant to the museum’s collections from exhibition catalogues, and other various art books. I was impressed by the work of the editors. This particular experience was instrumental in my decision to pursue a postgraduate degree in publishing.

To learn key skills, I opted for a degree in digital publishing. From book design to coding e-books, using HTML and CSS, this degree taught me the importance of I.T. and graphic innovation in an ever-evolving industry. It also gave me the opportunity to try my hand at different endeavours. Elected president of our student union, I supervised the planning of the annual university book fair. For one of our modules, I created a detailed business plan for a fictitious brand-new independent publishing house. These experiences helped me gain confidence, acquire time management skills, and grasp the importance of effective teamwork.

A white board with hand-painted red, black and white letters spelling out SALON DU LIVRE MYSTERE.
Our Book Fair was themed after mysteries.

However, whilst focussing primarily on publishing, this degree also offered classes on bookselling and library science. From imagining ergonomic libraries in the Sims 4 to staging eye-catching window displays, these classes introduced us to the life of books beyond what happens in a publishing house.

As I said earlier, we were asked to complete two internships. First, I joined Les Éditions de la Table Ronde for two months as publishing and PR assistant. I witnessed first-hand how crucial social media can be to the industry when I was entrusted with the task of creating posts for a summer holidays campaign. For my second internship, I was fortunate to work at Les Éditions Diane de Selliers for six months as a publishing assistant. Spending days researching artworks online and in libraries, then interacting with museums and galleries from around the world proved to be a great opportunity to delve deeper into the intricacies of art book-making whilst honing my communication and conflict-solving skills.

Bookshelves full of books.
Les Éditions Diane de Selliers, where I did an internship. They have the smallest bookshop in Paris!

In addition, we were required to write one dissertation per year. 45,000 words in total. Again, why did I think it would be a great idea to do it all again, but this time in a different country?

After spending a year sending over 200 applications to various publishing houses in Paris, and receiving almost the same amount of rejections, I decided that I had had enough of people telling me I didn’t have enough experience for an entry-level job.

After reading yet another rejection email, I wrote the first draft of my personal statement to apply for Edinburgh Napier University’s MSc Publishing.

Ask any of my English teachers, I have been dreaming of studying abroad since the age of 12. At 24, I thought it was probably my last chance of doing so. Moving from the EU to the UK post-Brexit and in the middle of a global pandemic was not the easiest, but I did it anyway.

By joining the publishing course at Napier, I hoped to fill existing gaps in my understanding of the publishing industry. Namely in book marketing, rights, and the international publishing landscape. Believe it or not, I had barely heard of the Big Five before August 2021.

I often get asked what the biggest differences are between the French publishing industry, and the British industry. My answer is, this time, relatively straightforward: agents. In France, authors will most likely send their manuscripts directly to publishers. Literary agencies are not the most common route to publishing your debut novel. When I started my course in the UK, I discovered this whole new side of the industry. Something else that really surprised me, Book Twitter. Before moving to Scotland, I had never heard of such a thing. Imagine my surprise when I first dived into the tangled web of publishing-related content on social media.

In Edinburgh, I found myself in a multicultural environment, with classmates hailing from all around the globe. Suddenly, the book world seemed much bigger. However, starting anew in an industry where language and words are at the centre of everything was terrifying. With English as my second language, did I truly belong there? Re-learning proofreading and editing marks, which are different in French and English; using the Adobe Creative Suite on an Apple Mac and with English commands; I had to reboot my skills entirely.

Knock knock! Who’s there? Imposter Syndrome.

If I had to sum up what studying publishing in a foreign country felt like, I would say those two words. Working twice as hard, saying yes to most projects coming my way, writing every assignment months in advance to save some time for rewrites; as if I had to prove again and again that I deserved my spot on this course.

Now, what helped me overcome this feeling of not belonging? Well, first, a whole lot of singing Go the Distance from Disney’s animated film Hercules. Sadly, I did not find Philoctetes along the way. However, I met the most wonderful people who, each in their own way, helped me understand that the only way to fully find my place in this industry was to carve my own space.

A big open space, with two floors of stands.
2022 – Year of my first ever London Book Fair

My top tips would be:

  • Join the Society of Young Publishers. As a member, by participating in their mentorship schemes, or as part of a committee, main or conference – like I did. You will get a chance to meet other publishing hopefuls and engage with industry professionals.
  • Talk to your classmates. Chances are, you’re not the only one feeling like an imposter.
  • Reach out to your university and/or lecturers. They are here to teach, but also to walk you through this big change in your life.
  • Attend events. From book launches to conferences and festivals, the possibilities are endless. And if you’re feeling anxious about jumping in at the deep end, you can test the waters by participating in various online events first.
  • Explore the internet. From reading blogs such as That Publishing Blog and The Publishing Post to watching publishing pros on YouTube like the excellent Eleanor Marie Rose.
  • Join Twitter. The social media platform is a great way to engage with the industry and stay on top of current events. Still, keep in mind that it is Twitter and it is important to stay safe online.
  • Ask questions. Publishing peeps are eager to share their experience and love of books. If you are interested in a certain topic or aspect of the industry, let it shine!

The British Book Awards: Behind the scenes

I am very lucky to work with the phenomenal events team at The Bookseller. We all work tirelessly to bring the finest events to the publishing industry, including the biggest book trade awards ceremony of the year – The British Book Awards. Now that the dust has settled from this year’s event which took place on Monday 23rd May, I wanted to share the experience of working on this big event.

I am very lucky to work with the phenomenal events team at The Bookseller. We all work tirelessly to bring the finest events to the publishing industry, including the biggest book trade awards ceremony of the year – The British Book Awards. Now that the dust has settled from this year’s event which took place on Monday 23rd May, I wanted to share the experience of working on this big event.

The British Book Awards (aka the Nibbies) is different to other prizes because it has a long history of celebrating the publishing teams behind the book. Prizes like The Booker Prize and The Women’s Prize are essential to our industry but often focus on the winning author and they are the only recipient of the trophy. The British Book Award strives to celebrate the journey of the book and the exceptional people that get the book onto the shelf.

This year, The British Book Awards returned with an awards ceremony in person, the first for three years. A livestream accompanied so that our supportive audience could watch from home. Our online audience has grown immensely since the ceremony went virtual for two years in the height of the COVID pandemic.

But, let’s get to the juice. How do we do it every year? And how do we make sure it gets better and better?

Discussions start around September but the main focus on The British Book Awards starts in November when we start curating the ceremony and any new awards we hope to see. This year saw the arrival of Book of the Year – Discover, aimed at amplifying books from traditionally underrepresented writers, with a particular focus on the work of indie presses and imprints.

We spend around a month making sure the submission website is ready to take in all of your submissions and each entry pack is perfect.

Then, we get going on our marketing. This year’s marketing brainstorming sessions were full of exciting ideas…some that may still be a secret for future years so I can’t say much more.

I’m so pleased that our events team work so closely with our production and editorial team at The Bookseller. Our marketing is not just emails and social media thanks to them. Every week, they create stylish Bookseller magazine spreads and I loved seeing our Nibbies 2022 launch across two pages.

While the industry writes and perfects their submissions, we hunt for judges. This can require a lot of patience as we are approaching people with incredibly busy schedules but every year we are blessed with a bumper crop of media personalities, retailers, book buyers and authors.

And, as always, the marketing was successful and this year we were so happy to see that the number of people that entered had risen once again. The quality of submissions escalates every year too and, to be reminded of the work of all our peers in the industry do, well, it’s a delight.

Once submissions are closed, The Bookseller judging process begins. This year’s judging took place at The House of St Barnabas, a new partner for us and what an amazing location.

The amount of reading that is done each year is really substantial, as is the dedication our judges bring to the process. Every year, I am amazed at the amount of time and work our internal judges put in – and how fantastic they are at keeping a secret! Thank you judges.

This year remained tricky as a few judges succumbed to COVID, hence the laptops on the table just in case. However, even if it was from their home offices, the discussion with all judges was fruitful and some categories overran as the discussion was just too good to end!

Photos of the winning books are taken

This year, I also took on some art direction for our winners photos. I was already in safe hands with our photographer GT who has a few Nibbies ceremonies and judging sessions in the bag. Did you know, those photos were also all taken in our judging venue, The House of St Barnabas? The funniest memory of this day and looking back at these photos is that in each photo, if you look closely, you can see a sheet of A4 paper reflected in our shiny Nibbie trophy. That was me, making sure that the shine was always perfect and that any reflections didn’t ruin the photo….

But, let’s step back a moment. Once the shortlists are picked, how do we share the news? Our shortlist announcement of course. This year was the most challenging shortlist announcement in three years because we relaunched our website thebookseller.com in the same month. So, there were teething problems to work around…

The glow up was amazing though and, with some late nights, we got there. And I just know it will be easier in the future after doing it once before. Maybe next year I’ll figure out some better storage for our shortlisted books in-between all the photoshoots though…that is my hallway in my North London flat.

Our shortlist awaits its shortlist photos

So, the shortlists are out in the world. The judges have picked their winners. What’s next? It’s time to sell some tickets…

We knew that the ceremony would be hybrid from a very early stage and we work with incredible production companies that come back every year to help us out so we knew it was achievable. And there was a brand new audience we had to reach that helped support us throughout lockdown too.

Ticket sales were underway, a livestream was on the cards, it was time to put our events management hats on and return to parts of the job that we hadn’t done since 2019. Printing and posting tickets was a huge one, as well as communicating with all our guests about our new COVID regulations and the new partners they can expect to see in the room on the night.

The dedication and passion from my colleagues in the events team continues to amaze and encourage me.

So, let’s get to the juicy bit…the night of The British Book Awards. It’s 23rd May 2022 and it’s 6am in the morning and time to wake up. After a quick bowl of Cheerios, I’m out the door, on the tube and on my way to the office. I left the office at 8pm the night before getting final bits done, including taking deliveries right up until 6pm for our goodie bags. But, hey, look at that pretty beer – it was totally worth it!

The prettiest beer to celebrate the publication of Candice Carty-Williams’ ‘People Person’. Carty-Williams won Overall Book of the Year for ‘Queenie’ in 2020.

A courier took everything over to the venue for a 9am start and the countdown clock begins until our guests arrive. There’s just time to set up the interview suite, get through one final check with our production company and write some last minute name-cards before lunch.

All our goodie bags are packed by a team of colleagues during lunch too. An almighty feat! There’s no rest for the wicked but there were delicious chips that helped.

After lunch, we meet our hosts and get a full run-through with our Voice of God. Tables are laid by the venue staff and the Bookseller team put out all the name cards. Some hair and makeup sessions are squeezed in to a soundtrack of the best Rihanna songs (hype music that I really needed in that moment!). There’s just enough time to get our heels on and then it’s time to meet guests at the door.

The work that my team put in between 5:30pm and 7:00pm to gather content with our guests was incredible. Even though I was stood on the door, I could relive the buzz in the room through all the vox pops and photos and these were great to share on social media. You can check them out here and here.

And suddenly, it’s 7pm and the ceremony is underway and it’s happening. It’s really happening. The British Book Awards are here and presenters are on stage and oh my god a winner is on stage! And there’s applause! It’s really all happening.

Before you know it, we are onto Publisher of the Year and the end is in sight. The dancefloor is calling but not before the team need to get all the goodie bags out (with a wine glass in hand of course).

Guests find their taxis at 2am and there’s just enough time for a team debrief in a hotel room with pretzels, pistachios and prosecco.

Yes, I may have got 3 hours sleep. Yes, I may have forgotten to wear my favourite earrings. Yes, I made memories that I will never forget.

Let’s do it all again next year…

If you want to relive the Nibbies – or catch them for the first time – you can watch the free Fane TV highlights show on Sunday 29th May 3pm.

Sign up here – https://bit.ly/3wMKFZb

Book Review: How Words Get Good by Rebecca Lee

What better way to learn about the book industry than learning it from a book? I was very happy to receive a copy of How Words Get Good by Rebecca Lee from Profile. The reason? Well, I work in a very niche side of publishing in events and often find myself in discussion with my publishing friends about production, copy-editing and grammar and I just feel a bit lost. Even though I work in the industry, there’s still a lot I can learn about words and how they become a book.

What better way to learn about the book industry than learning it from a book? I was very happy to receive a copy of How Words Get Good by Rebecca Lee from Profile. The reason? Well, I work in a very niche side of publishing in events and often find myself in discussion with my publishing friends about production, copy-editing and grammar and I just feel a bit lost. Even though I work in the industry, there’s still a lot I can learn about words and how they become a book.

‘How Words Get Good’ was the perfect place to start learning about making a book and Rebecca Lee’s words are full of passion for the process. After 20 years working in the editorial department of one of the world’s largest publishers, Lee has book knowledge by the bucket load. Each sentence is filled with complete love for the publishing process. It’s a wonderful reading experience – who doesn’t love hearing someone talk about their favourite chosen subject with sheer delight?

The book takes you through the entire process, from manuscript to printed book, discussing everything from copy-editing, indexes, footnotes and text design. In amongst some really detailed but accessible explanation of the production and editing process are some great quotes from people in the industry. I was so happy to hear from names I recognised from working in the book world, like Karolina Sutton and Chris Wellbelove. I am a little biased too but also loved the nods to The Bookseller, particularly the Diagram Prize.

But it’s not just publishing professionals that we hear from. Lee has included examples of the publishing process for some huge authors. It was so interesting to hear about the quirks of editing with George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut, as well as contemporary authors like Margaret Atwood.

Despite these nods to classic authors, this book is completely up-to-date and fresh, noting newer publications like The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and the issues the title had in the US. I was so pleased for this as the process of publishing is so fast and ever-changing. It was a great balance and felt like something I could talk about in the office with my colleagues.

There was even a nod to how the pandemic has changed how we think about selling books. I loved the story about booksellers turning books around in shops so that the blurb was on show, and not the cover, to save people touching the book. ‘How Words Get Good’ really celebrates those rulebreakers that change the process of publishing and help to change or curate what makes words ‘good’.

And to top it all off, look at that cover! The illustrations by James Weston Lewis, with art direction from Samantha Johnson, make for a stunning package. I feel very proud to have this book on my shelf.

Congratulations to Rebecca Lee and Profile on a great introduction to publishing and ‘words’ that should be recommended to all publishing students and book lovers. I would absolutely love a continuation in the series called ‘How Words Get Sold’ or ‘How Words Get to be Movies’ about the process that happens after the book is made and the way stories continue to adapt in the real world.

You can get your copy here

If you enjoyed my review, or have another recommendation for a book all about publishing, let me know on Twitter @bookcoma

And, if you are a publisher and would like to send me a book about publishing to review, my DMs are always open. You can also email me: thatpublishingblogger@gmail.com

Please don’t tell me you ‘just love books’ in your cover letter

You’ll be surprised how often I see people saying this online or in the office or in career tips videos and blog posts online. And yet, I still hear this coming up quite a lot. It’s very easy to tell that people in publishing also love books. We collect books and stack them up all over our houses. We tweet about them. We spend all weekend reading them sometimes. I catch myself smelling new books. Yeh, I know you do too, don’t deny it.

You’ll be surprised how often I see people saying this online or in the office or in career tips videos and blog posts online. And yet, I still hear this coming up quite a lot.

It’s very easy to tell that people in publishing also love books. We collect books and stack them up all over our houses. We tweet about them. We spend all weekend reading them sometimes. I catch myself smelling new books. Yeh, I know you do too, don’t deny it.

I think explaining that you love books is a great way to express that you may be a similar person to the recruiter who is reading your cover letter.

However, I think this method is much more suited to introducing yourself in person at a party or a launch event. I can’t guarantee this will work on a cover letter.

It is a very weird piece of writing, the ol’ cover letter. Probably the weirdest one out there. And I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that has enjoyed writing one.

You have to convince a recruiter (who may never meet you or hear of you ever again) why they should invite you to an interview in one page of writing.

A little bit of advice that really helped me understand how to change up my approach to the cover letter is this:

The recruiter has to ‘like’ you, but most importantly they have to ‘like’ how your knowledge of the world fits into their company and the role they have advertised. The cover letter is there to take all of your reading, all of your experience, all of your education, and narrow it down to how this is useful for the recruiter and could make them some money . Right, sounds a little brutal. And I know there may be people out there in publishing that would say that they don’t hire people because of profit. But if a book still costs me £8.99, there’s got to be something in that…

Publishing is a business. I think the most successful cover letters explain what you will bring to the business. And, really, loving books is part of it but not ALL of it.

So please don’t waste your page.

And of course, this isn’t an overarching statement for every role in publishing.

There are cover letters for editorial jobs in particular that really want you to delve into your favourite reads, why you loved them, maybe even how you would commission similar books from new authors. There are also reviewing jobs where your whole career and salary will be made talking about books and how much you adored them (and sometimes, despised them). The list goes on and new jobs are being created every day!

Carl who started That Publishing Blog has some amazing advice on this blog post, and I think this quote in particular still stands:

Treat your covering letter just like you would an essay:
the job advert is your primary source and your experience is
the secondary criticism

Focus most on what the advert needs and how that translates to your experience.

There is no perfect cover letter. And I’m not a perfect human; this blog post is all opinion.

So, no glasses raised or love lost to the person who invented the cover letter in the first place. And in all seriousness, if you would like someone to have a look at a cover letter, there are many people in publishing that would be happy to do so, including me. DMs are always open.

Just remember, tell that recruiter why you are the best person for the job not JUST that you love books. And next time you see me at a publishing event, we most CERTAINLY will be talking about all of them in depth! x

My top reads of 2021

For the first time ever, all my favourite reads of the year were published in that year too. This would not be the case if I didn’t receive proofs from some amazing people in publishing. Thank you to everyone who sent me proofs this year, you made my reading really special. I’ve also added a little shout-out to a book I loved that is being published in 2022.

For the first time ever, all my favourite reads of the year were published in that year too. This would not be the case if I didn’t receive proofs from some amazing people in publishing. Thank you to everyone who sent me proofs this year, you made my reading really special.

I’ve also added a little shout-out to a book I loved that is being published in 2022.

So without further ado, here are my top reads in the order I read them. If you haven’t already, get yourself a copy and get reading!

Open Water, Caleb Azumah Nelson
Viking, Penguin Random House UK

This was an incredible debut from Caleb Azumah Nelson about a love story between two young, Black artists living in South-East London. I think the second-person narration worked so well to put you in the shoes of the protagonist, particularly after George Floyd’s murder and the conversations and action around Black Lives Matter in 2020 and 2021. Race and trauma shadows every word in this book but it is so often filled with joy and love. Nelson’s characters work their way through life with their art and music, just like Nelson has used his writing to do the same and help you see more from his perspective as a young, Black man living in London today.

Insatiable, Daisy Buchanan
Sphere, Little Brown Book Group

I picked this debut up in BookBar and it’s my TOP TOP TOP read of the year. The protagonist is drawn into a new relationship with an older woman and her husband. But as she learns more about the couple and meets their friends at their weekend group sex parties, she’s unsure this is what she wants. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is feeling a little lost in their 20s and who wants a book that makes you feel naughty reading it on the tube. Buchanan’s writing is so funny and so addictive. I can’t wait for her next book, Careless, to come out next year.

Dark Neighbourhood, Vanessa Onwuemezi
Fitzcarraldo Editions

I am not a huge reader of short story collections but was so happy to receive this proof. Another debut too! I had begged for it online. The stories sounded so mysterious and they totally delivered. It was like discovering Olga Tokarczuk’s ‘Drive Your Plows Over The Bones of the Dead’ again, also published by Fitzcarraldo. I was so pulled in by the stories that I decorated my proof with drawings inspired by them. Now that is a sign of a good author! I was lucky enough to meet Vanessa this year at the FutureBook Conference by The Bookseller and she was absolutely lovely.

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro
Faber & Faber

This book was highly anticipated and it blew me away. I don’t really agree with some reviewers who think it’s just ‘Never Let Me Go’ written again. I think the themes are similar but my reading experience was very different for Klara and the Sun. This book looked at technology so much more than NLMG and I really enjoyed the controversial ending. I was lucky enough to read this book with two book clubs which really helped me fall in love with it even more. Just a great modern sci-fi that focuses on human nature and empathy. Absolutely shafted by Booker judges if you ask me!

And one to look out for in 2022!

Cleopatra and Frankenstein, Coco Mellors
4th Estate, HarperCollins UK

This debut sneaked in to my top reads list this December after a proof arrived on my doorstep. It was very funny and very relatable. It is a story of impulsive desire and hard knocks from reality. The characters are so well-written and I really like the range of different people that narrate the story. There’s chapters from people that only seem to be a side character at first but they pull you into their hopes and despair too.

Really worth picking up a copy in February 2022.

BookMachine CAMPUS: The perfect Christmas gift for any publisher

For the month of December, I have been lucky enough to access a membership to BookMachine (thank you BM team). I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for….CAMPUS. CAMPUS provides short courses from professionals in and around the publishing world.

For the month of December, I have been lucky enough to access a membership to BookMachine (thank you BM team). I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for….CAMPUS. CAMPUS provides short courses from professionals in and around the publishing world. It’s like having a personal coach who provides you with exercises and resources to help you understand more about a new area in publishing or improve your skills in your chosen field. From running your first virtual event, to harnessing metadata, to writing a cover brief, there is a wide range of courses out there. Here were my top three:

The productive publisher

I was so happy to see a familiar face on this course. I have worked with Bec Evans before and I really admire her charisma and kindness and, of course, her productivity. Within the first two minutes, Bec mentioned an author I admire, Octavia E. Butler, and I was completely on board. Bec’s exercises help you define what ‘success’ looks like in your eyes and created a visual representation of that journey that I found really helpful. I feel confident with my time management skills but Bec’s advice helped me consider new methods to strengthen it even more. I am ready to embrace my procrastination moments and harness them as my warm-up!

Running a marketing campaign on a limited budget

I do not work in marketing directly but I know that marketing strategies and costs come up in my day-to-day projects a lot. It is a skill to balance budget restrictions and marketing goals and Ellie Pilcher, the coach for this CAMPUS course, is the master of marketing. Ellie provides questions that help you define the potential of your campaign. Who is your target audience? How can you harness reviews into eye-catching taglines? Ellie also explains how social media can be used best and cost-effectively. This course showed that a limited budget does not mean your ideas are limited, some very creative and successful campaigns can come from budget restraints.

Next level management skills

My goal in the next 5 years would be to reach a management level in my career so it’s never too early to understand more about management and grow my skills. I think this course also helped me analyse the relationships I have with managers too and how they help my journey. Nancy Roberts is a great coach on this course and really focused on the soft skills which are the key to being an effective manager. She encourages self awareness and helps you recognise why it is important. There are also great questions in this course to help you assess your self-control, an extremely important exercise for managers. I want to know that my managers are putting time into self-care so they can be prepared for what I may throw at them. Life is unpredictable!

BookMachine also sends you handy emails along the way, spurring you on to complete the course. I thought that was a really nice touch.

It’s not just about CAMPUS though. BookMachine is a great resource in general. There are forums where you can meet new people and discuss current issues in publishing. There are also live and virtual events for members. In December there was a publishing walk-and-talk in Greenwich and a comedy night online!

BookMachine also shares job opportunities in publishing, highlights members every month and their Wednesday Wisdom Q&A videos are fun and insightful.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s now a handy BookMachine app so you can take everything with you and check back in to your CAMPUS course in a coffee shop, on your lunch break or on your commute (whenever commutes do start up again).

BookMachine is a place for anyone in publishing who craves development and enjoys growing their network. It’s an essential tool in 2022 and beyond. Find out more at bookmachine.org.

When publishing pops up in Christmas films

Just like many jobs in films, publishing is portrayed unrealistically. And some of my favourite Christmas films fall into this trap. Here’s a short list of my favourite Christmas films that represent publishing well and some that really don’t.

Just like many jobs in films, publishing is portrayed unrealistically. And some of my favourite Christmas films fall into this trap. Here’s a short list of my favourite Christmas films that represent publishing well and some that really don’t.

The Holiday

If you haven’t seen The Holiday, I’ll set the scene. Kate Winslet plays Iris, a columnist for The Telegragh who still isn’t over an ex. When she hears he’s newly engaged, she looks for somewhere new to spend the holidays and take her mind off everything. Cue Cameron Diaz’s character Amanda who has been cheated on. They message online and decide to swap houses for the holidays. And on the first night that Amanda stays in Iris’ English cottage, Jude Law shows up. His character is Iris’ brother Graham and he’s an editor.

I won’t spoil too much more. It’s a great, feel-good film.

However one lovely publishing peep on Twitter (sorry I can’t remember who, too many good tweets recently) pointed out the STATE of Graham’s house. I mean look at this…

The idea that this could be bought on an editor’s salary is what makes Christmas films so wonderful and yet so irritating at the same time. This film came out in 2006. BookCareers.com estimates that, in 2004, the average starting salary in publishing was £16,300. I don’t know what strings Graham was pulling to buy this Surrey house as an editor alone but I would love to know! But the office is gorgeous. The Holiday is worth a watch just for house envy alone.

Elf

Yep, that’s right. There’s a publishing house in Elf!

Buddy’s father works for Greenway Publishing, a children’s books publisher, which is situated in The Empire State Building if you can believe it. Buddy’s dad is grappling with a reprint of a children’s book that’s missing two pages when he first meets Buddy. He decides to ship them without the pages – publishing matters helping characterisation, we love to see it.

And how who can forget the meeting with Peter Dinklage’s character and Buddy? Classic.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Here’s one that I think went under the radar a few years ago. I love it so much. This Christmas film dramatizes the writing and publication of A Christmas Carol. After publishing 3 books in a year with his publisher, Dickens is struggling to sell his next idea. He asks for an advance while his pen can only blot ink on the page without a single word.

Dan Stevens stars as Charles Dickens in The Man Who Invented Christmas.

It is only through the people he meets in the film that the story pours out of him.

The publishers are uncertain at first questioning if anyone celebrates Christmas anymore (if only they knew), mirroring Scrooge of courese.

As history tells us, A Christmas Carol was published on 19th December 1843. By Christmas Eve, every copy was sold. And charitable giving soared overnight. It really has shaped our view of Christmas and I’m so pleased there is a film out there to celebrate the work of a very clever author.

I also love the dynamic between Dickens and William Thackeray, played by Miles Jupp who always seems to be doing so well when Dickens is not.

Have you spied any other moments when publishing pops up in Christmas films? Let me know on Twitter and tag @thatpubblogger.