Collaboration in Publishing & Finding your ‘Tribe’

Inspiring author and co-founder of Hashtag Press, Abiola Bello has been hosting a series of #GirlsCanDoAnything panels for women who are working in publishing or looking to start their career in the industry. Last night, Kristy and Alice from Inspired attended the last panel in the series, which focused on collaboration and finding your 'tribe' within publishing.

The inspiring female speakers included authors, entrepreneurs and publishing professionals: Helen Lewis (co-director of Hashtag Press and director of Literally PR), Bec Evans (author of How to Have a Happy Hustle), Jazzmine Breary (Publicity and Sales Manager at Jacaranda), Neeta Oza (author of My Mini-Micro Mindset Manual), Becky Alexander (ex-managing Editor at Penguin, Bloomsbury and HarperCollins) and Alice Curry (founder of Lantana Publishing).

Abiola kicked us off by asking why collaboration is important in the first place, especially in publishing. From a business perspective, as Alice pointed out, you can’t found a publishing house without a network of collaborators and supporters; and if you look at the concept of publishing, you’ll realise that ‘collaboration is in its DNA’, since it’s all about sharing stories and ideas. She then went on to say that even small publishers should see each other as partners and not competitors - part of the reason Alice started Lantana Publishing was for more voices to be heard, she believes being collaborative can help promote more voices & perspectives as well as creating partnerships.

But collaboration is not just about working with other publishers and external businesses, it also means knowing the other internal departments of your own company. As Becky stated, if you’re an Editor you must understand the sales, production, design departments etc., or there will be no point in working on a book until perfection if that product won’t sell in the end.

We touched on wellbeing where we were all in agreement that our mental & general health is so, so important. We all need someone to bounce ideas off of and that’s where this collaboration can play a key part, and is where some of our best work can come from. Have too much to do in the day? Join the crew. Helen Lewis talked passionately about taking care of you, ‘there's this thing at the moment where we're all 'so busy, so busy' but that's not always a good thing. It's a myth that we should be working all the time.’ Taking care of you should be number one.

When talking about the influence of companies outside of the industry, Alice mentioned how it can also be interesting to communicate and share experiences with people from different industries. She noted that it can be eye-opening to compare different business models and team structures. Everyone has different expertise and networks of contacts, ultimately bringing more people together can only help the creative process, right? Being a small and successful business ourselves, we especially loved what Abiola said next “Anyone successful has a team – no team means no partner to chase your dreams with.”

Your team might not stay the same, it will likely change as you go on, but it’s essential to surround yourself with people who will support your ideas. As a brainstorming expert, Bec added that the team should also be diverse, since it has been proven that diversity leads to better and more creative ideas.

The panels top tips for getting your foot in the door were to start by looking for mentors who are already in the industry, or who will support you. Abiola commented on how crucial it is to be likeable! Make sure you leave a good impression as you never know what might happen later on. A key point she said, and definitely one to remember is ‘don't pretend to be what you think is publishing. Be your authentic self.’ Amongst the conversation was ask someone else to read your CV, get experience even if it’s from outside the industry, it will be your skills and experience that make you stand out. And also to not limit yourself to just looking at editorial or a set genre.

So how do you go on about finding your tribe? Jazzmine reassured us that it doesn’t matter if your tribe is not exactly in your local area, since technology has made it so easy to find them, build your following and identify important events and meet-ups. Abiola even started hosting her own events to bring her tribe to her, so there are a number of ways of making it happen, sometimes you just need to think outside the box.

Neeta is a strong believer that your tribe starts with you. The first step is admitting your ideas and dreams to yourself, so that you can then put them out into the world and find others who will believe in them too. Also, every part of you comes together when you look for the right tribe, all your hobbies and experiences, so you shouldn’t try to hide the bits of yourself that is not “strictly publishing”.

Ultimately if you want to collaborate you have to also bring something to the table, it needs to be a joint effort and not one sided. A huge thanks to Abiola for another fab event where we once again learnt that #GirlsCanDoAnything.

Another way to break into the industry and begin a new collaboration with us, is by getting in touch with our consultants Alice & Clare, who work on entry level roles and would love to help, send your CV to: a.bidetti@inspiredselection.com or c.addison@inspiredselection.com