SYP Conference 2022 – Publishing Inside Out – Reflect, Engage, Grow

Last week Senior Consultants Rhiannon Griffiths and Alice Bidetti attended the virtual and in-person SYP Conference – Rhiannon had the pleasure of speaking on the virtual Nailing Publishing Job Applications Panel on CV’s and Covering letters, and Alice was very excited to chair the first panel of the day at the physical conference on Paths to Publishing. It was a fantastic day full of brilliant panelists and fascinating conversations, we’ve summarised our top ten takeaways below!

  1. In her opening Keynote Speech, Perminder Mann CEO of Bonnier Books UK spoke about how publishing is a much more vibrant, open and welcoming industry from when she started, but we have the potential to make it even better – we’re lucky to work in a sector with the power and a platform to make the world a better place, and for the future of publishing, continuing on a journey to ensure  the industry, people, and the books better represent the world that we are living in.
  2. During the Paths to Publishing panel, the panelists discussed the transferable skills from outside of publishing that can be really useful – for entry level roles things like office administration experience, using Excel, having to prioritise and being organised.
  3. It’s also great to build up your knowledge of the industry – look at news articles on The Bookseller, look at what books are in the charts, what’s on social media – BookTok is also the place to be right now! Don’t forget about your local library also, see what’s going on there.
  4. We got a fantastic insight into publishing a book from idea to publication on The Book Journey panel, where we heard from the team at Indigo Press and one of their authors, Nataliya Deleva. Interestingly, Phoebe Barker their Marketing Manger spoke about how marketing will get involved from day 1 of the process – when they are considering a book, they’ll be looking at who the target audience is, what message they are sending and feeding back throughout the process.
  5. There was discussion on the move towards increasingly digital publishing during the Publishing as a Business panel; Emma Grundy Haigh from Joffe Books spoke about how Joffe books had always been digitally focus but they have noticed other publishers are getting more competitive. There are some great benefits such as accessibility for people with visual impairments (which is an inspiration behind Joffe), books can also be more affordable in e-book format, however there are also the challenges of digital poverty, which people having access to the devices. Also, not every genre translates well into digital, with children’s books and novelty especially tricky!
  6. There was also debate on what drives publishing, creativity of profit. Without profit, they can’t be creative but without creativity they won’t have profit, so there’s definitely a lot of overlap! Beth Fennell, Rights Executive at PRH Children’s mentioned how their bestsellers / evergreens make the profit which allows the editors to come to acquisition meetings with passion projects to invest in and take risks with unique and untold stories.
  7. In the Publishing Reportage panel, we heard from Chelsea Graham, founder of The Publishing Post, which is a free magazine for publishing hopefuls set up during the pandemic, which includes news and interviews with professionals, as Chelsea found that there were little free platforms to find out more about publishing the industry. They’ve now published over 1500 articles and given experience to 350 publishing hopefuls, which has also put them in touch with likeminded individuals. One great thing as well is that they don’t require any prior experience to contribute to the magazine, so it’s a good way to build that experience which will look amazing on job applications.
  8. During The Digital Sphere panel, there was discussion about the pressure to be online – people are often advised to have a blog, or a Bookstagram, or a BookTok. However, they had found that the feedback from recruiters is that they aren’t likely to be looking at it, unless it’s a social media role specifically. So, if it’s something you’re passionate about, it will be great to have, and will help you get on top of publishing trends too, but it’s not essential to get a job. For a marketing role, you just need the skillset and creativity to be able to post about a publisher’s books. Instead of obsessing over number of followers, you may be better spending time tailoring your applications and preparing for interviews with focused research!   
  9. Laura Summers from BookMachine spoke about some great positives from the digital world – being able to connect with people online, being able to work anywhere and being able to hire across the country – so being able to find the best people for the role without them all needing to move to London! She also spoke about how their courses would have previously been in person but now the training can be virtual and they are also working on an app where you can download the training and do it offline. However, all the panelists did mention they retain the preference for a physical book, so that’s not going anywhere!
  10. We ended the day with a really thought-provoking panel, Where Do We Go From Here. There was a discussion of various challenges within the industry, one in particular is the importance of not only bringing diverse authors and staff into the industry (for which there already are lots of schemes, internships and programmes in place), but of retaining them! For authors, its’ crucial to have editorial and marketing support, like being provided with a strong marketing campaign for their book for example. For staff, ensuring it’s a supportive environment for them to thrive in.!

We had a brilliant time and it’s left us with lots to think about! If you are looking for your next position our friendly team would be delighted to help, all of our details are here: