Although it started off as a cold, wet October evening, our moods were immediately brightened by the sight of wine and biscuits upon arrival. This was a great way to get everyone mingling around and networking, even before the talks started.
Once everyone had arrived we went through to a performance room in Martin Hall where we were greeted by our hosts for the evening: Ruvani De Silva and Bobby Nayyar.
Ruvani gave the first talk. She is the publicity manager at Zed Books – a niche publisher focussing on political books with an international focus – and was here to talk about publicity in a niche market.
To be a good publicist, you need to be:
– Social and interactive
– Well organised
– Excellent communication skills
– Good writing and copy-writing skills
– Attention to detail
Zed Books is a small publisher with only ten staff that publishes around 10 books a year. Working in a niche market means that the publicist has limited resources, so creativity is important in a book’s success. A publicist would need to be inventive in creating a brand for the company to maximise exposure and getting people in the know about their products. It is important for people to know who are as a company, not just your label on the spine of a book. So, it is also necessary for a publicist to have a thorough knowledge of the front and back list of the company to let people know what your company does.
As resources are limited in niche publishing, social media and the internet are fantastic sources for publicity, because they are free. It is also a good way to connect with authors. Working directly with authors is a mutually beneficial process in publicity. Authors tend to like the professional approach of a niche publisher and it will be a more co-operative experience. Most authors will have an online fan base, so social media is crucial in spreading the word of new releases to these fans and maximising the publicity.
Overall, this was a great talk, giving us an insight to what it is like to be a publicist and showing us that there are more careers in the publishing that are equally as important as editorial.
After the success of the Publishing Master-Classes held earlier this year, we were lucky enough to welcome back Bobby Nayyar, the host of “Publishing Startups: Five Key Lessons”. As well as being the Managing Director of Limehouse books, Bobby is also a fellow of Equip who help promote equality in UK publishing. This time round he was here to hold the second talk of the evening and teach us the importance of networking, using the following five steps:
1. Figure out what your existing network is – who do you already know, and who do you know because of them?
2. What’s your story? – Work out what makes you stand out from other people. Try to casually sell yourself.
3. Know the difference between open and closed questions – Closed questions can only be answered with yes or no, whereas open questions allow people to expand and make for a more involved conversation.
4. Know when to move on – When networking it is important to know when and how to enter and leave a conversation.
5. Following up – if you gain contacts, make sure you e-mail them as soon as you can, so they don’t forget you and so that you make a lasting impression.
Using websites such as Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to build your network and keep up to date with what is going on in the industry that you are interested in pursuing a career in. It also allows potential employers to see what you are involved in, and gain a basic idea of what kind of person you are.
After the talks, we were encouraged to practise our new networking skills, and Ruvani and Bobby were kind enough to stay behind and chat with us about further events with Equip and internships with Zed books.
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