Welcome back! If you attended yesterday’s simposium, you’ll remember that Lea Tierney is an up-and-coming Marketing expert and the poor person assigned to plug Greaveburn when it’s released this summer. She must have been bad in a former life, that’s all I can say. Yesterday she told us about what life is like post-uni for many young people in our country. Bloody scary. And today she’s going to tell us all about finding her place as an intern for Inspired Quill Publishing.
Becoming an Intern at Twenty Four Years of Age
All of this, I realise, doesn’t make up for a marketing qualification but I already have a degree: I have already shown I can study and learn the theory. What I really needed was experience and professional recommendations to show that I can do the job. I did an awful lot of thinking at this point about the best thing to do to gain experience: could I really afford to give up my paid job – that was providing great opportunity for self development and networking – to do an internship that wasn’t guaranteed to improve my prospects? Not really, but I did consider it and, in hindsight (such a fine thing), I should have done internships as university (although I couldn’t really afford to do it then either as my student loan didn’t cover my rent so I had to maintain part time paid employment the whole time).
So, what do you do when you get to twenty four years of age, knowing its three years since you graduated, you still don’t have the job you always wanted and you’re still living with your parents? You know which career path you want and which skills you already have that you can utilise. The next step is to bag the experience and recommendations that you are looking for. Surprisingly I found that finding an internship was remarkably easy: employers are desperate for passionate, bright and enthusiastic types to join them and, if you’re already online, there are some really helpful groups out there waiting to help. Yes, it is, essentially, free labour. You should, however, bear in mind that this is a mutually beneficially arrangement, they do get to benefit from your skills for the time you agree to spend with them, but you get a whole lot in return: quality experience, recommendation, training, networking opportunities, support from experienced colleagues and the confidence to apply for roles that will then be suited to the level of experience that you have achieved – by yourself.
I found one of my internships through GraduatesNeedExperience who were advertising on behalf of Inspired Quill Publishers: looking for a marketing intern to join their marketing programme. Now I had been crossing my fingers hoping for the kind of opportunity that would slot nicely into my current life style without much expecting it to happen and then, here it was: a minimum of ten hours commitment per week, working from home on an assigned author’s marketing plan for their book launch. This was it, the perfect opportunity! At the same time I also managed to organise two, one week long, internships for my pre booked holiday time. I waited with baited breath for two weeks to see if my application to the Inspired Quill programme had been successful and was thrilled when I received an email, late one Sunday evening, from Sara Slack (founder of Inspired Quill) informing me that I was, in fact, ideal for their programme. Now, what’s so exciting about being an Inspired Quill intern? I’ll let Sara explain the premise of her publishing house here:
Well, we started out as a book review blog in 2009. At University, there was a scheme running called ‘Enterprise Inc’, which offered a token amount of funding and a very intensive business-skills course to people with an idea that they wished to develop into a business. I had the idea of creating paid-for-content on the site, so I signed up and was approved.
Over the course of that…course…I adapted my idea, and by the end of it, I incorporated IQ as a not-for-profit publishing house on April 5th, 2011.
Our target audience is difficult, because obviously that shifts between each book. In terms of our authors, it’s primarily new authors that we aim for – because we’re very into skills development…but that’s not exclusive. I suppose in a, fairly fluffy term, we’re aimed (both readers and authors) to forward-thinkers. We love tradition, as long as it doesn’t stand in the way of progress.
Our books are printed and distributed by a company called Lightning Source, which is part of the Ingram group. They use ecologically sustainable forests, and since we’re utilising their Print on Demand system, books are only printed when they are ordered, which means we don’t have five hundred spare at the end of a print run. This distribution system includes all of the major shops: Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith and Barnes&Noble. We have distribution contracts which include the UK, the US, Mainland Europe and Australia.
The next step for us is to enhance our standing and really start emerging as a true, quality alternative to the ‘Big Six’ publishing houses. At the same time, we need to work on the ‘Social Enterprise’ side of things. To begin with, that will obviously be more to do with how we utilise our time, since we’re not in a financially stable enough position to do anything on much of a scale yet.
There are many things about Sara’s explanation of what Inspired Quill stands for that make me very excited to be one of their interns. One of these things is just how new IQ is meaning there is so much potential for growth, development and creativity: for IQ itself, for its “staff” and for its interns. It also means there will have been plenty of things that haven’t yet been done by IQ before. Plus, IQ is further proof to me that a simple blog page can lead on to bigger and greater things.
The fact that IQ is founded on the principles of being a Social Enterprise is very important to me: to know that they see themselves as part of a bigger picture – as all books are – is vital to understanding the ethos of the company. Obviously part of being a social enterprise is being an environmentally friendly publishing house. It also involves:
Being a Social Enterprise, Inspired Quill is already looking toward the future, where our aim is to develop and present a number of creative writing workshops to disadvantaged areas. Our main focus will be with Young Adults, Single Parents, and individuals with Disabilities. Why do we want to do this? Well, we believe that the power of creative storytelling is huge, and it is surprising at how many other skills can be developed just by being given the tools to start on a creative journey, and being given a safe place to show that creativity.
What’s not to love about this publishing house? Then, of course, there’s the author I have been assigned to based on my answers to questions Sara posed to me when I accepted a place on the course. I have to say that Sara is very intuitive having kindly given me an author I have already built a fantastic working relationship with.
So there you have it. The journey begins. I wont post what Lea put about working with me because she’s far too nice and I’ll get a big head. Suffice to say, you’ll be hearing a lot more from her in the future. So keep your eyes peeled. She might have some knowledge to impart about marketing your own books!
Thanks for reading.
Hi everyone. Today, we have part one of Lea’s story. Not only is she an up-and-coming marketing genius, but she’s the marketing genius behind the release of Greaveburn! In today’s post, she shows us that Marketing is like any other job, and astoundingly similar to making a break in writing. That is, it’s damn hard. Take a look at what she’s been up to since she graduated:
Finding the Right Path to Go Down
This July will be my third year since graduating. What have I done with this time? Well, on the face of it I have simply been working in a shop, keeping my head down, waiting for my life to start. And, to an extent, for some of the time I probably have done a bit of this when I’ve become disillusioned with how damn hard it is to get to where you want to be in life. Throughout school, college and even university itself we were all told that degrees are the keys to success, the door opener, the life starter: but that has proven to be far from the case. I can’t tell you how many jobs I have applied for across how many industries. Most of those job applications haven’t even resulted in a “thanks but no thanks” email. In part, it’s because my CV needed rewriting. It was also due to me not really having decided where I wanted to go in my career. I also found that I quite enjoyed the job that I had fallen into after I left university and was unsure as to whether that meant that this was where I was meant to be.
The role I am currently in doesn’t require a degree at all. However, would I have brought the same thing to the role if I hadn’t done a degree? Maybe, maybe not. It’s no secret to my employers that my current job isn’t my “dream job”, but they do know I appreciate the opportunity to simply have a job – very much – and have given it my absolute all.
This job has allowed me to grow as a person and I have been able to figure out what it is that I am really good at and which transferable skills and passions I have that would actually lead me to a career. It finally dawned on me a couple of months back the things that really make me tick at work:
- Planning and leading promotional events
- Working with local businesses and media to promote and improve events
- Writing copy, my own blogs and promoting this via social media sites
- Working with my team to create a real buzz and atmosphere about the things we do everyday
- Coming up with creative new ways to promote new products and engage customers in these products
The things I love doing at work do, actually, translate into a job role and are in many a job specification for people in the marketing/events/pr category. It helps a lot that a more positive outlook led to greater productivity on the creative writing front: disillusionment can be a little bit of a block to writing. A good friend of mine used WordPress to publish her creative writing thoughts in the form of a comical run through of her life via blog and she seemed to take a real sense of achievement from this so I figured, maybe, this could work for me too. It helped that I had written a couple of brief focus features for the Kent Messenger as part of my promotional work in my current role and had received some fantastic feedback on these: getting someone to read something you want to publish before you do so is crucial. Now, I’m not saying blogging is the cure to all evil but it really has had a pretty profound effect on me. My blog “It’s A Wonderful Life” on WordPress isn’t ever going to win any prizes but it has:
- Helped me to improve my writing/editing skills
- Improved on my self-promotion skills
- Illustrated the importance of social media in promotion
- Connected me with some really great like minded people – as well as some really great, not so like minded people – WordPress provides a floor for discussion like I had never seen before
From the success of my WordPress blog came my KentOnline blog – expanding my audience and the opportunity to network and receive feedback on my work. Ok, so three years down the line from graduating I have finally figured out which career path is right for me, now what? Well, a whole lot of research was what came next: what qualifications or experience would I need to bag myself my dream job? I found that, much like everything else, marketing has gone digital – in a major way. I was going to need a strong online presence and a professional digital self. I created an account on LinkedIn and started using Twitter to engage in conversations with and about my chosen field. I signed up for online webinars which I watched in my own time and joined online groups to keep abreast of the latest updates in the industry. I also signed up to receive as much free relevant reading material as possible. I bought myself an incredibly easy to read and insightful book on marketing based on the recommendations of one of the staff at Waterstones “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” written by David Meerman Scott. Reading this book has made me realise that the skills needed to be a successful marketer are certainly transferable and I just need to make sure I maintain my focus as well as an open mind to new opportunities.
That’s it for today, folks. Come back tomorrow to see how Lea manages to juggle her internship with my Publisher, Inspired Quill, and life in general.
Thanks for reading.
With Greaveburn on its way Inspired Quill have seen fit to assign me my own Marketing Womble, as I like to call her. (Hi Lea! More from her soon!) And since we’ve been working together on our plans for world domination, it’s got me to wondering how I ever managed to do all this myself with Not Before Bed. To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure. But, in an effort to help you lot do the same (while avoiding my mistakes) I thought I’d do a rundown of the steps I took in getting NBB to where it is today. So here we go:
1. Your writing persona
Whether we like it or not, our work as writers/artists/whatever-it-is-you-do isn’t just read/viewed in a vacuum. How you come across is vitally important to whether you’re accepted or not by readers, agents and publishers alike. With this in mind, we need to start thinking about your writing persona. By this, I don’t mean dressing in black, wearing a beret and dark glasses to all your public appearances (although, if that floats your boat…). What I mean is the image you generate; mostly online. We’ve all been bitten by a badly worded email or forum post before. Typing in capitals is shouting etc. And as writers, we REALLY have to be careful. Not only do people expect eloquence and perfect grammar, but think about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Humour, especially, is a mine field online with all kinds of interpretations going wrong with the simplest of statements. Be careful! Because these people don’t know you’re generally nice and generous and utterly wonderful. All they see is your words. And grudges are borne easily. Also, with this in mind, think about what you want people to know, and what people NEED to know. Do you want to be complaining about your unrelated day job to potential readers? Do they need to know about your cat’s bowel operation? Probably not, no. And that leads us on to…
2. Social Networking Sites
This is the true necessary evil of creating your writing persona. Your Twitter, Facebook and whatever-else are how people interact with you. Be tactile! Talk and tweet about subjects around your work, and people will find you. With that comes a simple suggestion: Dont just plug your book, over and over. No one likes a plugger The counter to my Pro-networking argument is that you are a writer, so don’t let social networking distract you from actually creating. It’s shiny, and interesting and enthralling. Don’t get sucked too far in!
3. Spread yourself around
Yes, you literary hussy, spread yourself around. If you’ve networked properly, you should now know lots of like-minded people. Be polite then…ask favours. Will they guest post on your blog? And don’t forget to offer to reciprocate. It’s this part that’s particularly important. Getting on other people’s sites and blogs gets you seen. Go for it!
This can be a real-time consumer, so picking a few forums and making a good impression is often more beneficial than just dipping in and out. People need to get to know you (or your persona) if they’re going to take an interest. The same stands as before. Don’t just plug your book. Pick threads that will discuss topics around your genre/content and insinuate yourself into them. Remember, if no-one’s talking to you, don’t fear. Forums can be cliquey. Dont be afraid to drop the forum and move elsewhere. Bonus Tip: Goodreads forums are generally full of very polite, nice folk who love to read. Start there!
5. Money, money, money
Do NOT pay for someone to do this lot for you. There are too many “pro” marketers on the net who actually work in Kwik Save as a shelf stacker (slight generalisation). This is nothing you can’t do yourself.
6. Beg, borrow, steal
That’s right. You’re an amateur writer. You need help to get your career into the big time. No author is an island, as they (don’t) say. So ask for help. Beg favours. Most people will be only too happy to help. Which leads us into…
7. Act like a Big Shot
Got your book out? Then hit the locals. Newspapers, radio shows, libraries. Make your own mini-tour in your local area. Local interest can go a long way toward helping you. Write horror? Do it at Halloween. Romance. Valentine’s Day is the time for your tour. Erotica? Well…anytime is good for that! ;D
8. Speculate to accumulate
It don’t have to spend much to make it look like you are. Vistaprint.com will sort you with professional-looking business cards, posters, leaflets etc. for your mini-tour. There are even banners and T-shirts if you really want to go for it. And a Goodreads giveaway is a great way of getting enthusiastic readers who you can be sure will review afterward. The giveaways are very easy to do with the website doing all of the hard work. All you have to do is turn up, and then distribute afterward.
9. The Golden Tip
Your work is you. Be careful. Double check. Use Beta readers. Get your mum to read it, if you like. But don’t put out a sub par product. The excitement can carry you away, rush you. Don’t let it.
I hope this lot will help you out. It certainly did for me. Anyone else got any tips to share?
Thanks for reading.