Guest Post: Lea Tierney, Book Marketer Extraordinaire! (Part Two)

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.


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