Industry Insights: Amy Catherine Watson
By Leyla Mehmet, Elizabeth Guess, Kathryn Smith and Aimee Whittle
For this issue, we interviewed Amy Catherine Watson, Marketing Manager at Head of Zeus.
Could you tell us a bit about your route into publishing?
I discovered the world of publishing whilst I was studying for my English Literature degree. I won a publishing internship at my university, and secured a few other placements before graduating, all of which helped me land my first job.
Whilst I was completing an internship at a magazine publisher in Cambridgeshire, I was offered a Marketing Coordinator role at Cambridge University Press. During almost ten years at the press, I moved around roughly every 2 years. Cambridge University Press is a huge company, and I think lots of people outside of the sector underestimate academic and educational publishing. They’re gigantic industries, which meant that there were lots of interesting projects to work on.
I was promoted from Coordinator to Executive, and then to Senior Marketing Executive in recognition of the campaigns I’d worked on and the experience I had developed. I really enjoyed my time at the press but I always knew that I wanted to try my hand at trade marketing, and this was cemented when I got the opportunity to work on the CUP’s trade list. I jumped for joy when I was offered a Marketing Manager role at Head of Zeus!
What drew you to study and now work in marketing, in particular within the publishing industry?
At the beginning I didn’t want a role in marketing. Whilst I was studying for my English degree all I knew was that I really wanted to work in publishing, and it was an editorial role I was initially after. It was a happy accident that once I landed my Marketing Coordinator role, I discovered that I loved marketing and I was quite good at it.
Because I stumbled across my marketing career, once I became a Marketing Executive I felt like I needed more formal training to help me understand the theory behind what I was doing and why. I was fortunate that the CUP paid for me to do a Marketing Diploma, and it certainly gave me more confidence – I still use the techniques and skills I learnt today.
What skills do you think are most valuable to develop for someone who is looking to work in marketing?
I worked in retail before I joined publishing, and that taught me a number of things including people skills, the ability to prioritise, how to work under pressure, and teamwork. These are all important transferable skills that I learnt in a seemingly completely unrelated job. I also learnt public speaking and communication skills whilst studying for my degree. Good marketers need to be able to listen to both customers and colleagues, and present information clearly using the tools at their disposal. It’s certainly helpful to be inquisitive and to be willing to try new things, but most importantly I really believe that you need to show initiative in order to succeed.
Could you tell us about a unique project that you have worked on recently?
I’m really excited to be working with Lọlá Ákínmádé Åkerström on the paperback publication of her debut novel In Every Mirror She’s Black. Lọlá is a Nigerian-American author who is now based in Sweden, and her book explores what it means to be a Black woman in the world. It was recently chosen as a Good Morning America’s Buzz Pick, and has received rave reviews from The Independent, Closer, and The Gloss Magazine. I went to Lọlá’s book launch during my second or third week at Head of Zeus, and to be able to work on the marketing campaign for the paperback makes me hugely proud to work at Head of Zeus.
What would you say is your career highlight thus far?
Landing my current job as a Marketing Manager at Head of Zeus. It was a long-held dream of mine to work in the trade sector, but upon graduating it felt like there were several barriers in my way. Not only was trade incredibly competitive (and remains so today), but I didn’t know anyone that worked in the sector and I couldn’t afford to live and work in London for lengthy internships (which would have, in all likelihood, either been unpaid or barely covered my expenses). I’ve definitely seen positive change over the past ten years, and I think companies now make more effort to support people from a variety of backgrounds to enter this amazing industry.
What’s an upcoming Head of Zeus book we should all be looking out for?
I am really excited to be working on the marketing campaign for Lily Lindon’s debut romcom novel, Double Booked, which comes out in June. It’s a fresh, timely and genuinely laugh-out-loud romantic comedy about a sensible young woman in a long-term relationship who realises she's bisexual. I also couldn’t fail to mention Elodie Harper’s sequel to The Wolf Den, The House with the Golden Door, which publishes in May.