Christina Storey is Sales and Marketing Assistant at Allison & Busby, an independent publisher. Here, she speaks to us about her journey into publishing and what her role entails.
Tell us about your journey into publishing. Did you always want to work in publishing?
I always read books as a child and throughout my teenage years but as a teen I thought I wanted to be a fashion journalist. I actually had a fashion blog called Style Storey (honestly, my surname works with a lot of things). It was when I was in my first year of university that I came across booktube, book blogs and YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) and started following more authors on Twitter. I attended YALC on my own and sat in on a talk where they explained all the different areas in publishing. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head and I knew this was the industry for me. Since then, I kept up to date with the industry on Twitter and The Bookseller and, after graduation, was a bookseller for eight months before going and spending the whole of 2019 in Australia which taught me so much.
What is it like being both a Sales and Marketing Assistant?
It’s so good! I’ve only been doing the job for a month so I am still so new to it, but I do honestly already love it. We are such a small team so I am involved in sales, marketing and publicity - there is a lot to do! I feel like I had quite a good grasp on what marketing and publicity were before this job, but sales was a little bit of a mystery. This role is great though, because I get to learn so much in all the different areas. I think it’s a really great starting point to my career as I’m going to get a broad oversight of the whole publishing process and find out what I’m good at, what I struggle with and what I enjoy!
How did you tailor your application to suit both areas? Did you have any experience that was relevant for both?
I’ve been a bookseller, interned at a PR Agency, helped with social media at a publishers and done a whole load of customer service roles. I was a little worried as I didn’t have as much office experience but I think my experience in the marketing side of things, as well as my drive and passion, helped me in the interview stage. When tailoring my application, I made sure I highlighted my time as a bookseller for the sales side of things and my experience on social media for the marketing side of things.
What does your typical day look like, if there is such a thing?
Every morning when I get in I go through my to-do list, have a quick check on systems - Biblio, Nielsen, Amazon Advantage, See-view - to check if anything I’ve implemented in the past few days (title changes, price changes, etc) has been updated. I’ll then get to work on sales grids - collating our titles for a specific month (normally about 3-4 months ahead of time) and sending them to sales agents, wholesalers and distributors, such as The Bookseller. Other things I’m responsible for are Netgalley, scheduling and creating content for social media, keeping in contact with reviewers and mailing out review copies to press, as well as keeping sales agents informed of upcoming titles and any changes, creating the monthly newsletter and keeping the website up to date - all the things!
Tell us about how you came up with the idea for the Publishing Hopefuls Facebook Group, which now has 1,500 members!
I was on The Slumbering Slothcast Podcast with Emma Ronan (publishing hopeful) talking about my Instagram book club and I realised once we came off the call that we were in the same boat, as were many others on Twitter. Honestly, it’s one of my favourite things; it has grown so much and is such a hub of activity of publishing hopefuls, so I’m really proud of it.
Has there been anything you’ve found hard or particularly challenging about your role or starting out in the publishing industry?
I think all the metadata was a bit of a shock to me as it was so new! I was pretty overwhelmed with all the systems and processes of everything at the start and had little experience in anything similar to it. Now with guidance, training and just learning by doing, I’ve started to get on top of things and I realise just how beneficial it is that I’m learning this all early on in my career.
What advice would you give someone looking for their first role in publishing?
Join Publishing Hopefuls, get involved in the community on Twitter, network through social media, watch all the virtual events you can and just get a feel for the industry. This will give you support and knowledge when you start applying or at the interview stages. Learn all you can!