Industry Insights: Ellie Pilcher
By Aimee Whittle, Leyla Mehmet, Elizabeth Guess, Kathryn Smith and Chloe Francis
For this issue, we interviewed Ellie Pilcher to learn more about her journey into publishing and current role as Marketing Manager at Avon, HarperCollins...
How did you get into the publishing industry?
I started working in publishing when I was twenty-years-old. I was at university and whilst looking for a literary agent – as a writer – I stumbled across an ad for an internship at a literary agency. I applied on the off-chance and got lucky. It was one day a week, and I was in the role for six months. It was unpaid, but they covered all my expenses. But I was very shy and didn’t ask as many questions as I should have done. When I got my first full-time job in publishing after graduating, I really focused on socialising and networking to meet new people, but also advocated my strengths, and in my case that meant social media.
I worked as an Administrator at Atwood Tate Publishing Recruitment and I loved every second. It gave me a bird’s eye view of the entire publishing industry, not just trade publishing but B2B (business-to-business), academic, educational, etc. I got to hone my marketing skills on their website and social media, and later got a promotion to Social Media Coordinator. Less than a year after that, I started as Marketing and Publicity Executive at Canelo.
What are your main responsibilities as a Marketing Manager?
As Marketing Manager at Avon, HarperCollins, I work on every single title we publish. I brainstorm, design for and implement every campaign we do, between 30-50 campaigns a year. My day-to-day is very different each day. One day is full of meetings to discuss new books and strategies, other days I’m meeting with partners and getting training in new ways of marketing. I love the ‘lucky dip’ feel of marketing, and the sense that you’re at the heart of making a book work.
What have been some of your career highlights?
Winning three BMS (Book Marketing Society) awards in eighteen months was a spectacular highlight, particularly as two of those campaigns were run during full-on lockdowns. Being named a Trailblazer in 2020 was lovely! Such a high accolade to be nominated for, let alone win. And starting my #MarketYourMarketing workshop has been fantastic. I’ve met so many new people, developed my own skills through teaching and I get a real high when I see publishing hopefuls succeed.
What advice would you give someone looking for, or just starting, their first role in publishing?
If you’re looking for a role you need to have a few things: a thick skin, patience and confidence in yourself. It’s always hard getting started out in any creative industry, but publishing is incredibly competitive and there are only so many entry level roles at a time. You need to share your skills online, think outside the box when applying for different roles and just keep trying. And if you’re starting your first role in the industry then my biggest tip is: never be afraid to ask for help. I think there’s a sense that we need to be grateful to be in this industry and any little slip up will mean we’re not worthy or good enough, and that’s not the case. We all need help, at every level of our career but particularly when we’re new.
Do you also have any advice for those who are seeking freelance work?
Utilise websites like LinkedIn and Reedsy to network and offer your services. Reach out to people for networking opportunities i.e. other freelancers who are in the same boat as you, people you admire in the industry, and people that you’d love to work with but need to establish a relationship with first. Advocate for yourself online, showcase your work, your skills, and your successes.
Are there any projects you are working on at the moment that we should be looking out for?
In terms of my work at Avon, we have some mega books coming out in 2022 that I’m super excited for! A Spoonful of Murder by J.M. Hall, One Last Letter from Greece by Emma Cowell and a new C.L. Taylor are just three of many to come. In terms of my freelancing and writing, it’s all in the works but nothing I can report on yet… so watch this space.
Which book has been your favourite read of 2021?
My favourite read of 2021… can I have two? My non-fiction favourite is The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. A difficult read but so important and so well done. And my favourite fiction read is a book coming out in 2022 and that is One For Sorrow by Helen Fields. Yes, it’s an Avon book but it is the most masterful crime fiction book I’ve read in ages! It’s a proper heart-in-mouth-scream-in-throat-can’t-believe-that-happened kind of book.