By Jennifer Hill, Aimee Whittle and Leah Bird
This issue we interviewed Aimee Dewar to find out more about her role with BookMachine and experience freelancing.
Tell us about your journey into publishing.
I completed an MA Publishing course in 2016 where I learned how to use InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator, typeset a commercial non-fiction book, ran workshops and meetings, crafted event copy, made industry connections and did A LOT of public speaking. I also interned for two months with the marketing team at Intellect Books, attended the London Book Fair and volunteered at children’s book events at schools. After graduating, I went to a publishing event and bumped into a designer and typesetter who were looking for a freelance design and marketing assistant to join the team. I was able to hone my skills in typesetting and creating artwork, preparing materials for print and building excellent client relationships. In 2018, I joined the London committee of the Society of Young Publishers as their social media manager. This all led me to the next step in my career at BookMachine.
Which skills do you think were most useful for getting your full-time job at BookMachine?
Communication skills, both face-to-face, on Zoom and via email. Being quick, clear and professional is a skill I dip into daily. In addition, good collaboration skills and running meetings as well as learning how to keep to a schedule and topic. This is closely followed by some technical know-how: knowing my way around WordPress and marketing tools like Mailchimp as well as understanding how to use social media to reach the right audience. Knowing how to create impactful marketing materials such as social media graphics and PowerPoint slide decks have helped me enormously.
Can you tell us more about what your day to day job looks like with BookMachine?
I help to run the BookMachine Community, working to provide the value, knowledge and resources that help people progress in their careers. I strategise to help bring new ideas and insights to our members, making sure we are communicating with them effectively. I am the primary contact for members who need support and assistance. I create emails for our mailing list as well as plan paid and organic social campaigns, creating and developing the branding for our community. I regularly touch base with our partners and sponsors to ensure they are reaching the right audiences. I also work with agency clients on asset design and digital marketing.
How important is networking when building a career in publishing?
Confident networking skills were a must for me when it came to feeling like a part of the industry. I would also recommend making new publishing friends via networking events. Meeting others who are in their first role, or who are still hoping to enter the industry, can be a lifeline. Many aspects of the industry remain closed off and making connections with peers and entry-level pals can help break down barriers, offer a sense of community and provide genuine friendship during what can be an isolating time. There are lots of online gatherings, workshops and membership communities in the industry, including BookMachine and the SYP.
What kind of applications/software do you use in your role?
We use Wordpress for our website, Zoom to run our events, Mailchimp for our newsletter campaigns, Otter.ai for captions and subtitles, Canva and Adobe Creative Suite for marketing materials, social graphics and video animations, Basecamp for project management, Google Drive for collaborating and social media tools Later, Hootsuite, and Buffer.
How did you get into freelancing?
My MA was part-time which meant I was able to start building my freelancing portfolio alongside my studies. I searched for opportunities, mostly on postgraduate job boards, where local businesses were seeking marketing, design and copywriting support from postgraduate students with the skills they needed. I also took a part-time freelance position with a recruitment agency which offered me the security to start building my brand and services in the publishing world.
What makes a successful freelancer and how do you find jobs as a freelancer?
Transparency is incredibly important. Be clear about what your services cover, what’s included in your quotes, when you can start, what will count as an extra and the time it will take. Tracking your time early on and reviewing your rates will allow you to start scaling more quickly and find out what works for you.
When it comes to finding work as a freelancer, I would recommend connecting with people whose freelance work complements yours. Team up! Build up a library of referral partners who you work with repeatedly and can recommend to clients.