top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Marketing Children’s Books: An Interview with Michaela O’Callaghan

By Emma Rogers 

Our former team member and Marketing Manager at Bounce Sales and Marketing, Michaela O’Callaghan, joins us this week to discuss her role in publishing and offers some top tips for getting into the industry! 

Can you tell us about your journey into the publishing industry? 

After university, when I was working full-time as a sales assistant at a toy supplier, I attended the SYP Oxford Conference, which gave me some brilliant insights into how to gain key marketing skills and experience…and I am not just saying that because I am the Society of Young Publishers’ UK Co-Chair! 

I was on a temporary contract as a sales assistant, but then, during lockdown, I kept busy doing freelance work, volunteer positions and internships. After this, I secured a longer-term digital marketing and e-commerce internship at Collins Learning. It was fully remote, which helped me enter the industry without living in London, and the team was really welcoming. I then moved into a Sales Assistant position at Bounce Sales and Marketing because I loved the idea of supporting independent children’s publishers! I have then developed within the company to the role of Marketing Manager, focusing primarily on trade marketing activities. 

You previously volunteered as a writer for the children’s team. How did this help you with getting a job in publishing? 

I got involved in The Publishing Post during my internship at Collins Learning and continued well into my first role at Bounce. Working remotely, I wanted to build connections with people within the industry, and The Publishing Post seemed like an obvious choice! I worked in both the Events and Children’s Team, and looking back, it is clear to see how they operated as stepping stones. For events, I came to know a lot more about the types of events publishers were running, which I built into my application for Events Officer at SYP UK. For children’s, it was great to spotlight different areas of the children’s industry. I know many of the people I worked with at The Publishing Post are now working on children’s books or in publishing! 

Can you tell us a bit about Bounce Sales and Marketing and your role there? 

Bounce is a sales agency that looks after roughly forty different children’s publishers, many of them independent. I work with publishers and the sales team to build trade marketing promotions to help get our books into independents, museums, toy shops, libraries, and more! Working across publishers means that it is always busy, and there is a lot to be done to help develop the materials the team needs and to think of ways to expand what we do across various markets. 

What has been your favourite thing about working at Bounce Sales and Marketing? 

I really enjoy getting out and about and visiting people – whether that is joining a rep on a sales trip, organising a bookseller evening or seeing children’s book lovers at conferences. Trade fairs are a lot of work, but they are always worth it in the end. It is great to see the books we represent being enjoyed. 

What would you say has been the biggest challenge for your team in the past year? 

Interesting question! Working across so many different children’s publishers is really fun, as you are always learning something new. However, it also means that there is always more that can be done, especially as we try to build our presence in different markets. We really know the value of direct rep visits, particularly for booksellers, so it is a bit of a juggling act trying to maintain and build upon pre-existing relationships whilst opening up new avenues. It is a fun challenge, though! 

Have you noticed any changes in the books being published within the children’s market over the past few years? 

I think it has been great to see the growth of graphic novels and illustrated young fiction over the years! It is nice how they are no longer viewed as ‘just for reluctant readers’ or a specific type of reader but can be enjoyed by readers of all ages! 

What is your number one tip for anybody looking to work in children’s publishing? 

My tip would be to make sure that you give yourself enough space to learn about children’s books. Read as many children’s books as you can, visit the children’s book section in bookshops, volunteer at your local library, become a reading tutor and discover what children like right now! It is a great part of publishing because the people who work in it are so passionate and knowledgeable, and it is important to show you care about the industry and the books that are being published within it. 

What are some of your personal favourite children’s books? 

This is a tough one. Many of my favourite children’s books are Bounce ones – sorry! I really love the How to... series by Daisy May Johnson from Pushkin Children’s – they have lots of footnotes in them, and they are often related to food, which is never a bad thing! I also love The Lonely Book by Meg Grehan from Little Island Books as it is set in a bookshop; an automatic win for me. 



bottom of page