My Job in 5: Kate Barber

My Job in 5: Kate Barber

Describe your role
I head Paperstyle Books, a book wholesaler that specialises in selling into the gift and fashion market. We’re a small, but very nimble, team, with myself and one other colleague in the head office and a whole team of reps out on the ground. The day-to-day work includes chatting with our customers, liaising with publishers on stock, timeframes, or new releases, and pitching for new business.

What do you like best about your role?
Having previously worked for a mainstream publishing house in the special sales team selling books, it’s great to sit on the other side of the table and to be sold to instead. It’s fascinating being on the receiving end of various sales techniques and I love knowing what trends the publishers are banking on for a season, or equally those that have something a little different up their sleeves.

Which new titles are you working on at the moment?
We’re looking at revamping our social media and website at the moment, which is hugely exciting and will really refresh our online presence.

What skills do you need for your role?
An ability to multitask is key. Being a wholesaler, you’re quite often in the middle between stock and customers, so it can be a bit of a juggling act knowing what’s coming in or going out when. It’s also important that you can look at books from your customers’ perspective and pull out what you think they’re going to to like (or not like!) so you’re making the best recommendations for them. We have a huge amount of books delivered every day, and it can sometimes feel like the stacks are getting out of control, but you have to be able to look at them all and pull out those perfect few that you know are ideal for your customer.

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Not all publishing is editorial—try to look at the other departments available and whether you would be interested in those instead. You can always move over at a later date. It’s about getting your foot in the door and the easiest way to do that is to go for an area not as many others are going for. I was adamant I wanted to be in publicity when I was interning, I ended up in in client sales for my first job as that was the role going at the time, but I absolutely love sales and it was a department I never even thought of applying for when I was first looking for jobs in the industry.