Describe your role.
I head our insights team—which also includes charts editor Kiera O’Brien and deputy features editor Caroline Carpenter—and we bring you the book charts and other data, features, company profiles, our ramped-up careers section, and a ton of special projects such as the country and regional focuses, the previews and daily editions for the London, Bologna, Beijing and Frankfurt book fairs, our annual “list” features like the Rising Stars and The Bookseller 150.
What do you enjoy about your role?
The variation. I’m a data geek, so I really like doing the “deep dives” Kiera and I do in our reviews of the year and half-year. I do enjoy the book fairs for their international focus but also the genuine excitement when a big book hits (though producing a daily magazine is not without its stresses). But I really love the Rising Stars, which is in its 10th year; I can be cynical but saluting really talented people early on in their careers is heartening.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m really excited about Bookshop Heroes, a sort of Rising Stars for individual booksellers (indie and chain) which is launching this autumn with the Booksellers Association and sponsorship from HarperCollins. Given the past few months, it is even more important to recognise these people who are holding our industry together. And I’m slowly getting my teeth into the new careers page; again, so important in the time of Covid-19.
What skills do you need for your role?
The ability to write well, which may seem a glaringly obvious trait for a journalist but judging by some freelance pitches I receive, perhaps it’s not. And I know this sounds pretentious but journalists are storytellers and you have to be able to find the angle, the narrative thrust. If you have, say, an hour-long chat with a new imprint boss, you have to be able to condense that into 1,000 words in a way that captures the readers’ attention and is entertaining and informative.
What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
I’ll answer with my Rising Stars hat on, so not just getting into the industry but succeeding in it. In the 10 years of selecting the stars, there’s been some commonalities: they have been well-informed about the whole industry, not just their patch; they take opportunities to expand their roles and think outside the box; they are constantly training and up-skilling; and they think a lot about the end user, i.e. the reader.