Bonnier Books UK c.e.o. Perminder Mann has called for less conformity in the industry during a panel on how to succeed in publishing.
Mann appeared alongside Knights Of co-founder Aimée Felone at a Society of Young Publishers Event in Brixton on Monday night (23rd September). The pair shared tips on how to progress in the trade, alongside details of their own experiences.
Asked how to succeed, Mann told the audience: “I would say, don’t conform and just try and be true to yourself. That’s what’s needed.”
She went on: “Often we keep talking about diversity and it’s really topical. From my own experience, if everybody was just themselves and had confidence in who they are and voiced opinions, you’ve got diversity, right? It’s about your ability to do the job, it’s your passion, it’s what you’re going to bring to the team. That’s what’s important.”
Mann, who admitted she got into publishing "by accident", also revealed she had never had a mentor while coming up through the industry, something that has led her to introduce a scheme at her own firm.
Felone said the most important piece of advice she ever got was from Dialogue publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove who inspired her to start her business by asking: “If not you, then who?”
She said: “We all have the privilege of our own voice, we all have the privilege of our own background and the uniqueness of that and the richness that can bring to the table.”
Felone, who founded inclusive publisher Knights Of after years of frustration in the trade, also claimed the industry was too “hidden” from young people, who would therefore never consider it as a career.
She said: “Seeing people who actually do the jobs to create a book and to get it to the final product on the shelves is something we can definitely improve upon. I never had anybody at careers day at university come from publishing to talk to me to say ‘this is an option for you’. I was very much pushed into teaching or being a journalist and it was never publishing. I think we can trickle that down to schools.”
The talk was held at a pop-up shop in Brixton’s Market Row promoting Elizabeth Acevedo's novel With The Fire On High (Hot Key Books). Events are being held at the venue throughout the week.