A new commercial development operation and consultancy for small independent children’s publishers called Kid Gloves, has been established by Roy Johnson, commercial director at New Frontier and former key accounts manager for Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
Johnson said the aim of Kid Gloves was to provide all aspects of commercial development, help and advice for its partners. He also hopes to build an established community of publishers who will share information on all aspects of business and help each other by pooling resources where needed. The first publishers it will be working with are: Alanna Books, Troika Books, New Frontier Publishing Europe, Lantana Publishing, Book Island, Tiny Owl, Clickety Books, Ragged Bears and ZaZa Kids.
Speaking of the inspiration behind Kid Gloves, Johnson said: “I have always admired small children’s publishers for their total commitment and tenacity in a very competitive environment. They are often the first companies to create new things and develop new ideas and talent. What is sometimes missing is the resources to follow that through commercially and build on it—they may not have a dedicated marketer, publicist or sales team. They may spend a lot of time working alone and not meeting other publishers. This is where I thought I could make a difference. Kid Gloves is a combination of all those things.”
Since the launch of Kid Gloves, the publishers involved have shared information about agents, printers, production, marketing and advertising, as well as market and customer feedback. They have also shared a stand at conferences, enabling them all to be present to network and promote their books.
Earlier this month, Kid Gloves held a conference for its partners. Guest speakers included: Anna McKerrow, author and creative writing projects co-ordinator at Booktrust; Karen Brodie, head of adult reading and publisher partnerships at The Reading Agency; freelance sales and marketing consultant Sam Shone; and freelance consultant and creative strategist Naomi Bacon. Tamara Macfarlane of south London bookshop Tales on Moon Lane also talked about independent bookselling and how small publishers can gain more attention from this sector, while Beth Cox, co-founder of Without Exception and Inclusive Minds, spoke about the importance of inclusivity in children’s books. Johnson said: “We collectively highlighted areas where we have to work harder and improve and be more professional and strategic.”
He believes that a strategic approach will be key to the success of Kid Gloves. Its partners Troika Books, Alanna Books, Ragged Bears and New Frontier are working with Macmillan Marketing Services, which looks after their day-to-day sales to the trade, export and schools, while Tiny Owl’s sales are directed by Saltway.
Johnson said: “I see these sales teams as part of our team and I work very closely with them to support and encourage their sales efforts, ensuring all other commercial activity is linked and joined up.”
He added: “I understand the importance of building bridges across the whole spectrum of commercial activity and joining up and streamlining marketing, sales, distribution and publicity to ensure that books get to the widest audience they can.”