Sunday, 19 December 2010

Meet the mentor | Geoff Duffield

Geoff Duffield is a valued sales and marketing mentor who, along with Iain MacGregor, has contributed significantly to the SYP mentoring scheme over the past two years. Geoff, Group Sales and Marketing Director at Pan Macmillan, has been mentoring an entrepeneurial student whose goal is to establish their own independent publishing company (academic, although with the main emphasis on trade) which acts as a platform to facilitate self-publishing authors to print-on-demand and ebook services.
Geoff has provided the student with mentoring guidance, advice and encouragement face-to-face on two occasions, as well as communicating by phone and email.
I have nothing other than tremendous gratitude and appreciation for Geoff's sterling input.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

How to get into publishing

The following presentation was provided by Suzanne Kavanagh of skillset who spoke at the same event as me at the London Book Fair in April:

This presentation may be helpful from a mentoring perspective: for the information of current or potential mentoring students aiming to get in to publishing; or for mentors to look at exactly which generic skills are required by publishing employers (useful for working with students on their specific goals).

Monday, 6 December 2010

Meet the mentor | Helen Conford

Helen Conford began working at Penguin Books in 2001, becoming a commissioning editor in 2003. She is now an Editorial Director at two Penguin imprints, Allen Lane and Particular Books (which launched its first list in July 2009). She was shortlisted for the Young Publishing Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008.

I am very grateful to Helen for mentoring a SYP student whose goal is to move from newspaper journalism to book publishing, specifically commerical fiction and non-fiction. (Helen has been assisting this person with her CV, interview technique and the specific role of an editor.)

Thank you, Helen!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Meet the mentor | Iain MacGregor

Iain MacGregor has been a tremendous contributor to the SYP Mentoring Scheme over the past 2 years. Currently Publishing Director for the Collins imprint of HarperCollins, Iain was previously Associate Publisher at Mainstream in Edinburgh when I initially invited him to participate as a SYP mentor.

Iain has had extensive experience at Publisher level, with positions as Publishing Director at Cassell, Associate Publisher at Chrysalis Book Group and Publishing Director at Sanctuary Publishing. I consider any SYP mentoring student to be very fortunate to be under his tutelage -- Iain is very highly regarded in his field, an enthusiastic ambassador for the industry and displays a keen [taskmaster] interest in his students.

Iain is currently mentoring a SYP student whose goal is to make the transition from recent Literature graduate to marketing assistant in trade publishing. Iain has established an internship for the student in editorial, marketing and PR, which is currently ongoing, as well as guiding her in the direction of respected sources of industry news/information to further her development.

Thank you, Iain.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Meet the mentor | Rachel Lynch

I am sincerely grateful to Rachel Lynch, MD of Ashgate Publishing, for her sterling input into the SYP mentoring scheme. The student's mentoring goal is to complete a work experience placement with an academic publisher, with a view to full-time employment.

Rachel has guided the student on interview technique, recommended specific smaller publishers to approach, and advised her on promoting herself to independent publishers (whilst encouraging her to sound out local bookshops for work in the meantime). The student has recently completed an internship at HarperCollins, and had a number of interviews.
Thank you, Rachel!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Meet the mentor | Bethan Jones

I'm very grateful to Bethan Jones for accepting the invitation to be an SYP mentor; she is a highly-experienced marketing and publicity manager within the trade sector.

Bethan is Publicity Manager at Random House, on the Chatto & Windus, Harvill Secker, Yellow Jersey and Square Peg imprints. As such, as well as juggling the demands of a high-profile role, Bethan is mentoring a SYP student whose goal is to obtain an entry level publicity/marketing role within the trade sector. (Under Bethan's mentorship this student is now completing an internship at Orion, and is receiving vacancy information / interview guidance.)

Friday, 29 October 2010

Meet the mentor | Brenda Stones

The SYP is very fortunate to have Brenda Stones as a mentor; she has vast experience within the industry as freelance lecturer, author and editor. She has been an educational publisher, and has worked for a range of large and small publishing companies, including Oxford University Press where she was Publishing Director for twelve years. Brenda is now a freelance editor, consultant and author, giving training courses on publishing in the UK and overseas, and running her own literary press.

She is currently mentoring a student whose goal is to switch from teaching to publishing (working on their CV, interview technique, and providing advice on applying for internships).

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Meet the mentor | Trevor Dolby

I'm very pleased that Trevor accepted the assignment of Mentor for the SYP scheme. His distinguished career as a publisher is within the polar opposite of mine -- trade publishing. He was at the forefront of the celebrity autobiography genre (formerly MD of HarperEntertainment, he is now Publisher at Preface, part of Random House). Trevor is an expert in his publishing field and is an excellent writer himself.

To that list he can also add excellent [and greatly appreciated] mentor. He is currently mentoring a Classics/Publishing MA student whose aim is to gain an entry-level trade editorial position. (The student has achieved this.)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Mentoring initiative: Scottish Book Trust

My publishing education/career started in Scotland, and I try to keep up to pace on industry developments there. The Scottish Book Trust is now sifting through applications for their own mentoring scheme.

The Independent Publishers Guild, the Publishers Association, the Periodicals Training Council, Society for Editors and Proofreaders, Society of Young Publishers and Diversity in Publishing Network all have one particular feature in common (other than the transference of knowledge from one mind to another, of course): the establishment of their own industry mentoring schemes.

I wish them well. Perhaps in the future we could look to benefit each other from shared experiences, advice and guidance.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Ten ways to get noticed | Management Today

September's issue of Management Today lists 10 ways to get yourself positively noticed and mentoring is, inevitably, within that list:

1. Find your niche.
2. Be a mentor.
3. Dress the part.
4. Learn to learn.
5. Raise your profile.
6. Join a committee.
7. Offer a helping hand.
8. Make your boss's life easier.
9. Become an expert.
10. Wave your own flag.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Mentoring underway

Mentoring has been underway since June, and I will shortly be contacting each participant to find out how their mentoring partnership has been progressing.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The benefits of mentoring: alumni talk at Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies

This talk at Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies will have a particular focus on the benefits of mentoring and coaching within the publishing industry.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Value of Mentorship

Bhav Mehta, founder of Saadhak Books (, was one of the first SYP members to undertake mentoring within the SYP scheme. He has written about his experience of being an SYP mentoring student.


'Two years ago I knew nothing about Publishing, didn’t know anybody working in the Industry, had no relevant work experience, didn’t have a clue about how books are made or sold, and certainly had no idea of how publishing works in an international scale! Since that time, I’ve written a series of children’s books, started my own small publishing venture, been a part of many interesting publishing projects and initiatives, and met an enormous number and variety of the great folk in our industry! I owe much of this to the SYP, and in particular to the SYP Mentorship Scheme.

Since graduating in Biology from Queen Mary College, I had been working in a science research group at University College London, where I’d been for over 8 years. I was desperate to leave the research field and get into a more creative industry. At this time I had been writing a series of children’s folktales from various regions of the Indian Subcontinent. These were stories that had never been presented in picture books to appeal to children, schools and libraries in the UK. I was surprised that major children’s publishers hadn’t developed a catalogue of Indian tales, other than a few independent houses like Frances Lincoln and Barefoot Books. Had these books been tried and tested, and failed? Or was there a massive gap in the market?

I grew up listening to stories from my grandparents, and wished these tales were available as picture books that I could buy for my nieces and nephews who are in the 4-7 age group. The only books available to this group were European titles or non-illustrated collections of Indian stories, published for older children in mind. Every time I went to India, I would look out for good local picture books, but all I found were either rally cheap computer-generated products or anthologies of tales for an older readership – nothing for younger children. It became quickly clear – there was a gap in the market that I just had to fill! But how?

I went on a fast-track business course at Central Saint Martins College and within six months developed a business plan, set-up a basic website and registered my company with Companies House. “Saadhak Books” was born. The word “Saadhak” is an old Sanskrit word that translates to ‘one on a journey.’ It best describes my own view of life and the aim of the business: to take children onto an amazing journey of Indian folktales!

A large part of any journey is in its preparation. To set up a publishing house needs an incredible amount of research, understanding and networking. I spent hours at the British Library using their Business & IP Centre, and read books about the industry. And all this was done while still working full-time at UCL.

Becoming a member of the Society in early 2008, allowed me to quickly learn about the various aspects of publishing - from Marketing to Editorial, from how to make the most out of Book Fairs to how to use Social Media sites in the best way to sell books. I also started to meet some incredible people and learnt that despite the often cut-throat nature of the industry, the people working in Publishing are extremely friendly and helpful, something I still believe today.

Another important factor in any journey is to have guides, role-models and helpful friends who can provide the advice and support you need as an individual. I realised that without any work experience or internships under my belt, and without studying Publishing as an academic course, the only way I’d make any kind of progress was to find myself a mentor. It was quite timely that as these ideas were churning in my head, the SYP launched its inaugural Mentorship Scheme, which I applied for immediately.

Since its inception in 1949, the SYP has been an organisation centred around fellowship and support, and as the Society approached its 60th year, the committee at the time, and in particular Jason Mitchell from Oxford, felt it was time to start the scheme. The basic idea was that students and young professionals would have access to publishers with significant experience in their sector of the industry. Through building a confidential one-to-one relationship, participating SYP members would outline their mentoring goal; ask for advice; learn from their mentors own career path; and apply that knowledge to their own publishing sector.

I remember feeling very excited and fortunate when Jason, who is still the Mentorship Scheme co-ordinator, sent me an e-mail to say I’d be selected. My Mentor was going to be Ruth Logan, the Rights Director at Bloomsbury. Ruth not only treated me to a nice lunch (in a private members club in Soho of course), but also provided support by e-mail. She recommended people I should speak to, websites I should visit, gave me a crash course on how book rights work, and answered so many of my questions.

Ruth continued to be extremely encouraging of my ideas and future plans and offered her help far beyond the 6-month mentorship period. She helped with the contract I drew up with the illustrator for my first book, “Laghu the Clever Crow,” and also introduced me to her colleagues in the Production Department at Bloomsbury for their informal advice on the design and production quality of the books first proofs. This kind of advice is invaluable when you’re starting up a publishing venture from scratch all by yourself.

Along this process, I also found mentors in other friends, SYP colleagues and professionals working in Publishing, both in the UK and in India. When my first book was finally printed and copies landed on my doorstep, I was pleased to send Ruth and all my other mentors their very own copies. I was further pleased that they all actually liked it.

As my own journey continues in (hopefully) becoming a successful publisher, I will always remember those that gave me help and advice, and I hope one day I too can do the same for others. I recommend anyone new to the Industry to find a mentor. Watch out for the Scheme in 2011… it could make all the difference.'

Friday, 18 June 2010

Claudia Filsinger on 'what is mentoring?'

I have asked a number of appropriate professionals to elaborate on what they think mentoring is and should be. First up is Claudia Filsinger, who has kindly provided an outline from the perspective of a career and business coaching expert:

What is mentoring? Mentoring often involves the mentor having more experience in a profession or sector than the mentee. In addition to sharing experiences and giving advice the mentor gives general support and encouragement as well as supporting the formulation of goals. It is often overlooked that there are many benefits not just for the mentee, but also the mentor. In fact a recent development is "reverse mentoring". For example young employees introduce older employees to social media or junior female employees reverse mentor male executives.Career researchers recommend multiple mentors, which can be both formal and informal. Complementary activities like training, coaching, networking and collecting feedback can be used in addition to maximise career success. Success factors for mentoring include clear contracting at the beginning of the relationship (how to work together, what is the goal etc). A pitfall of mentoring could be for the mentee to become dependent on their mentor or feeling obliged to follow advise. So I think an important part of mentoring is to reflect on the mentoring in general and specifically on the relationship, which can include giving each other feedback. Mentoring relationships end at some point - sometimes what looks like small steps can be major achievements, so celebrate!

(Claudia started her career in publishing in Sales and Rights, both in Germany and the UK. Following an international Learning & Development position with a major IT company she now pursues a portfolio career. This includes seminar tutoring at the Brookes Business School in 'Career Planning' and 'Work Placement Search'. She has a Career and Business coaching practice and is studying for an MA in Coaching and Mentoring. She was a member of the Oxford SYP in the late 1990s and is currently on the Committee of the Oxford CIPD.)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

What is expected of the SYP mentoring student?

Students and mentors will agree how they want to work together as part of their mentoring relationship but, as a minimum, the following are good pointers for a mentoring student:

· Drive the mentoring relationship
· Provide a realistic self-assessment and identify development goals
· Agree in advance and stick to a schedule of mentoring meetings
· Prepare for mentoring meetings, including determining the agenda of the meetings in advance
· Follow up on actions agreed at the meeting
· Make brief notes of the content and outcomes of meetings
· Maintain the confidentiality of the mentoring relationship

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Students and mentors now being matched

I have matched the initial applicants for the SYP Mentoring Scheme with their mentors, and their first meetings are either underway or currently being arranged.

The first meetings are useful in facilitating successful mentoring relationships by outlining
and managing mutual expectations and clarifying roles. An initial mentoring meeting might include:

· Discussion of the mentee’s primary development objectives
· Build up rapport, and perhaps talk about your respective backgrounds
· What the student is obliged to do in the mentoring relationship
· What the mentor is obliged to do in the mentoring relationship
· Decide on what project/issue/career aspect to work on together
· How often you want to meet and by what channel.

Applications from SYP members are still welcome until 18 June, and mentors are welcome to join our growing pool of industry experts.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Mentors: the publishing industry needs you

I extend my sincere thanks to the SYP mentors we now have for the 2010 scheme; your support is invaluable. I'm keen to add to the list, so new mentors are always welcome. I am interested in potential mentors from all areas of the industry -- editorial, sales, marketing, publicity and production. If you are interested in learning more about what being a SYP mentor involves, please contact me:

Thanks to Jon Reed of Reed Media,, who has kindly posted more details on Publishing Talk:

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Applications welcome until 8 June

I have extended the application deadline to Monday 8 June. Please do apply for the mentoring scheme if you have a specific career goal in mind. You can access the application form here:

Monday, 24 May 2010

What are the benefits of being a SYP 'student'?

As for the mentors, there are several potential benefits of participating in the SYP scheme as a 'student':

Creativity and problem solving: by bouncing ideas off mentors and receiving the benefit of the mentor’s experience.

Increased competence: by tailoring development to the student’s individual needs mentoring helps them acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes that are directly relevant to their job and will improve job performance.
Increased motivation and satisfaction: through the personal, relevant nature of the development.
Career development: by helping the student to set longer-term, realistic goals.
Improved employability: by enhancing their competence and inspiring them to take responsibility for their own development and career.
Moral support: through the mentor listening and acting as a confidential sounding board.
Increased networking opportunities and industry awareness: through the mentor giving or suggesting access to a wider network in other parts of the industry.
Time-effectiveness: by addressing the student’s needs on a one-to-one, individual basis.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Guardian Careers podcast

Suzanne Collier of has kindly mentioned the SYP Mentoring Scheme in her Guardian podcast (around 14.30 in):

Many thanks, Suzanne.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The mentors so far...

Suzanne Collier:

Taylor & Francis Group

These are some of the companies from which individuals have agreed to join the pool of mentors for the SYP Mentoring Scheme. I am sincerely grateful to all of the people concerned (you know who you are!).

I'm still recruiting mentors, so if you're interested in adding your name to the list of mentors, I would be delighted to hear from you:

Thursday, 13 May 2010

What are the benefits of being a SYP mentor?

There are several key benefits of being a SYP mentor:

Increased job satisfaction and motivation: from the satisfaction of knowing they have contributed greatly to another’s growth and development.
Feeling valued: by being able to share their knowledge and experience.
Personal development: by developing skills which are critical for effective leadership, and learning from the new insights, ideas and feedback provided by students.
Increased insider knowledge: especially about the industry (through meeting with a student from another company or business function).
Experimentation with new behaviours: through being able to try out new behaviours that it may be more difficult to do with direct reports.

Credit: by receiving recognition from their own employer that this is a critical and worthwhile role, which could improve promotional prospects.
Industry recognition: the SYP has over 500 members, many of whom are employees of publishing houses or intending to work within the UK publishing industry. It may be a good way of promoting your company.

Monday, 10 May 2010

10 ways to be a good mentor

I came across this list in February's Management Today. It's aimed at company schemes, but each item is worth considering for any mentoring scenario:

Commit to your role
Be approachable
Be a good listener
Encourage ... don't intimidate
Act as a sounding board
Don't mollycoddle
Provide the company perspective
Play devil's advocate
Remember how you felt

Friday, 30 April 2010

What is mentoring?

It has occurred to me that some people might be interesting in becoming involved in the SYP Mentoring Scheme, as mentor or student, but perhaps don't fully understand what it would involve in terms of their time commitment or indeed the nature of mentoring itself.

In terms of time commitment we are recommending mentors 'meet' with their students (this could be face-to-face over a coffee, via email, over the phone or Skype, etc) for a minimum of [up to] 2 hours on 3 separate occasions over a 6 month timeframe. So, beginning in June, the arrangement would formally finish at the end of this year. These are not fixed rules, and some mentors and students from last year met up more frequently, and indeed are still in contact with each other.

What is Mentoring?
Like many business phrases, there is no one definition for mentoring that all academics and practitioners agree on. However, part of a definition from the book Everyone Needs a Mentor (D. Clutterbuck, 2004), provides a good pointer:

'Mentoring helps mentees and mentors progress their personal and professional growth. The aim is to build the capability of mentees to the point of self-reliance... Mentoring is a positive developmental activity. Mentors can discuss current issues relating to the mentee’s work, offering insights... into how the informal networks operate and how they think about the challenges and opportunities they encounter. Mentors can advise on development and how to manage a career plan; they can challenge assumptions; and where relevant, they can share their own experience.'

Through a series of regular, confidential one-to-one meetings, a mentor helps their student to work out their own answers to things that are important to them: from immediate job application plans, to the right area of publishing for them to be in, to long-term career goals. This might mean helping the student stand back and see the broader picture, or just providing a listening ear when they want to get something off their chest or just need someone to act as a sounding board. The long-term aim is for the student to become self-reliant in acquiring new knowledge, skills and abilities. Mentoring draws upon a range of development methods including coaching, counselling, facilitating and sharing expertise.

What to expect in mentoring meetings
There is no 'right' format for mentoring meetings; students and mentors will agree an approach that works best for them. I have created some groundrules that all students must adhere to, but the following guidelines are based on good practice:

First Meeting:
The first meeting has three main goals:
· to establish rapport
· to establish an understanding of what each should expect of the other
· to agree the student’s initial development objectives and immediate issue

This initial meeting is very useful in facilitating successful mentoring relationships by outlining and managing mutual expectations and clarifying roles.

A typical mentoring agreement might include:
· The mentee’s primary development objectives
· What the student is obliged to do in the mentoring relationship
· What the mentor is obliged to do in the mentoring relationship
· Decide on what project/issue/career aspect to work on together.
· How often you want to meet and by what channel.

Early on in the mentoring relationship, ideally at the first meeting, mentees and mentors should discuss boundaries for the relationship in terms of what each party can and will do within the relationship. There are a small number of general boundaries that I would suggest are useful in all mentoring relationships. These are:

· The relationship is student driven and it is the mentee’s responsibility to determine the agenda for mentoring meetings
· It is not the mentor’s role to sort out the student’s problems but to help the student solve their own problems
· Whilst mentors should be able to help students with a wide range of development opportunities or any problems, the mentor is not expected to be a trained counsellor.

Subsequent Meetings: Mentoring
The agendas for these meetings will be driven by the student’s mentoring goal and therefore may change and evolve over the course of the mentoring relationship. The meetings will typically last between one and two hours. During these meetings the mentor may provide coaching, counselling, advice, encouragement, challenge and feedback depending on the student’s needs.

Confidentiality is a fundamental principle of a mentoring relationship in order to build trust and encourage openness. This applies to both mentors and students. Both parties commit not to talk about what has been discussed at mentoring meetings unless they have the agreement of the other party to do so.

Finally, it is entirely voluntary! Either party can agree to end the mentoring arrangement (if both parties agree that the mentoring situation has developed as far as it can and has come to a natural conclusion). Similarly, if both parties wish to continue to be in touch after the formal ending of the SYP mentoring scheme, that is also perfectly acceptable.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Feedback from last year: the mentors

My sincere thanks to last year's mentors. I am very grateful for the time and thought that they put into their meetings with the students (mentees) whether this was face to face, via email, over a coffeee or -- in some cases -- in their offices. As I mentioned in my first post, the SYP is centred on fellowship and voluntary support: they clearly demonstrated these values with their involvement, whichever method they used to communicate.

The mentors included:

Genevieve Pegg (Editor, Orion);
Geoff Duffield (Sales Director, Pan Macmillan);
Christoph Chesher (Global Sales Director, T&F);
Beth Lewis (Website manager, T&F);
Ruth Logan (Rights Director, Bloomsbury);
Iain MacGregor (Associate Publisher, Mainstream);
Zoe Kruze (Senior Developmental Editor, Elsevier);
Ken Barlow (Editor, Zed Books);
and Claire Morrison (Marketing Executive, Random House).

Here are a selection of comments I received from the mentors' perspective:

'I realized that she just needed someone with more experience in publishing to listen to hear and give advice. We got on really well and will continue to be in contact.'

'We corresponded initially via email, and then had a face-to-face just before Xmas in London. We were in touch fairly regularly on email for a good 3-4 months, but then as my workload increased post-Xmas, I could manage to talk to her roughly once a month.'

'I think the scheme is helpful to both parties, as it puts a career-orientated/ upper-management level mentor in touch with how it feels to starting out in the industry again with a fresh-faced beginner. I did feel I was more empathetic to the junior staff who work with me here at [publisher], as you realize just how hard it is at the beginning.'

'I think I was matched with someone who had the same desire to get into publishing when I was of a similar age. She had tremendous enthusiasm and commitment to get her toe in the door of lots of publishing houses. One needs that commitment to get a foothold in this business right now, so I am sure she will succeed eventually.'

'We did everything by email as she was in London and myself in Oxford. I did offer to phone her or her to phone me anytime but I think she felt more comfortable via email. It would have been nice to have a face to face meeting right at the beginning to try and forge the relationship, but again location was an issue.'

'It would be nice to mentor someone that was closer so a face to face meeting would have been more possible. But I completely understand it’s not always possible, and it would be a shame to miss a good match due to this.'

'Met with my mentee twice face to face having arranged to meet via email, which worked out fine. Would have been happy to have met a couple more times if necessary or answer questions by email.'

'Giving advice on [student's name] CV and then seeing that it had been useful and she had followed up on it. It was really nice to feel that what help I could give was actually useful (I hope anyway!).'

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Feedback from last year: the 'students'

I had some good feedback on the SYP Mentoring Scheme last year. More importantly for me, we had some valuable feedback on how to improve it for this year, and I will be using some of their ideas / recommendations.

Here are a selection of comments I received from those who were mentored:

'I received the encouragement that I was doing everything I possibly could: applying for any role to get a foot in the door; making contact and arranging personal meetings with those who already worked in the industry... '

'It was a major boost to my search to hear the first-hand account of someone who had experienced the same struggle and who also had a vested interest in my success.'

'My mentor was good at giving me feedback on decisions I made about whether to stay in my department, redundancies, and how long to stay in one job for, which proved very useful in mapping out some sort of career game plan, which was a quite important goal for me this year.'

'It was definitely great to talk to somebody doing a job I would like to aim for in a few years.'

'It has particularly helped me with the cover designs of my books.'

'Meeting some of the other staff at Bloomsbury helped me out of tricky situations! Their advice was great. I joined the scheme at a time when I knew relatively little about the Publishing Industry. It was nice to know I had a mentor I could ‘touch base’ with and bounce questions off whenever I needed.'

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The London Book Fair

I will be speaking about the SYP Mentoring Scheme at the London Book Fair on Tuesday 20 April, at 2.30pm and 4pm, Conference Rooms 1 and 2. (This will be during the 'How To Get Into Publishing' and 'How to Get Ahead in Publishing' sessions.)

I'll be available after the sessions to answer any questions you might have on the scheme, either as a Mentor or Student.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Apply now for the 2010 SYP Mentoring Scheme

SYP members can apply now to participate in the 2010 SYP Mentoring Scheme via the following website: Please complete all of the fields carefully and, in a 100 word statement, outline exactly what your mentoring objective would be: what you aim to achieve from this scheme, and your reasons for applying.

The closing date for applications is 24 May 2010.

With thanks to Nick Coveney for designing the poster.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Sixty years of dedication : a profile of Gordon Graham

In 2006 I was fortunate to meet Gordon Graham in his LOGOS office. The result of which was the following article, written for the SYP magazine InPrint (Issue 118) in 2006:

One could fill an edition of InPrint several time over with articles chronicling the transnational publishing career of one Scotsman. 2007 marks his 61st year of involvement in the publishing industry: a remarkable feat demonstrating his commitment to publishing, and making him one of the most enduring figures within the industry.

Thankfully, his work and influence continue and I had the privilege of an afternoon in the company of Gordon Graham in the office of the journal he founded on his 'retirement' in 1990: LOGOS, the quarterly journal of the international book world. Any article on Graham would, to some degree, have to reflect a man combining quiet dignity with a sharp intellect, earthy humour, and an overall calm, measured and unassuming character - qualities all the more remarkable given his outstanding contribution as soldier, publisher and founding editor.

This visit will remain for me one of the highlights of my time in this industry, and for the purposes of this article I can, of course, focus only on Graham's prolific publishing career. (This is at the expense, unfortunately, of such details as his upbringing in Glasgow and his graduation from that city's university into the turmoil of World War II, where he was to receive the Military Cross and Bar, for active service with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in Burma.)

Gordon Graham began his postwar career as a freelance newspaper correspondent in Bombay where he established a strong client network, supplying articles for such publications as the Christian Science Monitor, the Cotton Trade Journal in Memphis, the Melbourne Age and the Glasgow Herald, all of which provided a steady income: 'At that time I had no intention of entering publishing!' This was to change when, in 1950, he secured a part-time appointment as a College and Trade Traveller for the McGraw-Hill Book Company for whose magazines he was the correspondent. He was to spend the next ten years combining life as a newspaper correspondent with that of an academic rep covering all 48 universities in India (and ultimately taking in the territories of Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma and the rest of Southeast Asia.)

In 5 years, Graham increased McGraw-Hill's turnover in the Indian territory from $70,000 to $700,000. As aresult, in 1955 Graham received a telegram in Athens (he and his family were driving back to India from Britain) offering him the position of International Sales Manager, to be based in New York. His initial response was to decline it: his preference was for journalism and he was by then well established as a correspondent. However, as Graham also noted, 'Newspaper work was writing in the sand. Books were more secure,' so he decided to take up the offer.

In February 1956, Graham and his wife and daughter departed India and embarked upon a new stage in his life with McGraw-Hill in the US. I asked Graham what the most important stage in his career had been, and he cited this move from Bombay to New York: he was in charge of world sales and it was his first time as a publishing manager. He was to work in the US until 1963 when, promoted again to Managing Director, he finally returned to the UK. This, Graham told me, was also the most challenging stage of his career:
'Not least because a lot of people thought I was American! In the 1960s US publishers were seen as a threat to the UK publishing scene and there was a certain coolness towards me. It wasn't a welcoming atmosphere, and I had to charm everybody.'

Such was Graham's success during the next decade with McGraw-Hill, that 1974 was to see his career move on to an even higher plain when he became Chairman and Chief Executive of Butterworths, England's premier law publisher, a position he was to hold until his retirement from corporate life in 1990. What essential qualities had assisted his career path?
'The ability to motivate people. Essentially I see management as running in four directions: those who report to you, your peers, your boss and yourself. All vital. It's important, for the first three, to make all your colleagues relax around you.'

I asked Graham what he missed least about corporate life. He replied,
'The figures! I'd never seen a business plan until I moved to New York, and I'd never seen a profit and loss account, so I enrolled on an evening accountancy course and learned from scratch.'

Graham's retirement from Butterworth's was to be the catalyst for his next venture: the founding of LOGOS, the quarterly journal for the professional book community. This journal is unique in that it isn't essentially academic, although scholars do contribute, and from experience it is recommended reading on publishing courses; certainly it is held in high regard at Stirling University's Centre for Publishing Studies, which awarded Graham an honorary doctorate. Nor is it a news magazine: it carries no advertising, and has no national or regional bias. Instead, LOGOS is a forum where book professionals worldwide communicate with one another; indeed, the first fifteen volumes published articles from fifty-five countries.

Contributors are encouraged to express personal views, share experiences, and construct thoughtful analysis; in effect allowing readers to develop an informed opinion about likely future developments. For those interested in the history of publishing during the last 40 years, any of Graham's published titles* would be relevant references. For those interested in contemporary international publishing, from the perspective of leading professionals around the globe, LOGOS is the journal to consult.

As our meeting drew to a close, I wondered if Graham had any thoughts on being a young publisher today, and what advice he could offer to those starting out in the industry?
'There's certainly a lot to be said for starting out in sales and, as a rep, you get to know the product, the business and the market well. In terms of a publishing house, the ideal would be to find a niche publisher: it's a secure market and if it's just the right size it offers a perfect vantage point to see and learn all of the business.'

Can there ever be a strategy for a successful and fulfilling career in publishing?
'Be in the right place at the right time. Be receptive to ideas. Keep emotion out of business. Accept jobs because of where they might lead. Never discuss salary.'

Gordon Graham is often lauded as one of the most successful publishers of his generation, but I don't agree. Through his continual involvement, ready encouragement of - and interest in - the next generation of publishers, an ethical concern, and his value and belief in internationalism, Gordon Graham represents the true spirit of a successful [and ever-] Young Publisher.

Titles by Gordon Graham:
As I Was Saying, Essays on the International Book Business (1994), Hans Zell Publishers.
Butterworths: History of a Publishing House (1995), Butterworths.
The Trees are All Young on Garrison Hill (2005), The Kohima Educational Trust.
From Trust to Takeover (2006), Wildly, Simmons and Hill Publishing.
Immigrant Publishers: The Impact of Expatriate Publishers in Britain and America in the 20th Century (2009), Transaction Publishers.

[Update: Gordon Graham retired from his editorial duties on LOGOS at the end of 2008, and the journal continues under the ownership of the Dutch publisher Brill.]

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Thank you to all participants of the 2009 SYP Mentoring Scheme

'Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.'
Robert Louis Stevenson

Since its inception in 1949, the SYP has been an organisation centred around fellowship and support. I suggested to Jon Slack, the 2008 Chair, that as the society moves into its 60th year one of the best ways to formalise this would be through a society mentoring scheme. The necessary support was provided by the London committee and the scheme was officially underway in November 2008.

In doing so, the SYP wanted to acknowledge Gordon Graham’s outstanding contribution to publishing fellowship internationally, his involvement in encouraging publishers, and his support of the SYP. Graham has an international publishing career spanning over 60 years and is the founder of the publishing journal LOGOS, recently taken over by the Dutch publishers Brill, and is a former CEO of Butterworths.

Mentoring is an ideal activity for a vocational organisation like the SYP. Students have access to publishers with significant experience in their sector of the industry. Through building a confidential one to one relationship, participating SYP members can outline their mentoring goal; ask for advice; learn from their mentors own career path; and apply that knowledge to their own publishing sector. The SYP scheme ran for 6 months (ending in April 2009), with students paired with an appropriate mentor and working towards their own objective by face to face meetings, or via email.

I selected 10 SYP members to be mentored by experienced industry professionals, and then matched them with an appropriate mentor. The mentors included: Christoph Chesher (Global Sales Director, T&F); Genevieve Pegg (Editor, Orion); Geoff Duffield (Sales Director, Pan Macmillan); Beth Lewis (Website manager, T&F); Ruth Logan (Rights Director, Bloomsbury); Iain MacGregor (Associate Publisher, Mainstream); Zoe Kruze (Senior Developmental Editor, Elsevier); Ken Barlow (Editor, Ebury); and Claire Morrison (Marketing Executive, Random House).

As with every aspect of the SYP, the mentoring scheme is entirely voluntary. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to each mentor for their valued participation in the scheme. My hope is that students will gain from them not only encouragement and vocational knowledge, but a sense of fellowship within the industry which they will nurture throughout their publishing careers. Mentors also have much to gain, in terms of development skills and a sense of personal achievement, so I hope it will be mutually beneficial.

So far results have been encouraging. Bhavit Mehta is one such SYP student who took part in the scheme. Bhavit has written a series of children's picture books retelling old Indian folk tales, the first of which is being released this year. Bhavit wanted to learn about selling rights, and was introduced to Ruth Logan, Rights Director at Bloomsbury:

‘My mentor, Ruth Logan, has been providing useful information on publishing rights, which prepared me to benefit more from the London Book Fair in April. She's also been extremely encouraging of my ideas and future plans and offered her help in the coming weeks. Most communication with Ruth has been done through e-mail, however she kindly took me out for lunch towards the start of the mentorship where I had the opportunity to ask questions in more detail. I highly recommend the scheme to anyone new to publishing, or anyone looking to gain more knowledge in a particular aspect of publishing.’

Iain MacGregor of Mainstream was equally enthused:

‘I was matched with someone who had the same desire to get into publishing when I was of a similar age. She had tremendous enthusiasm and commitment to get her toe in the door of lots of publishing houses. One needs that commitment to get a foothold in this business right now… I think the scheme is helpful to both parties, as it puts a career-orientated/ upper-management level mentor in touch with how it feels to starting out in the industry again with a fresh-faced beginner.’

I will be selecting the next mentor/student participants in the coming weeks for the 2009/2010 Gordon Graham / SYP mentoring scheme intake.