Wondering how marketeers work their magic? In the latest instalment in our series providing an insight into life and careers in the publishing industry, we’re speaking with marketing manager Vicky Joss.

I’m in charge of

Running marketing campaigns for a variety of our fiction authors from romance and cosy crime to gritty thrillers. This involves everything from pitching to authors for their book, planning and running the marketing campaign, social media activity, making book proofs, designing assets, coming up with messaging, and booking adverts, etc. We’ve recently been working with Michael Ball on his debut novel – helping it land at number 3 in the bestseller charts!

I do quite a lot of community building too. I’m the team liaison for Love Reading, Pigeon Hole and Book Fairies, who are all book services who help amplify our activity and bring our books to a wider audience. I’ll work with them to book everything in for a campaign and get the word out. I look after author brands too – authors like SJ Bennett and Rory Clements.

I also work alongside my colleagues Holly and Ellie on our social media – looking after the Sharing Our Shelves TikTok and Instagram and our adult fiction imprints’ twitter. Depending on the content we’ll usually spend an hour or so on the Monday – we call it TikTok time – bashing out stuff based on trends that we see or things that we like. If you ever see me in the boardroom lying on the floor with a big pile of books then you know what I’m up to. Longer videos on things like a Day in the Life can take a little longer – and then there’s the editing…

First task of the day

If I’m in the office, I’ll check the post room. We’ll get a lot of Point of Sale (POS) materials through that we’ll need to send out to reps. Bookmarks, posters, that sort of thing… I’m in the office twice a week, so need to do my mailings on those days.

If I’m at home, I’ll put on my orange scented diffuser, get a hot chocolate, and prep for the first meeting of the day. Our big meetings are usually at 10am, so I’ll have a good hour to prepare for what I need to present.

The thing I look forward to the most

Publication day… A lot of the work we do is pre-publication building the buzz, and so a lot of the pay-off comes with sales on publication day or landing that chart position. You get to see all that hard work come to fruition. When you’re in the midst of a big campaign, you might have spent the entire month going back and forth with people during the build-up to launch, so it’s nice to see readers actually get hold of their copies and say: ‘this is a really great book!’

What nobody knows about my job

I think people would still be surprised by the variety of what we do and the range of people we talk to. It’s hard to do ‘a day in the life’ when that day might consist of briefing designers on proofs one moment or sending books out to people, designing materials for bookshops, creating social media posts, or writing newsletters the next. You work with so many different departments. It’s not nearly as insular as I first thought it might be. You have to work with sales, editorial, PR and across practically every department.

How did you get the job

Mine was a fairly traditional route. I did an English Literature degree and then a Publishing MA, followed by an internship that led to my first job. My very first interview was in a coffee shop. I was already doing an internship at a small publisher and the publishing director interviewed me and asked if I liked women’s fiction. Luckily, they needed somebody and I’d already been working on the list. It all fell into place.

My masters gave me a broader understanding of the industry, but if you’re thinking the only route into publishing is an MA: it definitely isn’t… The focus has dropped off higher education and into practical skills, being savvy online and showcasing transferable experience.

Interviews are largely competency-based these days, so they have a lot of similar questions. If anyone is going to prep for a marketing interview, the one thing I would suggest is to always make sure you look at your favourite marketing campaigns both inside and outside of publishing because they will want to know that you are looking at other publishers and noticing the trends, and they’ll want to know that you’ve got nous outside of the industry too.

Any other advice

You don’t have to, but it’s useful being on social media. Just because that’s where people shout about books. That’s where you’ll find the book community and the trades like the Bookseller and BookBrunch. So, it’s a good way to keep up with announcements to see where the market is going. Everyone entering the industry loves reading, but if you’re going to an interview you have to show those savvy social skills. Even if you’re just on TikTok and have an awareness of what’s going on, knowing those trends is really useful for commercial fiction roles.

And make sure to keep reading outside of your list and your interests too, so you can come to interviews and know the market and the right comparable titles (comps) too.

The path I might have chosen

Firstly, I wanted to be a fashion designer. But I can’t draw so that dream died… And then I wanted to be a set dresser. I wanted to be that person who bought the sofas for film sets.

For those looking to learn more about other roles in the industry, you can also take a look at interviews with colleagues in audio, rights, designinternational sales, hreditorial. And don’t forget to check out our Instagram @Inside_BBUK