My Job in 5: Kate Beal
1. Describe your role
I am the joint MD and Publisher with my sister Sarah Beal at Muswell Press. After many years of working for some of the best and biggest Independent publishing companies in the UK we decided to be our own bosses and have the freedom to publish exactly what we want and the books we love that match our values, purpose and creativity. We work very closely with our authors and with a brilliant, small but committed team of freelancers on design, editorial and publicity. So running a small Independent with a full time team of two means that my role is really varied and covers all aspects of the Publishing business. A typical day starts with looking at sales figures and then I am thrown into whatever needs to be done, from writing and sending material to our sales team in the UK and Export, reading new submissions, catching up with our authors, re-writing our five year plan, organising ebook promotions, updating Nielsen, to running to the Post Office to send off yet more proofs.
2. What do you like best about your role
Flexibility. We publish books that some of the larger publishers wouldn’t look at with their decision’s made by committees. We just publish the type of books we love to read and the type of books we know will have a market, and it is a pleasure to work on these books and to work with the authors across all the traditional publishing departments. The worst thing about my role is the challenge of creating thinking time to plan for mid and long term issues. But the very best bit is when the finished copies arrive and look great - that makes all the hard work worthwhile
3. Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
We are currently working on our Autumn 2019 publication schedule; acquiring new titles and commissioning a new Biography/Travel series. The two titles I am mainly working on at present is our recently published A Beer in the Loire, having just reprinted I am looking at new sales, marketing and publicity opportunities. The other book is Close to the Edge a brilliant new thriller by Toby Faber that we are publishing in April 2019, where we are working on the marketing materials and PR plan for the UK and Export markets.
4. What skills do you need for your role?
Experience and calmness. We have to problem solve as we go along. It is easy for us to be creative and innovative but we have also had to create a good structure and critical path to allow us that freedom. Communication skills are also vital as is the ability to work quickly. Finally you need to have no shame and be prepared to ask for advice when you need it. Publishing is a generous industry and friends and old colleagues are always happy to help.
5. What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Don’t think you need an MA in publishing to get into the industry. Apply for Internships at Publishers that pay a fair wage and try to experience work in all departments to see what suits you best and what you are best at. Work in the Sales Department will show you the harsh reality of the Industry and work in the Editorial Department will teach you where some of the magic is made. Work hard, ask questions and be vocal. The industry wants new talent and is in my experience a nurturing environment.