Thursday, 26 April 2018

MY PUBLISHING LIFE with Emily Burns

Welcome to my latest MY PUBLISHING LIFE feature, an interview with a literary agent, publisher, publicist or editor about their publishing career to date. Some serious questions, and some just for fun!


Today I'm delighted to welcome 

EMILY BURNS

Director
at
BrandHive Ltd




What and when was your first job in publishing?
My first job in publishing was with Constable and Robinson, who were still independent when I joined back in 2010. I absolutely loved that job. It was a small, hardworking and passionate team publishing some really exciting fiction and non-fiction authors. I’d been working in consumer PR for 3 years before my first job in publishing and I soon learnt that it really is the nicest industry. 

How long have you been working in your current job/role?
I decided to form my own PR and Communications company, BrandHive, late last year when I was on honeymoon. It was very much a ‘now or never’ moment ,and I’m so happy I took the leap - I’ve never been happier. I officially left Bonnier Zaffre where I was Head of PR in early February 2018, so I’ve only been in a freelance role for a couple of months so far.

Which books have you worked on recently/are you working on?
The book that I’m most proud to have worked on recently has been The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It’s based on the incredible true story of Lale Sokolov, who was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival at Auschwitz.  It’s also the place he met his wife. His story will make you weep, but it is also one of the most uplifting stories you’ll ever read.

In April, I’m working on the last book in the ‘Maestra’ trilogy by LS Hilton, and then in May, for a total change of pace, the last children’s book from lovely Isla Fisher! In the first half of 2018, I’m also working with Tramp Press, a small Irish independent who are bringing some really fresh voices to the market. Look out for Problems by Jade Sharma in May and Notes to Self by Emilie Pine in July!

Which qualifications/life skills/experience have helped you get to where you are today?
I knew that if I had a hope of getting a job after graduating (my degree was in marketing), I had to do as many work experience placements as possible. Over the course of three years, I did around 10 work experience placements. I was really lucky that one of those placements led to a job when I graduated. PR is an amazing job but I’ve found you need to be passionate, organised and creative. In any role, you need to be self motivated but to be freelance, more so than anything else.

I was very lucky to have a fantastic boss in my second job in publishing (at Little, Brown) and she taught me more than anyone else has. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without having had support from great colleagues and the personal drive of knowing that my end goal was creating my own company.

How do you relax after a busy working day?
I usually stop working around 8/9pm then cook something from one of my hundreds of cookbooks (it’s an addiction), pour a glass of wine, take the dog for a walk and catch up with friends and family at the local pub.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?
The last book I read for pleasure was Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Bonnier Zaffre didn’t publish any non-fiction (which I really missed!) so I would try to read at least one a month in between all the great fiction!

Describe your job in 15 words or less...
In its purest form, PR is the art and science of influencing public opinion through communications.

What have been the highlights of your publishing life so far
The one thing I absolutely love is creating brand and media partnerships for both the publishers I’ve worked with and individual authors. A couple of my favourites are:
  • A media partnership with Prospect magazine for a series of co-branded events, podcasts, subscription offers and reciprocal benefits
  • To launch social talent star, Louise Pentland’s first adult novel, I originated and executed a partnership with Glossybox, who featured a sampler of Wilde Like Me in every subscriber box, and I also devised and developed a partnership with Be At One cocktail bars who created a ‘Wilde Like Me’ cocktail to celebrate publication. It is now a permanent fixture on their menu.


I’m also really proud to have launched Isla Fisher’s series, which began with Marge in Charge two years ago.  We’ve worked together ever since. 

If you could try out any other job for one day (with no limits on money, travel etc.), what would you choose?
I would definitely be a movie producer. There are so many books I’d love to see turned into films. Tall Oaks and All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker would be the first ones I’d choose. It would be so fun to find the literary property, shape the idea into a viable film, raise the money, hire the director, choose the cast, oversee production and postproduction, mastermind the marketing, negotiate the worldwide rights — basically be a movie’s begetter and first demanding viewer…

If your publishing life was a book, what would the title be?
Warm wine. It basically sums up every book party ever!

Thanks so much for taking part, Emily!


Look out for more MY PUBLISHING LIFE features coming soon.

Click here to read more MY PUBLISHING LIFE features.

If any literary agents, publishers, publicists or editors would like to take part, please contact me through my blog or Twitter for the full list of questions.

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