In December 2018 I had a Skype call with Susan Cohen, director at The Wee Book Company, to discuss a marketing and publicity internship position that was due to begin in January 2019. I was nervous, and self-doubt was kicking in hard. What could I possibly offer her, having never worked for a publisher before? However, after about five minutes of conversation I felt eased by Susan’s enthusiastic, understanding and relaxed tones, and I felt nothing but excitement for the upcoming projects. I was delighted to be accepted into the team.
In early January we met at the fascinating yet, as Susan will exclaim profusely, extremely haunted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre for the first time with the whole team to plan and discuss the coming months.
Already I was experiencing new things. Taking a tour of this historic building that I’d never been to before and learning about the variety of holistic work that now goes on there: besides the ghosts in the basement you can get nutritional support, take an exercise class, or even have your own psychic reading from a professional medium! We talked over coffee and cake about the titles coming out this year and the marketing work that would need to be done during our time with the company. Tales of grannies saying funny things and men in kilts wurkin’ oot were very much on the agenda.
The first job for Sophie and I on the marketing and publicity front was to establish a social media presence for TWBC outside of Facebook, which Susan had already created. We made Twitter and Instagram pages which we were able to populate with content gathered at the Scottish Trade Fair we had attended in January. The next step was to generate content for Grannies’ Sayin’s, which was soon going through a second print run, and we had the idea of collating video clips of tourists out and about in Edinburgh attempting to read passages aloud from the book which is written in broad Scots.
Our first stop was the Castle and then we took to Greyfriars Bobby to find participants. Although we were apprehensive about approaching members of the public with our phone cameras, we were met with great enthusiasm at getting involved in our publicity task. Not even I, a native Scot, can fluently read some of the Scots phrases in the book, so I think our unsuspecting visitors did a grand job. Once released online, the two videos were received with zeal and we managed to generate over 1000 views overnight in both cases. Our total views pushed over 6.3k and we had around 700 engagements. Not bad for two new interns; Sophie and I were extremely proud.
The next book on our ‘to-market’ list was The Wee Scottish Book O’ Cludgie Banter. This time, instead of making videos, we thought we would take the book on a photographic tour of Edinburgh’s many public toilets and review the facilities at each attraction. Not only could we tailor these to be posted regularly on the run-up to the book’s release, we could make them light-hearted and a bit of fun to align with the company’s playful ethos. We’re excited to see how this photo series pans out and you can follow our #CludgieTour across our socials!
It is coming up to three months with The Wee Book Company and I am loving every second. Susan and her husband have been nothing but welcoming, passionate and insightful, and I feel we are learning lots about the industry from them and they are making it very accessible for us. Whilst at the Scottish Trade Fair in late January, we got to attend a marketing seminar and speak with potential buyers, publishers and book distributors. This allowed me to think about careers in distribution and sales that I had never even considered before. It was an invaluable day, and it showed me that taking that first step into the industry didn’t have to be as intimidating as I thought it would be. People are willing to talk to you. They are delighted to see interest in their industry and talk about what they do, so don’t be afraid to strike up a chat and ask questions!
Of course, none of this would have been possible for me had I not sat in front of my laptop a few days after Christmas, nervously awaiting a call from Susan. The whole experience so far has taught me to grasp every opportunity, even if it makes you anxious, and I implore you to do the same.
I can’t wait to see what we get up to over the rest of our time with this dynamic, humble team.