Meet the Gatekeepers- Henry Rowley from New Frontier Publishing

How did you get your start in the publishing industry?

I started taking an interest in Publishing as a career when I was at school, but decided to go down the Business Studies route when I went to University, rather than something more typically associated with publishing, like English. While I was studying Business in Bristol I became more set on the idea of publishing, and decided to try and get the ball rolling. From there I took part in an ‘insight day’ at Hachette and then my first internship, in Editorial at Jonathan Cape. In my final year of uni I became aware of the various Publishing MA courses that were available, and decided that this was the best way to increase my chances of getting in to the industry. I enrolled on UCL’s MA in Publishing, on which I learnt so much about all aspects of the business, and completed another internship, this time at Simon and Schuster. Publicity and Marketing really caught my attention on the course, and I realised that this was the area for me! After a gruelling period of job applications, I was thrilled to be offered a job as a Marketing Assistant with New Frontier Publishing, where I now work as a Publicist.

2. What is the most interesting part of your job?

Working directly with the authors and illustrators is brilliant, and it’s always interesting (and occasionally nerve-wracking) accompanying them to the events we’ve organised for them. It’s very satisfying indeed when they are happy with how their books are doing. Passing on lovely reviews to them is just great, particularly when they’re first time authors and illustrators. There’s such a variety of different people that I’m in contact with day to day, and it’s heartening to see how supportive those who work in and around children’s publishing are to each other. There really is a strong sense of collaboration, and a feeling of shared purpose.

3. What are the challenges of your role?

Organising events has its challenges. It’s often difficult for bookshops to bring in crowds, and they’re sometimes understandably hesitant to hold events. Trying to get publicity for first-time authors in this way is tricky. I’m genuinely so grateful to the wonderful bloggers who help get these authors in the public eye. It really bolsters our ability to pitch author and illustrator events to bookshops and other venues. Sometimes brilliant books that everyone has worked very hard on don’t do as well as you would have hoped. This is certainly another challenge, and definitely an unpredictable part of the job.

4. Describe a typical day or are no two days a like?

There are certain tasks which need doing regularly, typically more administrative things. For the most part though, the days are all quite different. New Frontier has a busy publishing schedule, and we have to constantly shift our attention between the different books that are coming out, all with their own unique characteristics! One minute I might be looking into a launch venue, the next I might be chatting to Booktrust about a new campaign. It’s certainly never dull… Last year I spent a day shooting a music video outside Buckingham Palace with author and entertainer Deano Yipadee, for his book, Ron the Royal Guard. I

frantically followed him around Central London as he presented the book to strangers while dressed as The Queen. Other highlights of the day included an ‘unscheduled’ appearance in Trafalgar Square Waterstones and witnessing Deano sprint through St James’s Park in his underpants and a bearskin hat. Late last year we launched the Gregory Goose is on the Loose books at an inner-city London Farm, which was another unusual highlight.

5. Tips for Book Bloggers?

I don’t think you need any tips from me! We are just very grateful to have the support of bloggers, especially as there is very little coverage of children’s books in the press. As a smaller, independent publisher we really do rely on the bloggers for book reviews. Occasionally we aren’t tagged on social media when a review appears – that’s one thing I would stress is very important. If we aren’t tagged then there’s a chance we may never see the review. This is rare though!

6. What are you currently reading?

I’ve nearly finished Deborah Levy’s latest novel, The Man Who Saw Everything. It’s brilliant and quite ambitious in a way – I love her writing. I’m also reading Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell. It’s a funny, clever and surprisingly moving look at the end of days. It was published last month… uncomfortably good timing I reckon. Next on the list is Ottessa Moshfegh’s new novel. She’s one of my favourite people writing at the moment.

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