Category Archives: Network

Q&A with Shazam’s Jeremy LoCurto

By | Digital, Insight, Interview, Network | No Comments

JeremyJeremy is based in Silicon Valley and leads key business development initiatives at Shazam. Prior to working in the tech industry, he spent several years at HarperCollins Publishers in London after graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, with a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature. You can connect with him here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremylocurto/

Tell us a bit about your job.

I work on Shazam’s business development team and lead partnerships focused on user growth and new revenue opportunities. I’m also a commercial advisor for a digital marketing and analytics startup called Amplespot. 

How ( if at all ) did the skills and experience you acquired working for a traditional book publisher help you in subsequent roles at Samsung and Shazam?

The lessons I learned from publishing were influenced by a few historically unique events that took place while I was working in the industry. In particular: the financial crisis and its aftermath, the birth of the app economy, and Amazon’s rise as the western world’s dominant bookseller. These events taught me that no assumption or status quo is sacrosanct and that you must always be ready to move fast so that you can take advantage of disruption when it comes. 

On the flip side — spending my formative years immersed in an industry with famously long production cycles forced me to develop a long-term perspective on product and commercial strategy that’s been a useful counterweight to the faster-paced environments I’ve worked in since. It requires a different kind of thinking to anticipate trends and make big bets on the next zeitgeist. And books take a long time to make! You have to plan for unforeseen complications that may come up ten months down the line when you have twenty thousand books chugging across the ocean on a cargo ship. I learned a lot watching talented publishers mingle gut-decisions with foresight. 

How might digital innovation continue to disrupt traditional content owning brands?

I think there are two angles to look at here: 1) structural shifts in the way content is financed and distributed; 2) and a longer-term evolution in content creation. 

A big finance story in the music space last week was the move by Royalty Exchange to offer investors the chance to buy shares in a music rights portfolio that includes Eminem’s catalogue. It’s not hard to imagine content ownership increasingly decoupled from content production. What changes in a world where royalty rights are owned by pension funds and day traders rather than authors or publishers? Does anything change? And when it comes to distribution, consider that Netflix spent $6bn on original content productions last year. Together with Amazon and Hulu, they are starting to outspend legacy studios on content destined for exclusive distribution on their platforms. Some streaming music platforms, like Saavn, have launched their own labels. Another music streaming service was recently called out for publishing original generic content in their popular playlists. Maybe this points to a greater trend towards vertical integration within the content industry. 

From a content creation standpoint, I think that data and machine learning will continue to upend traditional processes. Today, book publishers have unprecedented access to user data at scale that simply wasn’t feasible in the world of bricks and mortar distribution. User info like gender / age / income / timestamp(s) / location(s) / device type has clear value for sales and marketing activities and is probably starting to influence commissioning decisions. Beyond enhanced demographic data, advances in machine learning could make the kind of corpus analyses that dictionaries have been doing for decades relevant to commercial publishers. Could you train an algorithm to find the next big author by teaching it what bestsellers look like and then unleashing it on Wattpad? Could you feed an AI enough cold war spy novels so that you could train it to output something that’s enough like John Le Carre to sell commercially? I’m sure some publishers are already experimenting with things like this.

Tell us the next big thing in tech.

I’d wager that the biggest tech stories in the next five years will be autonomous vehicles and augmented reality. I think both have the potential to be interesting for book publishers.

When Level 5 autonomy (i.e. fully self-driving cars) arrives, people who used to drive will have lots of leisure time during their commutes. Maybe they’ll fill it by reading. 

Mass-market augmented reality will create huge opportunities to layer content onto users’ surroundings in real time. I get really excited imagining the awesome experiences that people will build for AR using content that is in book format today. 

What books have influenced you the most?

A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.

Quickfire Q&A with Literary Agent Clare Conville

By | Agents, Author, Business, Editing, Entrepreneur, Guest Post, Insight, Interview, Network, Publishing & Consultancy, Writing | No Comments

Listed by the Observer as one of ‘our top 50 players in the world of books’, Clare worked as an editor at Random House before co-founding Conville & Walsh in 2000. Clare is the co-author of Dangerous Women: The Guide To Modern Life and co-curator of the Curious Arts Festival.

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Nominate: The Unsung Heroes of Publishing 2017

By | Agents, Author, Brand Publishing, Design, Digital, Editing, Events, Freelance, Ghostwriters, Grads, Network, Publishing & Consultancy, Self publishing, Startup, Students, Translation | No Comments

Unsung Heroes 2017

It’s that time of year again: time to spread goodwill and show some appreciation for your favourite colleagues, freelancers and employees. After last year’s inaugural vote, we are particularly looking forward to this year’s Unsung Heroes of Publishing campaign, where we hope to highlight a new group of exceptional publishing specialists.

This year, we’d once again like your help shining a light on publishing professionals who are particularly talented, enterprising and trusted in their respective roles, but who may not have received the broader recognition they deserve. Last year’s campaign confirmed what great stock authors put in their editors and designers. This year we want to celebrate some of publishing’s less visible – and less lionised – contributors, with a focus on the breadth of disciplines needed to make good books happen.

Whether you want to sing the praises of your production controller or recognise your recipe developer, we’re hoping for a range of submissions that reflects the diverse skillset each book represents. We’d particularly encourage you to nominate members of the freelance community, on whom so much of publishing depends but who, by the nature of what they do, often fly under the radar.

Whoever they are, if they deserve a pat on the back, send us an email below or to info@wearewhitefox.com with their name, job title, employer (if relevant) and a few sentences about what makes them praiseworthy. Let us know whether you’re happy for us to use your name and statement if your nominee gets selected, and that’s it!

The final selection will be influenced by recommendations, but also by the number of submissions received. So if you know that other people agree your nominee deserves extra recognition, ask them to submit their own recommendation, too.

 

Nominate a deserving colleague for #UH0P17!

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Q&A with internal designer Amanda Scope

By | Design, Interview, Network | No Comments

Amanda Scope is an Austrian-born graphic designer, with over 15 years experience in magazine and book publishing, She has designed covers and layouts for various lifestyle and fashion magazines, anthologies and trade books. We spoke to Amanda about the difference between working on self-published and traditionally published books, whether or not you need a degree to work in print design and the most gratifying aspect of her job.

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