Welcome to the whitefox blog, featuring musings on the future of publishing and interviews with authors, publishers, agents, designers and more.

Crystalgazing: the Future of Publishing

By | Publishing & Consultancy, Startup | No Comments

I wasn’t able to get to Contec at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year, so I missed the discussion Where Would You Place Your Bet, looking into a crystal ball about the future of publishing. But I’ve read the Schilling report, created after consultations with publishers around the world which asked the question “How would they go about it if they had to start all over?”

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UK publication of The Amulet of Sleep with Kobo.

By | Author, Digital, Freelance, Publishing & Consultancy, Self publishing | No Comments

The Amulet of Sleep is the opening book in the Iskìda of the Land of Nurak trilogy, a series of epic fantasy novels for YA readers. Already award-winning in Italy, Andrea Atzori’s home country, the books look set to join the booming market for genre fiction. Having found success after publishing traditionally in Italian, Atzori turned his sights internationally. He saw the UK’s ever-increasing appetite for magical fiction as the perfect fit for his venture into independent, foreign self-publishing. Available this month from Kobo, The Amulet of Sleep will not disappoint fantasy fans of all ages.

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Work Spaces for Freelancers: Founder

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5836178_origFOUNDER is a sleek four-floor office space reimagined for freelancers and small businesses. The dynamic environment fosters creativity, productivity and collaboration, ideal for freelancers looking for an alternative venue which reflects the creative work they do. But, what makes FOUNDER different from other creative spaces for freelancers? We asked the important questions to find out more.

Can you describe FOUNDER in a few sentences?

The newly launched space sits on Regent’s Canal between Victoria Park and Bethnal Green.  Generous reclaimed timber desks, comfy leather chairs and a roof terrace appeal to individuals or small businesses who may have outgrown the high-octane environment of places like silicon roundabout. The space is organically enriched by bountiful ferns and potted plants to cleanse the air and enhance wellbeing.

What do you think the most important benefits to freelancers are of working in a space like FOUNDER, rather than a café or a library?

We hope to offer our co-workers an unprecedented chance to work, create and grow, on their own terms, in an environment that doesn’t just support productivity and wellbeing, but actively fosters it. Given that most of our members are entirely self-dependent, maintaining or indeed improving physical and mental wellbeing is paramount to the Founder ethos.

What aspect of the space or FOUNDER’s philosophy do you think adds the most to its function as a working environment?

Community and collaboration are at the heart of Founder. Developed across four floors, the space plays host to a variety of pop-up events which aim to support and showcase its members work. Through curating a programme of events for those working alongside each other, we believe we are creating as many possibilities as possible for our members so that they can, together, achieve more success.

What facilities and services do you provide for hot-deskers?

Co-workers are encouraged to use and nurture a communal herb garden for botanical teas and healthful salads. Stimulating essential oils, free communal juicer and fruit box delivery are additional touches to help their members feel good. London has such a vast offering of high tech incubators and managed workspaces. We hope to be a slower-paced and sophisticated addition to the desk rental landscape, one that is affordable, flexible and luxe.

We are not all about wheat-grass and yoga, though, we also have drinks every Friday!

What are the prices for using FOUNDER?

Daily Rate: £20.00 from 9am- 7pm

Weekly Rate: £60.00 for 5 day access from 9am-7pm

Monthly Rate: £230.00 per month all inclusive with a dedicated desk and 24/7 access.

FOUNDER also offers private and semi-private workspaces for businesses of 3 to 24 individuals and offers free tea and coffee for all.

You can find out more about FOUNDER by taking a look at their Twitter account, here, and their website, here.

This is our final post in a series about the best places to work as a publishing freelancer. If you want to find out what we thought about the other spaces we found out about, you can read our posts here and here.

Work Spaces for Freelancers: @Work Hubs

By | Publishing & Consultancy | No Comments

photo4   At whitefox we thrive on the work of many talented publishing freelancers, but we know that sometimes it can be a struggle to find an inspiring and productive place to work. This is the second in our series of investigations into the best places to work as a freelancer… (Our first post was here) @Work Hubs describe themselves as a “business eco-system.” Based in central London, this is a place where freelancers and entrepreneurs can work in a secure co-working environment, avoiding the isolation of working from home and the noise of working in a café. We spoke to Philip Dodson to find out more about this new, exciting option for freelancers looking for a space to work.

How long has @Work Hubs been running for and why was it originally set up? What is your ethos? @Work Hubs was established in February 2013 and the ethos is very much about helping start-ups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and business people find a flexible, productive and affordable place to work and connect with others.  

What facilities and services does @Work Hubs have and what is the security like? The space provides shared desk space, meeting space, a lounge, kitchen, private offices, and lockers. The space can only be accessed by membership card or buzzer and also has CCTV for security.  

What are the prices for using @Work Hubs? The space can be used on a pay-as-you-go daily rate of £29 +VAT, on a range of flexible monthly memberships from £80 +VAT for 24 hours use, through to £300 +VAT for unlimited usage. The meeting room can be booked by the hour at £30 +VAT.

Where is @Work Hubs located and what are the transport links like? @Work Hubs is conveniently located just one minute from Euston mainline & Underground Station, one minute from Euston Square Underground and 6-7 minutes from Kings Cross/St Pancras mainline and Underground Stations.

What do you think the benefits are for freelancers working in a space like yours, rather than just in a café or a library? The major benefit of using the hub versus a coffee shop or library is that we have great security, super fast fibre internet, reliable wi-fi, events and others to connect with. Not only that, but this is a proper business working environment.

See @Work Hubs’ website for more details about how you could use the space for your freelance work.

Work Spaces for Freelancers: Duke Studios

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Here at whitefox, we know how difficult it can be, as a publishing freelancer, to find a comfortable place to work which encourages productivity and wellbeing. So we decided to investigate the best work spaces for freelancers on offer. First up is Duke Studios…

Duke Studios, situated in the heart of Leeds, is a multi-disciplinary creative space. Described as a “hub of collaboration and creativity” it is an ideal base for freelancers looking for a place to work and network outside of the capital. We interviewed James Abbott-Donnelly, one of the co-founders of Duke Studios, to find out more about the space. 

What was your idea behind Duke Studios?

Duke Studios was created to provide an inspirational creative work space in the heart of Leeds. We basically “scratched our own itch.” Myself and Laura Wellington founded Duke; I’m a photographer and Laura is a furniture and lighting designer. We couldn’t find an appropriate place in Leeds to house our businesses in so we decided we would create it. The idea was to create a fun and different-looking place with different levels of workspace to meet diverse needs and varying budgets. The space would also provide affordable facilities to the creative industries and general public.

What facilities and services does Duke Studios have and what is the security like?

Duke currently provides three levels of workspace, drop in co-working, permanent desks and varying sizes of studio spaces. We also have a variety of on site services including laser cutting, vinyl cutting, meeting rooms, a photography studio, a workshop, and event space.

We deliberately run open plan space in order to facilitate networks and collaboration. We very carefully manage the users of the space and craft the community. Physical security is tight with several layers of key card and code access required to come and go.

What kind of people work at Duke Studios and what sort of work do they generally do?

Our residents are makers and doers in their field, including: designers, photographers, bloggers, social media experts, copywriters, interior designers, brand consultants, community managers, retail designers, makers, event planners, web designers, architects, digital consultants, illustrators, graphic designers, fashion writers, landscape architects, film makers, talent agencies, coders, software engineers, product designers, typographers, writers and editors.

These talented individuals and teams socialise, share, collaborate and grow together. Duke Studios built the space but the people make it.

What are the prices for using Duke Studios?

Co-working: £85 per month (including VAT)
Permanent Desks: £210 per month (including VAT)
Studios: £360-595 per month (including VAT)

What do you think the benefits are for freelancers working in a space like yours, rather than just in a café or a library?

Collaboration is king; we provide a specifically designed space to encourage and enable connections and growth. Duke makes meeting people easy and hassle free. One of our pillars was to network without “networking” (we hate quick intro, business card swapping network events) whether its bouncing around ideas, going for beers at the end of a long day, combining companies to create a bigger team to bid on projects, outsourcing work or simply getting advice on whatever it is that you need. Duke provides a space to work and socialise without name badges, business cards or pull up banners.

If you would like to discover more about Duke Studios you can check out their website and Facebook page.

How do you solve a problem like PR?

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Every start-up wants to develop a platform. Everyone’s trying to leverage a network. You have to tell enough of the right people that you exist for there to be any hope of turning that ten-slide pitch (the last slide illustrating your exit strategy) into a reality of any kind. But I still marvel at the sheer amount of content that gets spun. Most of it consists of blindingly obvious truisms that get re-tweeted again and again — and this is described as ‘engagement’. Stop it. Do work. Do good work of which you are proud, and tell people about that.

It’s like the basic rules of good storytelling. Show, don’t tell. PR is good for your ego, but what is better for your ROI is creating a great product that solves a problem. Now that’s worth PRing.

Life at the Crossroads

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The curse of the generalist, specialists say, is to believe you can do anything reasonably well. But doing everything is more interesting. whitefox is predicated on the existence of an entire network of specialists, and from the office, we see the whole picture. So you might say we have it both ways.

Going up a level, the space whitefox occupies in the publishing industry as a whole never ceases to fascinate me. We should be as simple and as focussed as we can be. We realise that. If we could do one single thing quicker, better, cheaper than anyone else, we’d be buying a big stake in Snapchat right now just for the hell of it. But all I know is that on one day in August, one day at a time of year when the pace of work is meant to slow down to a summer stroll, we were approached by:

– a Swedish publisher looking for an English translator for a music book

– a national children’s brand wanting a project editor and writer for a marketing campaign

– a business wanting editorial and design support for a self-published e-book series

– a scientific charitable foundation wanting a digital iteration of their forthcoming exhibition catalogue

– a writer based in Singapore wanting a copy-edit for their commercial novel

This isn’t intended as anything other than an opportunity to glory in the diversity of what publishing means to so many different people. Half of this may not even come to anything beyond an initial enquiry. But simply by positioning ourselves at the crossroads between content owners, creators and talented individuals who can answer their questions whitefox has become involved in some wonderful creative projects. It would be rather perverse not to see where it all ends up.

Some Suspicions

By | Publishing & Consultancy | No Comments

It seems that one major online corporation is rarely out of the news at the moment. Since there’s no dearth of well-researched articles about Amazon, here’s a theory about their influence based on nothing more than supposition. No data, no inside information, nada. Zip.

Global publishing has been buoyed in recent years by a string of books that have exploded globally like supernovas.  From The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to The Hunger Games, from Twilight to 50 Shades, publisher accountants have separated out such business altering exceptions so as not to distort their day job of copyright exploitation.

So why have there been none of those in the past two years? Sure, John Green seems permanently rooted to the bestseller list. Divergent seems to have helped HarperCollins post some good figures recently, and Egmont have had fun with the Minecraft books. But no bubble, no books that everyone seems to be reading or talking about.

Now, it could just be that nothing has emerged. That no publisher or indie writer has recently hit on the alchemical formula for mass consumption. Before Harry Potter and Dan Brown, you could argue that it had been a while since Bridget Jones or Thomas Harris. But maybe it’s because the last two years have coincided with Amazon’s being the dominant global seller of books, a business in which promotion and buying and selling is now based on the science of algorithms, not the instincts and experience of a publisher. It is truly consumer driven. And that is not how these bubbles come about.  They come about because international publishing machines focus and prioritise and market to the exclusion of other books to amplify the first shoots of success.

Just a theory, based on a hunch, rolled up in a ponder. Of course, we could just all need a holiday…

The Rhythms of Indie Writers

By | Self publishing | No Comments

When you’re representing freelancing talent to publishers and corporates, you have to get used to the peaks and troughs that dot the publishing calendar. When we set up whitefox, we were raring to go 24/7, and some of the patterns that had been familiar to us when we worked in a large organisation started to frustrate us, peering in from the outside. In December, no one makes a decision in December that can’t be put off til January. August is both holiday-quiet for senior execs and crazy-busy for the teams assembling those all-important Christmas books. The London and Frankfurt bookfairs are distractions for entire organisations.

So August 2014 has been something of a revelation inside whitefox towers. We now enjoy a steady pulse of work, a rhythm and flow that is dictated not by companies but by individuals. In the world of indie writers, deadlines are self-determined. The pace of workflow is your own, month after month.

We like the new rhythm and hum of regular work with writers who are self-publishing. We like it a lot.



‘The geography of publishing’ in the 21st Century

By | Events, Publishing & Consultancy | No Comments

In James Salter’s recent novel All That Is, Salter uses the wonderful phrase ‘the geography of publishing’ to describe the networks of individuals in the late 20th century who worked on different lists, in different countries, but who liked the same books and kept in touch. They would meet, drink and gossip at the annual Fairs and gatherings and on work trips throughout the year – work trips that required little justification other than a possibility that you could be in the right place at the right time when something interesting came up.

Something like this this still happens, of course. Publishers and editors in their 40s and 50s have established networks of like-minded peers in companies across the world. But what does this geography look like, these days, and how important is it? Are the epicentres of decision-making, once in New York and London, now in Seattle and Luxembourg? These days, isn’t it more likely that international connections exist within a single company conglomerate, where the unquantifiable value of human interaction might be perceived as a smaller return on investment than a round robin email? (And is all this really more about, say, French MBA grads raising money to brief Latvian digital developers on creating new Software-as-a-Service products?)

The very premise of e-publishing breaks down many of the traditional borders and boundaries. It isn’t just that your typesetting can be in India and your printing in Dubai. Decisions made on the basis of algorithms applied to consumer behaviour seem more interesting now to CEOs than books thought up in the bar of the Hessischer Hof hotel in the early hours of a Frankfurt October morning.

At whitefox we are seeing what it is like to work with brands who have specific content marketing strategies in different countries. With writers who are published in one territory, and who are looking to self-publish and market their own work in another. And with our freelancers, who work anywhere and everywhere. Talent is talent, no matter what the time zone.

But we do share in some of the nostalgia for past times. Not for elitism or perpetuating a literary reading culture defined by a select few. But for the serendipity of the creative and intuitive travelling publisher-magpie. I was in a meeting room in the 90s when Penguin’s Peter Mayer and Peter Carson returned from a trip to Barcelona and threw a battered orange box full of small 100 peseta books across a long board room table. Short form digestible fiction and non-fiction, both commercial and literary, in cut off paperbacks, all under 100 pages, and sold alongside the gum and the cigarettes in Spanish kiosks.

They became the model for the millions of Penguin 60s sold in 1995. (Think a 20th century version of the burgeoning Kindle Singles.) Sometimes you can just be in the right place at the right time.