5 things whitefox learned in 2019

By   Hannah Bickerton 3 min read

whitefox publishing: helping brands, thought leaders and writers create beautiful bespoke books

It’s that time of year when we start getting misty-eyed and faintly nostalgic for the year that was 2019. The end of another decade, no less. Sometimes, proximity to events and outcomes can risk a rush to judgement and some rash evaluations, with learnings less useful than you’d like. But at whitefox, we’ve been trying to keep an eye on the big picture. And when we look up from the projects, from the drive just to do good work with creative people, it is possible to call out some of the more interesting trends.

Beautiful and bespoke

It isn’t just traditional publishers who have upped their game when it comes to the specifications of their physical books. With individuals and brands more savvy and selective than ever about what helps them differentiate their product in the marketplace, the whitefox office has never been filled with so many beautiful-looking books. From children’s illustrated fiction, to art and gardening and memoirs, prioritising and caring about design, paper quality and cover finishes really does seem to matter to creators and readers alike. If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it in style.

Opportunities and collaboration can be local and global

In a year where we opened an office in the US and moved to a large international distributor, and worked with writers and companies based on different continents, we’ve also loved collaborating on some amazingly targeted local projects. Books created for specific events or exhibitions, projects inspired by one school, college or council. Books in many cases representing a lasting connection for a group sharing a single creative objective in otherwise fractured cultural and political times.

Talent v experience 

Hiring has never been more important. In whatever part of the industry. And with a need to create a more diverse and level playing field, we’ve all got to get better at spotting and nurturing the best talent. Constantly. Growing can be hard so you need adaptable, smart individuals who like to be challenged and taken outside of their comfort zone. Experience and skills you can train and teach. But not everyone will have the aptitude or desire to evolve and develop into what is needed for your scaling business to succeed.

You can work out how to do pretty much everything

At the 2019 FutureBook Conference, the wonderful Sam Missingham took issue with something I’d said in an article written for The Bookseller whilst chairing one of the panel sessions. I had talked about the maturity of the market now for writers or brands going DIY. She thought we were still in the foothills or the teenage years of the self-publishing explosion. Maybe she is right. But this year, we have collaborated with authors whose knowledge of how to navigate every part of the publishing process is mightily impressive. OK, with editorial and design issues, maybe it is clear how to find people who can help realise your ambitions. And in the front of any book, you can find out who the printer was. But in what used to be the hinterland of seemingly impossible complexity – selling, digital marketing, publicising, rights, audio, translation, repro and production; I could go on – there are more mutually supportive networks, service providers, experienced and talented freelancers, organisations such as ALLi, more ways to source expert advice than there has ever been. And fortune will just keep on favouring the brave.

It is really never too late to start

A few of us from whitefox were lucky enough to attend the TBD (Technology Behaviour Data) Conference a few weeks back. As the title suggests, it was a day hearing about everything from cutting-edge developments in AI to cyber security to the future of data. We also saw a woman called Jane Evans give a brilliant talk. Jane runs an inspirational agency called The Uninvisibility Project, dedicated to bringing women over the age of 50 into the spotlight. The women who, as she explains in her talk, buy 47% of everything. And yet are largely ignored by advertisers and the media. Our favourite stat from her presentation?

It’s been proven that women over 55 make the best bosses and start-ups founded by people over 50 are 2.2 times more likely to succeed than those with founders in their 30s.

It really is never too late to take a risk and start something new. Maybe 2020 will be the year for you.


Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.