Ariana writes: “For the last month or so I have had the amazing opportunity to be an intern with Snowbooks, an independent publishing house in the village of Thame. Working two days a week, I have been warmly accepted and kindly tolerated as I’ve tried to take in as much knowledge and information as possible. It is an interesting place to work, because aside from being a publishing house, it is also a software company called Consonance. Emma Barnes, the CEO of both Snowbooks and Consonance, realised that the world of publishing was lacking an easy and elegant system to perform all the behind-the-scenes admin that goes into producing a book.
I think this amalgamation of publishing and software under the same roof is brilliant. I knew going into this experience that there would be a lot of reading and admin involved, and with Consonance, once I got over my fear of accidentally messing everything up by clicking the wrong button, the process has been so easy! From what everyone in the office has told me, and from some of my own research, publishing in general is quite behind on software, meaning that a lot of the tasks I have easily performed while at Snowbooks would be ten times more complicated somewhere else. I’m very proud to be able to say that I was a part of this group of people innovating the system, even if I had nothing to do with the software itself, having no coding experience.
Rather, during this internship, I have tackled the publishing process from a few different angles, thanks to Emma’s guidance. I spent the first week working with two very different books, both in the process of printing for their imminent release dates. One was an ACE Gamebook by Jonathan Green, which I thoroughly enjoyed exploring. The other was a somewhat meta book about writing by Paul Magrs, which I got completely lost in for a full day. For each book I was to come up with a way to promote it creatively, which was a fun brainstorm. I certainly gained a few skills in terms of research and the use of social media. I’m also proud to say that Jonathan Green ended up using my promotion idea in the end.
Having broken the ice with the finished product, I was then introduced to the scary process of putting it together. I had plenty of terminology thrown at me: meta-data, AI, typesetting, ONIX, P&L… I must admit, I was worried it would all go in one ear and out the other, but Emma is a good teacher, and very open to questions, and the software is designed to help you, and so, as I played around with it, inventing a book concept and creating all the data for it, I learnt. After that I got to go through the submission pile, a task both exciting and arduous, and once I had narrowed it down to a few I chose one of the manuscripts to take further. Once more I put together all the data I could for it, and can now say that I have produced an almost complete external and internal AI.
It’s been such a fascinating experience; from the start Emma informed me that she would be throwing me in to all the worst bits of publishing, so I could be aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and make an informed decision about my future career. Though it’s not the most comforting thing to hear when you are starting something new, I’m grateful for this attitude of honesty and helpfulness. I have survived everything so far, which gives me hope, and the whole team is eager to help me or answer my questions.
The idea of an internship can often seem arduous and pointless, especially if (like me) you are finishing your studies and looking at entering into the world of work, but I have found this time to be so useful. It’s been a time of reflection and learning, and it has given me an insight into the industry, meaning I will be informed as I move forward and make decisions about my future. Being at Snowbooks/Consonance has also shown me that a business can be small and independent but also creative and fun. I have felt so at home here, and I am very grateful to have had this chance.”
Are your current systems sabotaging your growth ambitions? Are you hungry to implement new business models, but concerned you lack the strong administrative foundations needed for innovation?
We're always amazed at how resigned publishers have had to become to the low bar in publishing management systems. Demand more.