Huge news from us today on day 2 of the London Book Fair 2017. Here’s the full press release! Thanks to The Bookseller for covering it.

Consonance, the publishing system started by Emma Barnes in 2011, has hired publisher-turned-programmer Sara O'Connor. O’Connor will join the tech startup in early April.

O'Connor was previously Editorial and Digital Director at Hot Key Books but, partly inspired by self-taught programmer Barnes, retrained at the coding boot camp Makers Academy. She was soon hired into a developer role at trade promotion management software company Exceedra. Eighteen months on, she returns to publishing to join the impressive Consonance team, including fellow Bookseller Rising Star Emily Labram.

Consonance is a growing tech company. It recently won the IPG GBS Award for Services to Independent Publishers and its CEO Emma Barnes was highly commended as the latest FutureBook Digital Leader. Its growing roster of over 30 clients includes the Institute of Physics, Pharmaceutical Press, Canelo, Unbound, Zed Books and Liverpool University Press.

Sara O'Connor says:

I’ve always been obsessed with - and keen to improve - the software and processes that the publishing industry uses to make a book a success. Joining the talented team at Consonance as a developer is a dream come true. Now, I can spend my days helping to make the technology of publishing better, to get more books more easily into the hands of readers.

Emma Barnes says:

We couldn’t be more delighted to have lured a talent of Sara’s standing to Consonance. I am particularly proud that her arrival means we will have more women than men on the team, which stands in stark opposition to most tech companies. Sara shares our mission of liberating publishers to do the work that matters — a mission which is needed more than ever in these times of political strife. And as Sara knows both publishing and programming, the whole team is very excited to see what new heights her expertise helps us to reach.

O'Connor will also be helping Consonance in their mission to skill up the publishing industry. She will train publishers to code in April at the next of Consonance’s oversubscribed programming workshops for publishers, in partnership with Bookmachine, for which all profits will go to charity.

Barnes said:

It’s clear from the length of the waiting lists and the speed with which they sell out [the latest course sold out within 24 hours] for our courses that there’s a burning desire among publishers - especially women: marketers, editors, salespeople - to learn these vital skills. And there’s increasing recognition from the top down of the need for publishers to innovate in ways that really meet the needs of their customers and authors - and that it’s possible to empower their own staff to take on these skills. Programming, design, product management and user experience skills can powerfully enhance an editorial or marketing skillset, and reduce the risk and cost of hiring expensive agencies. We are excited and hopeful to see plenty more people who might not have considered themselves to be ‘technical’ follow Sara’s lead.