Has anyone else just slept the whole weekend after LBF19? Just me? Okay, that's cool, I don't mind admitting that those three days in London have worn me out to the extent that I've only left the sofa to walk the dogs. We hope everyone had an amazing time however you spent the three days, and we'd love to hear exactly what you got up to. As for us ...
We were both in London by midday, and had time for a catch-up and a plan of action in the (very swanky) hotel lobby. Then it was on to the Olympia, and let me tell you, going through those doors is a bit of a heady experience. There are literally thousands of people milling about, and hundreds of stalls to look over and exclaim when we recognised them. That day we had a meeting with the Department of International Trade, which obviously is a great indication that we're looking at taking Stirling Publishing beyond this small island. We got a lot of actionable tips and directions for bringing our books to the rest of the world, and we'll be looking at implementing them this year.
This was a busy day for us with meetings running from 10am. We're looking at how to make it even easier for people to access our books across a range of formats, and we've been considering whether third party software is the most useful way of doing it. We've still got some thinking to do on what will be best for our readers, but either way it was extremely useful to learn about he different and interesting options available to us.
We also returned to the Department of International Trade (yep, we're really keen on getting out into the rest of the world) for some really insightful conversations on conquering the international market. Sometimes you go into these things expecting kind of vague self-explanatory nuggets of wisdom like "have prize-winning books that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies," which, yeah, that helps, but what if you don't? We're a new independent press with two titles currently published (two bloody amazing titles, though) and in that respect we can't command international attention in the same way as a press that has been established for sixty years and has published twenty-thousand titles. But our meetings didn't go like that. We were fortunate enough to talk with some top-class professionals, who gave us basic resources and step-by-step plans to help us realise our goals. Our Wednesday was perhaps the most useful for us in developing the business, and also pretty inspiring in how it made us consider our potential.
Thursday was a big day for Stirling Publishing. Our founder and commissioning editor Tabby Stirling had developed a panel to discuss the successes of women over forty-five in publishing. Tabby was there to talk about how she set up our own Stirling Publishing two years ago as well as her recently published book Bitter Leaves, and she was also joined by Sam Missingham, who set up Lounge Marketing, a book marketing membership for authors, and Kate Macdonald, who founded Handheld Press.
The speakers talked about how they had overcome drawbacks, most of which would be familiar with professional women even outside of the publishing industry. Women-centric issues surrounding pregnancy and birth were discussed alongside the female responsibility for raising and caring for children, highlighting how obstacles begin in the home and our personal lives before we even make it to the office. Our biology can also conspire against us, with menopause symptoms and accusations of PMT being used to deflect our capabilities.
Finding a new role later in life is made more difficult when women are tarred with the dual drawback of ageism and sexism. There were frank recounting for women being passed over jobs because of their age, and workplace politics becoming soured when an older woman presumes to enter a company at a higher role than those who have worked there for longer, as if experiences outside of one particular business are redundant. The audience engaged with discussions on sexism in the workplace -- how we suffer when we bear in silence, and are likely to suffer more if we raise it as a concern, with disciplinaries and even firings occurring when women speak out. We also spoke about the judgements that are made about female professionals -- whether the choose to go child-free, or give up work to raise children, or hire childcare to continue working.
It was a fantastic seminar, and we'd love to highlight all of the points we went over, but it would be impossible to condense it all into a short blog post, and it certainly wouldn't convey the feeling in the session. It wasn't a complaint of the challenges of being a woman: instead we celebrated the tenacity of women who don't allow the surrounding pressures to beat them down. We may have additional responsibilities, and we may or may not have the support of significant others in our lives (whether that's financial or emotional), but we do have grit and determination. We were also able to celebrate the support that women provide for each other, particularly as we become older. There's a sense of comradery and partnership rather than competition, and it's this which enable us to make great things happen.
Back up north
We're all back home now, raring to go after our successes in London. We're making plans for the release of our newest titles, and we're so excited to share them with you. Keep tuned on Twitter, Instagram, and with our email newsletter