Monday, 14 February 2011

Inside an adoption and fostering publications team

BAAF’s very own Michelle Bell gives her account of life as the Publications Marketing Officer.

BAAF publishes more than 25 books and other resources on adoption and fostering every year and it’s my job to make sure that as many people as possible know what they are about, how they can use them and, of course, how they can get hold of copies. I work as part of a seven-strong Publications team and we all have distinct roles and responsibilities. I’ve been doing my job as Marketing Officer for just over five years and I still really enjoy it. Every book is different, with unique challenges and opportunities, and this keeps my work interesting.

There is no such thing as a typical week for me – my workload is largely driven by which books are published when. As I work part time it’s not always possible for me to read every book we publish so I rely heavily on the book editors in the team, as well as on the authors, to provide me with as much information as possible on each title’s content, key points and potential audience. Some of our books are very niche – like practice guides on specific issues for social workers – whilst others have a far broader appeal. For example, BAAF’s Our Story series explores the highs and lows of adoption through first person accounts and it appeals not just to adopters and childcare professionals but also to anyone who enjoys a good human interest story. Whatever the type of book or the subject matter, I’ve got to get to grips with it quickly.

I make sure that I produce a promotional flyer for all new titles. Thousands of these get used in mailings and at exhibitions, conferences and workshops every year. It’s also important that our books are attractively presented on the BAAF website (and included in other web-based bookshops) as more and more people are searching and shopping for books online.

If a book has just been published I’ll be busy sending out review copies to magazines and journals both in the UK and internationally. Book reviews are a great way of spreading the word about a new title and the good thing about BAAF publications is that bad reviews are few and far between. I can only think of two or three in the last five years! I also send out targeted promotional mailings to BAAF members and customers for very new title. This can be by email or by regular post – it’s just important that the information gets out there.

There are points within the year when I have larger projects to work on in addition to book promotions. For example, we produce four different catalogues and it’s really important to pay attention to details to ensure that everything runs smoothly. These may be small things that nobody else would notice, but they will bug me until I get them right!

Of course there are days when I am just sending emails, putting mailings together or writing copy. But every so often there is the opportunity to work on a really exciting project, like the event we held to celebrate the publication of an anthology called The Colours in Me. The children and young people who contributed their personal experiences of adoption to the book came together at The Drill Hall in London to read their stories and poetry to a packed audience of over 200 people. It was a privilege to hear them, in their words, revealing what it feels like and what it means to be adopted. It’s days like these which really bring my job to life.

Check out all of our books in the BAAF bookshop.

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