Q&A with Alice Geary and Jenny Banks

Alice and Jenny

1- What does your role within the SYP Committee involve?

As speaker events coordinators, our role is to organise events throughout the year to talk about the latest trends, developments and debates in the publishing world, as well as to help students and young people progress in the industry. We host events with speakers from across all aspects of publishing for SYP members to learn more about the ever-changing publishing industry. Events are topical and increasingly pertinent, like Open Access and freelancing, but we also like to think outside the box and explore areas of publishing that receive less coverage, such as our event on comics and graphic novels. We also like to mix up the form our events take so all attendees can make the most of the evening, be it panel talk, networking, or debates. Our role involves booking venues, reaching out to industry experts, briefing speakers on how the event will run and writing copy for our marketing team.

2- What was your favourite event to organise?

AG: My favourite event to organise was 'Comics and Graphic Novels: The Genre Rises' because it is a genre that I really wanted to read more of and learn more about. We were lucky enough to secure speakers from Rebellion and The Phoenix Comic, who are strong players in the comic world, but who also work in very different markets. We hosted the event in the Phoenix Cinema bar which was the perfect intimate venue to hear the speakers bounce off each other, giving a brief history of the genre as well as talking about the different challenges they face.

JB: The event that stands out most to me was the 'Publicity and Marketing Mingle'. We had some fantastic speakers sharing their knowledge and a brilliant turnout from students and young professionals. This event was a networking evening, and it was brilliant to see people come together and make new contacts. Princeton University Press also very kindly offered an attendee a work experience placement at their offices in Woodstock. (Sometimes I like to think the Speaker Events Coordinators are also like publishing matchmakers...). The 'Publicity and Marketing Mingle' was held at The Jam Factory (amazing food!), one of our favourite venues for holding speaker events - securing a suitable and friendly venue is also an important job for Alice and I.

3- How do you think about your ideas for events and how do you go about finding speakers?

We listen to what is going on in the publishing world through various channels such as The Bookseller magazine, social media and blogs and discuss together what we think are big issues that are affecting the industry. We like to deliver a mix of career advice, insights into different genres and job roles, and developments that are changing publishing such as open access and blogging. Between us, we quite often we have existing contacts who would be good speakers, or we reach out to people at companies that match the event we are hosting.

4- On an unrelated topic, what are you reading at the moment?

AG: I have just finished reading All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It's heartbreaking but a really open and moving look at grief and mental illness - I would definitely recommend it.

JB: That's a good question. I can't decide between I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh and The Book Of You by Claire Kendal. Both are psychological thrillers. Of course, I'll need to read them quickly so I can also get started on I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith for the SYP Oxford Book Club in November!

5- What do you prefer: tablet or paper?  

AG: Paper. Always. And the more battered the better.

JB: Paper! So much beautiful literature has been created by putting pen to paper, and I still get a small thrill at opening a new book, slightly creasing the spine and delving through the pages.