5 Minute Interview with James Woollam

5 Minute Interview with James Woollam

James Woollam is Managing Director at F+W International, publishers of Writer’s Digest and Chair of the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG). After an early career at Saatchi & Saatchi London, James joined F+W where he has led the business through a period of significant change in the publishing industry and in the approach to book sales and marketing. James is an advocate of digital marketing and new routes to market through print on demand and online business. Having predominantly published into niche categories, James has seen first-hand the opportunities for commercial success driven by great books and marketing reach. In his role as Chair of the IPG, James provides support and guidance to an organisation that serves small to medium publishers with training and events across the many different areas of the publishing business.


What’s next on your reading list?

I’m just about to start “Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation….” which I’ll read on my kindle.


What TV series are you obsessing over right now?

You mean now that Love Island has finished?

I travel quite a bit so I’m working my way through The Walking Dead. At home we’re saving the new Game of Thrones series for later in the year – winter is coming after all.


What do you like about your job?

That I’m constantly immersed in a world of talent, creativity and ideas. Talent in terms of the team at F+W and our authors and the designers we work with. Creativity in the content we create and then the many ideas we have to serve our customers and build the business.


What is the single biggest challenge facing the publishing industry right now?

I think I’d say complacency. We had a period of time where there were significant industry change and innovation in business models, with new ideas emerging. It feels as if the pace of that has slowed but from what I see, the shift in media habits and shopping behaviour is as real now as it has ever been.


What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in publishing today?

Hustle. Be bold and brave, get out there in front of people and make connections. Follow-up meetings and use social media to track the industry and people in the industry.


Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure.

Not sure about guilty pleasure but we live near in Devon near a great summer festival, Beautiful Days. It tends to have a lot of bands play that I grew up with but the thing I’ve really enjoyed is some of the folk bands that play. Not something I was very into before.


What was your first job?

One of my first jobs was to sell vacuum cleaners door to door in North Wales. I just remember turning up at house after house in a rusty old Ford Fiesta and trying to convince people to buy this machine that cost £1,200. You could buy it on finance and I remember the close of the sale: “Just £1 a day isn’t much to spend for a clean house…”


What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?

A Lego Chief minifigure. I’m an Exeter Chiefs rugby fan.


Tell us about a passion you have outside the business.

My wife bought me a wood fired oven cookery day a couple of years ago and I’m now the proud owner of a pizza oven. I’m no great chef but it it’s great to have friends round and burn cook pizza. The kids love getting involved in it all too.


What piece of advice would you give first-timers at the Fair?

Plan ahead and follow-up really well. What you do before and after the Fair is as important as what you do at the fair. Fill up your day with appointments, target the people you need to see and then be really great at follow-up.


James will be opening The Writer’s Summit this November, go to our website to view the full programme

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