5 minutes with James Spackman

5 minutes with James Spackman

James Spackman is a freelance publisher and consultant. He is currently working with Profile Books to set up Pursuit, a new cycling imprint. Alongside this, his freelance activities include marketing, presentation and strategy.
A regular speaker at publishing conferences, he has given influential talks on trade marketing, cover copy and Reader Experience among other topics.

He started in publishing at Bloomsbury, before moving on to John Murray, Hodder and Osprey Group. His career has involved sales, marketing, management and, most recently, editorial.

He can be found on Twitter @Blackpooltower

What was the last book you read?
Songs They Never Play on the Radio by James Young. His Withnail-esque account of playing in Nico’s last touring band. Loved it.

How did you buy it?
Stupidly. I’d had an unread copy on the shelf since it was published in ’92 then gave it to a charity shop in a big clear-out. Two weeks later, it was recommended to me so forcefully that I had to buy it again on Kindle.

What’s next on your reading list?
Greg LeMond: Yellow Jersey Racer by Guy Andrews

You’re stranded on a desert island – what three books would you want with you?
The Name of the Rose; Watching the English; I Want My Hat Back.

What is the one thing about your work that we need to know?
I teach a course called Pitch Doctor, which helps people in publishing present books better. Even if they hate presenting. Especially if they hate presenting, in fact. It’s a positive, supportive and enjoyable workshop, I am told.

What is the single biggest challenge facing the publishing industry right now?
Competition from other forms of entertainment. Boring but true.

What is the one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in publishing today?
Make sure you don’t isolate yourself in one specialism. Understanding all aspects of the business will make you a better publisher and a better colleague.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure.
I have a great weakness for Sibelius’s tone poems. (Not really—it’s The Sugababes).

What was your first job?
Saturday assistant, Sherratt & Hughes Croydon. Loved it, bought my first hardback novel on staff discount (The Buddha of Suburbia, since you ask) and never looked back. Nearly got sacked for idly stapling all the Booker Prize bookmarks into a massive whale sculpture one Thursday late opening on the till…

And your first in the book industry?
First publishing job was Postroom Boy at Bloomsbury. I stapled very well, I’m told.

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