Welcome to the third in an occasional series of posts where we turn the floor over to our partners and pals in publishing to talk about what they do, to help our customers learn more about them. This week, it’s the turn of Founder and Director of Byte The Book, Justine Solomons.

Hi Justine, please can you introduce yourself

Hey Simon, great to be here. We love having you as a partner and it’s exciting to be a guest on your site. As you know my background isn’t publishing. I worked for Softwire, a bespoke development house, for nine years running their business development team. While I was there I did several novel writing courses at City University. While doing their Novel Studio course I saw that everyone wanted to meet agents and get published, and I started to get the idea of Byte The Book. In 2011 I quit my job at Softwire, did some consulting for a publishing client of mine from Softwire, YUDU,  and saw that the industry wanted to know about tech, the perfect hook to get them to meet my authors at the events I planned to run.  I learned that authors didn’t earn much from their writing but had great skills to offer others and so with those things in mind I started to build our network. 

Tell us more about Byte The Book?

Byte The Book is about making creative connections and helping our members navigate the contemporary publishing world together. We have around 450 members and over 5,000 subscribers. 

We want to break down the hierarchies in publishing and aim to approach all we do with generosity, imagination, warmth, iconoclasm and quirkiness. 

We run events both live and online, with formats including panel discussions, agent tables (where authors have their work read and commented on by agents), networking parties, workshops and adventures.

Member benefits include free or reduced entrance to our events and training sessions, free book fair tickets (which has included London Book Fair, Book Expo America, Frankfurt Book Fair and Bologna Book Fair), discounts for partner organisations such at The Bookseller Magazine (50% for author members), and marketing through our newsletter and social media channels.

We offer consultancy, specialising in professional introductions, business development, industry advice, product development and content acquisition. 

We also offer services to authors such as Author Anchoring, editing and key introductions to agents, publishers and industry experts.

Any interesting tech solutions for publishers or authors?

  • Prisma Text are great helping you learn a new language while reading your favourite books
  • I’m interested to see what Book Volts and the like are going to do with NFTs for books

  • Personally I’m love using Jamboard to help me plan the memoir I’m currently writing about cold water swimming, Swimmoir

Is now a good time for authors to get published?

Absolutely. The industry is trying its utmost to be more accessible to new previously unheard voices with lots of schemes to find BAME and under-represented authors such as those from LGBTQ or low incomes.  We offer free tickets to those groups to our events such as Agent Tables

There are so many options available.  As well as the traditional ways of publishing,  new models are emerging like e first and split revenue. Organisations like Indie Novella who are publishing collectively, Unbound and Kickstarter to help you raise funds from your networks. There are also brilliant people in our network and across the industry that can help you publish independently. You can see some of our people in our Directory but also check out Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn, Orna Ross who runs ALLi and Mark Stay and The Bestseller Experiment. 

What are your top networking tips for anyone new to industry?

  • Be confident and believe in yourself, whatever your experience or where you are in your career. Publishers and agents aren’t gods, they all need authors and new people with ideas.  
  • See what you can do to help others, for example the author Andrew Blackman put out a list of writing prizes.  
  • Get engaged, join networks like Byte The Book.
  • Go to events like author readings, etc.
  • Get on socials and build your platform. Be engaged and interesting.  Your first tweet shouldn’t be, “buy my book” or “give me a job!”
  • It’s a lovely industry but small, people talk to each other so be a good generous person and be professional. Writing can be in the heart, but getting published or working in publishing is about sane business practice. Don’t be an annoying author or publishing wannabe.

How can people get involved in Byte The Book? 

You join us via our website. Membership is  £20 a month or £220 a year.  We’re also running a scheme at the moment so that if a member introduces another person into the network we give the existing member a £20 voucher to be used against their membership or paying events. You can find out about membership here. You can give the gift of membership here. Company and affiliate memberships are also available, do drop us a line at [email protected] for more information about that. 

You can sign up to our free newsletter on our glorious website built by the brilliant Bookswarm. Follow us on Twitter @bytethebook and on Instagram @bytethebook or Facebook via facebook.com/ByteTheBook/. Or get in touch with me with any questions via [email protected]