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Industry Insight: Q&A Alison Barrow (Transworld)

By Liz Robinson on 6th August 2018

Alison Barrow is responsible for PR at Transworld Publishers, she can be found on twitter as @alisonbarrow. In the previous Industry Insight blog, Karen from Orenda Books mentioned Alison as one of her book world inspirations. Read on to find out more about Allison's role. 

Tell us about your role in the book world.

I’m PR Director at Transworld Publishers, part of Penguin Random House. That means I get to work with inspiring, smart and enormously entertaining writers, finding routes to securing book sales and readers through media, events, ambassadors and partnerships. It’s the best job in the industry. 

What three words best sum up your job?

Uplifting,  collaborative, connecting. 

Which fictional character or person from history would you love to read a book by (why is that?) and what type of book do you think it would be?

Emily Brontë’s dog,  Keeper.  He could tell some wild and some quiet stories about those sisters and brother. He was there for much of it. 

Who are your book world inspirations?

I work with the best team in the industry. Also I’m in awe of the hard work, passion and dedication of so many book PRs. In another life I’d wish to be more like Camilla Elworthy and Emma Bravo at Pan Macmillan, Georgina Moore at Headline, Charlotte Bush at Cornerstone. They are never less than generous in their advice and support. Many, many others too.

I’ve had the privilege to introduce many talented people to the publishing industry and to watch them bring so much creativity and energy to writers and books. Their work stretches my head every day. 

Other publishing supremos whose work I love are agents Lizzy Kremer at David Higham,  Jonny Geller and Felicity Blunt at Curtis Brown, Clare Conville, Jo Unwin. David Headley and Daniel Gedeon at Goldsboro are unequalled in their dedication. Oh, and Katie Brown at Orion is brilliant in her pioneering work on inclusivity. 

I am unfailingly buoyed by the professional commitment and human kindness  shown by independent booksellers around the country. I don’t know how they find the resources to do what they do. They uplift lives.  

And of course so many writers with whom I’ve travelled. They change lives. 

Describe your favourite place to read. 

In my garden, on my bench. Summer and Winter. 

What’s your favourite book from childhood, how did it make you feel?

Charlotte’s Web by E B White. First book ever to make me cry. The final lines of the novel just say everything:  

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

Hbk, pbk, ebook?

Paperback for reading,  hardback for dipping into and looking beautiful on shelves and tables. No to ebook. I like turning pages too much. 

Any strange book habits?

Is this strange? Picking up hardback books in shops stroking them. Sensing the smell rise up as the pages are turned. I think lots of people do it, don’t they? 

Fun book fact?

I am dazzled by the work at Mills & Boon to reinvigorate and reimagine their business to make it  enduringly relevant. It amuses me at the same time to learn that the M6 toll road was built on two and a half million copies of pulped Mills & Boon novels. 

Thank you Alison for taking the time to answer my questions, I adore your answers, and yes I stroke, and also smell books too!

Click here to read more of our Industry Insights.

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