Working in Audio with Katalina Watt

BlogCareers in Publishing

Katalina Watt is an Audio and Online Assistant at Canongate Books, with previous roles in Audio for Little, Brown Book Group and across copywriting, bookselling, and events for independent bookshops. She studied English Literature at The University of Glasgow and obtained an MSc in Publishing from Edinburgh Napier University. She is also an author, Longlisted for Penguin Random House UK’s 2020 WriteNow programme.

For Love Audio Week 2020, we asked Katalina some questions about her career in audio publishing and what makes audiobooks unique.

What do you do?

Currently I’m an Audio and Online Assistant at Canongate Books, working across our audiobook and e-book list co-ordinating audiobook production and managing key accounts for both audiobook and e-book retailers.

I’m also Podcast Director with khōréō, a new quarterly speculative fiction magazine elevating the voices of immigrant and diaspora authors, and I’m an author and event moderator and panellist.

How did you get into audiobook publishing?

My first role in Audio was with Little, Brown Book Group through Creative Access. This was an invaluable experience because I was given support throughout the recruitment process and throughout my time with Hachette through mentorship and networking opportunities, not only within the company but within the wider publishing industry. My role was fairly new for the team and they were onboarding new systems and processes, as well as rapidly expanding the audio list, so it was a great way to dive in. The Audio department worked interdepartmentally and across divisions, so it was also a useful way to gain an insight into the holistic and symbiotic nature of the workflow.

What skills have helped you within your role?

Dynamic and reactive problem-solving

A willingness to learn and improve systems and processes, as well as being able to be reactive to changes and think creatively and critically to overcome challenges.

Understanding the market

My bookselling experience has been vital in my role in Sales. Understanding commercial viability, consumer behaviour, and trends and data are essential for making informed decisions that will do best by your list. Keep a finger on the pulse by reading industry news and understand what’s selling and why.

Organisation and time-management

It’s crucial with project management to be able to prioritise your workload. As I work across both audio and e-book, and with various internal and external partners, keeping on top of every project requires strong organisational skills!

What makes audio publishing different?

Audio editorial work is exciting and creative because it’s adapting to a different medium, and we collaborate with fantastic studios and narrators. It’s essential to understand the specific needs of each book, as well as the challenges and opportunities afforded to the audio format. Audio publishing is an evolving area of the industry and I’m keen to see how tech advancements can be implemented into publishing to make this industry more radical and innovative.

Why do you #LoveAudio?

I love audio because the right narrator can bring the story to life and immerse you in the pages. Good audiobook performances remind me of the feeling of live performance, such as the theatre and I’m always intrigued by the ways in which audio pushes the boundaries. Being able to listen to audio while doing something else is a joy for the TBR list but also makes mundane tasks seem a bit more appealing!

And, finally, what are your top three audiobooks?

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A wonderfully innovative use of the audio format as the story is about a fictional 1970s rock band and is compiled of interviews and uses music.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

A powerful and affirming book, handled with care and grace, and hearing it in the author’s own words was absolutely right for this.

Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold

An audio-first publication which is now forthcoming in other formats, this is an anthology of reimagined folktales read by a stunning line-up of authors who tap into the oral storytelling tradition.

Love Audio Week

#LoveAudio returns for a fourth year and will run from Monday 21 to Friday 25 September 2020.

The week-long digital celebration of audiobooks is designed to showcase the accessibility, innovation and creativity of the format. Audio Publishers across the UK join forces to raise the profile of audiobook publishing amongst the publishing industry, early career professionals, and jobseekers.

Details of this years campaign can be found here.