Words & Pictures' roving reporter Sarah Broadley talks to Liz Scott about publishing, promotion and connections in the north 

Your first role after graduating from University was at Phaidon Press, and then on to Usborne Publishing before becoming a freelance publicist. With over 20 years experience in the industry, do you think publishing has remained the same or do you think it is evolving all the time?

It has changed in so many ways. When I started out I absolutely felt as though the only way to get a foothold in publishing was to move to London (I’m from Yorkshire). I was privileged enough that I was able to do that, initially moving from Waterstones in Bradford to Waterstones High Street Kensington before getting my first job at Phaidon Press. That is absolutely changing, with publishers seeing the benefits of regional diversity and reaching outside the London bubble not only in terms of the authors and illustrators they work with, but also in the work force. 

In some ways, the pandemic has contributed to this as more publishers have seen that it is no longer essential to physically be in London. There have been regional indie publishers producing amazing books for years, and now we’re seeing more publishers opening regional offices and being more flexible in their approach. I’m a co-founder of Children’s Books North, a network for authors, illustrators and publishing professionals living in the North of England and Scotland – we support and promote the work of our members and it’s been a real joy to see the creativity in our regions.

In terms of publicity, the biggest change in my work has been with social media, which didn’t exist when I started out. But we won’t go into that too much as it just highlights how ancient I am!

Promoting new books as they go out into the world must have its ups and downs – what's your process from initial contact to publication day? Do you mainly deal with agents and publishers?

That’s a big question! I work, in the main, for children’s publishers and don’t really have direct contact with agents. Once I’m working on a campaign I’ll work closely with the author and/or illustrator, and the publisher to agree the aims and strategy for the campaign, and our main targets. I’ve specialised a lot in events, launches, bookshops and schools’ tours which, of course, changed a lot with the pandemic, but it was amazing to see the creative ways bookshops responded and still managed to promote books and get them to readers.

It’s impossible to summarise a campaign from contact to publication as there are so many variables – I work on everything from picture books to YA, sometimes with UK authors who are available for events and PR, and sometimes without the authors available, when we need to come up with other creative ways to promote the book. There are absolutely ups and downs, and that can be particularly challenging as a freelancer when you’re often working alone, but reacting to the unknown elements of a campaign is half the fun!

Logo for Children's Books North

Can you tell us a little about the origins of Children's Books North and the plans you have?

Emma Layfield, Tilda Johnson and I launched Children’s Books North (CBN) in February 2019 with an event in Manchester with 60 members. We’re a network for published children’s authors, illustrators and publishing professionals living in the North of England and Scotland. Our aims are to support and promote our members, and to champion regional diversity in children’s publishing. Our intention had always been to hold physical networking events in the North, but of course that hasn’t been possible. In fact, we’ve just held only our second in-person event – our summer social in Leeds.

That hasn’t stopped us growing the CBN membership to over 350, and hosting a wide range of events and initiatives. In 2021, CBN collaborated with Youth Libraries Group to deliver The Great Northern Meet-up – an online conference connecting children’s authors and illustrators in the North and Scotland with children’s librarians. We also launched the annual CBN Twitter Pitch event giving unagented and unpublished authors and illustrators the opportunity to pitch their work directly to agents and publishers: resulting in successful pairings, including Meg McLaren signing with agent Alice Williams Literary.

We’re currently mentoring our second cohort of aspiring publishing professionals on their route to finding work within publishing, and showing them that it doesn’t have to mean a move to London. And this summer will also bring a first festival collaboration, as Children’s Books North take over the Telling Tales stage at Just So family arts festival with events from CBN authors and illustrators.

What advice would you give to creatives looking to promote their books pre/after launch day?

One of my measures of a successful campaign is giving creatives the tools and confidence to continue with their own promotion beyond publication; the most effective campaigns are those where publicist and creative meet in the middle and work together to promote a book. My advice would be to really maximise the opportunities brought by a publicist to create your own networks. 

I recently set up a schools’ tour for an author who, at the end of the tour, contacted every school and bookshop they’d visited to send personal thanks and their school visit information. 

One of my most repeated phrases when talking about social media is ‘be generous’. It’s a joy to see authors supporting each other and their work on socials, and your support of others’ successes will mean that support comes back round. Putting time and effort into building our networks will reap rewards.

There have been many books through the door of Liz Scott PR & Marketing Ltd – what are your stand-outs this year? Any coming out soon that we should be looking out for?

There are so many – and, of course, it's really difficult to single out individual books. One of the most remarkable campaigns to work on in recent years was for Boy, Everywhere by A M Dassu, published by Ruth Huddleston at Old Barn Books. It was a special campaign for so many reasons – the quality of the writing and the important subject matter of course, but also working in such a tiny team (literally Ruth, A M Dassu and me) meant we could be really agile and react quickly to events. I loved that the campaign built from publication and took on a life of its own! 

I’ve also worked with Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre for many years and any campaign with them is a joy – they’re both extremely creative, with excellent PR brains and are up for whatever comes their way.

For the Autumn, I’m excited to be working with Guppy Books on Louisa Reid’s new stunning YA verse novel Activist coming in October – my first time working on a verse novel, and with the added joy of Louisa being in the North West, I’m very much looking forward to a bit of a Northern focus!

*Header image courtesy of Liz Scott


Liz Scott is a freelance children's books PR specialist with 20+ years experience in the publishing industry, working with children's publishers, authors, reading charities and education consultancies. Based in North West England, she is also a co-founder of Children's Books North – a network to connect published children's authors and illustrators, and publishing professionals in the north of England and Scotland.


Sarah Broadley lives in Edinburgh with her family and two cats. She is a member of SCBWI Scotland. Follow her on Twitter.


Natalie Yates is Writers' Minds editor for Words & Pictures. Follow her on Instagram. Contact: writers@britishscbwi.org.

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