Interface’s Lorna Watson has been supporting self-published author and innovator Alexander McCabe in the development of his book and snowglobe,The Christmas Present. We asked him a few questions about the impact academic input had had on his successful literary endeavours and why calling Interface could lead to exciting places for any business.
Q1. What new developments have taken place with your business since we last featured you in a blog in late 2017?
Thank you so much for the follow up and I’m absolutely bursting with excitement to tell you of the latest developments!
Since last we spoke - and as a direct result of the Marketing Works project with Interface and the University of Strathclyde - in 2018 I embarked on a 40+ date book signing tour of Scotland with WHSmith, which was so successful that I’ve been invited back and we’re expanded the tour this year to include some of the flagship stores in England.
As you can imagine, this is all hugely exciting!
Thanks to the Make it to Market grant, The Christmas Present has been translated into French, Spanish and Italian and each of these has been an international bestseller in its own right, which is absolutely amazing.
This year we have seven of the Top 10 “Mummy Bloggers” reviewing, promoting and hosting competition giveaways to help elevate the profile of the book and Gift Box Set.
Love Reading is the UK’s leading book recommendation website and they absolutely loved the book and Gift Box Set and so they have also agreed to hosting a competition giveaway this year as well as the review on their website.
Each year, The Christmas Present seems to just grow and grow as more and more readers get to know about it and this is hugely rewarding personally and, professionally, it bodes well for the future of the business.
Q2. What collaborative projects have you done since then with universities/a university?
The Marketing Works project with the University of Strathclyde was so successful that we’ve already sent out the call and both the University of Strathclyde and the University of Dundee have agreed to another two projects each, starting in the new year.
This is excellent for us as we’re able to build upon, develop and evolve these existing relationships with the academics and allows those students involved in the projects, practical and academic experience, so these projects are absolutely brilliant for all concerned.
Q3. Tell us about the book tour – where can people catch it?
That’s absolutely awesome of you to ask – thank you so much! – and it starts on the 22 November in WHSmith, Oban, and it runs every day until Christmas Eve in Elgin.
Full details can be found on the website: https://www.gabrieltheelf.com/events
Q4. How did early interaction with academics which Interface helped facilitate benefit The Christmas Present further down the line ie the direction you took after those initial conversations?
Bizarrely, there was actually some great advice on what we shouldn’t be doing as much as there was advice and guidance on what we could be doing! For example, we thought of adapting the illustrations into electronic jigsaws for kids and also an app for the phone, but one chat with an academic at the University of Stirling quickly discounted these possibilities. The Christmas Present is, by its very nature, a seasonal product and, as such, the academic and research assistant highlighted that our app would be the first deleted in the new year as nobody wants a Christmas related app or game on their phone for the majority of the year.
Obviously, having no profit driver, this advice was given openly and honestly and I greatly appreciated that as this allowed us to refocus our limited resources into more productive and profitable avenues.
Q5 What advice would you give to other businesses thinking about working with academics, but are unsure if it is right for them?
Ask, always, ASK!
Nobody could be more unsure than working with academics than me, a self-published author chasing the dream, but every single academic that I’ve spoken with has been hugely supportive and encouraging, never once ridiculing or demeaning me or my business. Indeed, more often than not, the academics would be trying to find ways to help, develop and grow our business with their input and expertise.
I’d also stress that any initial trepidation on my part was quickly eradicated and eased by the excellent Lorna Watson, whose experience and knowledge continues to be absolutely priceless to our business as we grow, and whose enthusiasm is infectious. Developing this strong professional relationship through explaining our business and vision meant that she was able to provide input and feedback on what we could do, thereafter providing advice and guidance from project inception to conclusion.
So, to any businesses thinking about working with academia but still unsure, call on your Interface contact and discuss your options. In my experience, every single member of the Interface team has been absolutely brilliant on both a professional and personal level and so asking for the advice and guidance could be one of the best phone calls you ever make – I can tell you honestly, it was for me!
Interested in accessing academic support? Please contact us.