In Conversation with Divia Kainth
Posted in Neem Tree Blog on June 25, 2021
Divia Kainth is Head of Sales and Marketing at independent children’s publisher, Sweet Cherry Publishing. The company recently took home the Small Press of the Year 2021 prize at the British Book Awards. Divia began at Sweet Cherry as an intern in 2018 after graduating from Oxford Brookes University and has gone on to make a huge impact on the company. Divia went from joining as a Sales and Rights Assistant, to Publicity Executive, to Head of Sales and Marketing over the course of just three years. The company was founded by Abdul Kadir Thadha and prides itself on its Leicester heritage. The team are deeply involved with their local community, working hard to promote reading to a young audience. They are also working hard to promote diversity in children’s literature and within the publishing industry and in this they view their location as a huge advantage. “Being based in Leicester we have only diverse candidates to choose from and we recruit without prejudice…We do not need to fit into a demographic or diversity agenda because we are inherently and organically diverse. Authentically so.”
Tell us a bit about yourself, and what drew you to publishing?
I was born and raised in Leicester and have loved reading books ever since my childhood. My mum would take my sisters and me on a walk to our local library every weekend and I’d always leave with two or three books. As I grew up, my love for reading turned from a space for imagination to a means of escaping the woes of teenage life – especially A-Level Chemistry! Reading books taught me a lot of life lessons outside of the classroom, but what I didn’t really know then was that there’s a whole world behind making books besides writing or editing them. When it came to making university choices, I fell in love with the campus and Publishing Media course at Oxford Brookes during an Open Day and after that, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. It was somewhere I could combine my entrepreneurial skills with my passion for books – and suddenly everything fell into place!
You started working in the industry from a young age, what would you say are some of the most important lessons you’ve learnt during your time at Sweet Cherry Publishing?
The most important thing I’ve learnt in a busy and fast-paced environment like publishing is to never lose sight of your passion. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by a hectic schedule or aching feet at a book fair so sometimes I take a minute to remind myself that I’m here because I’m a reader and a book lover, first and foremost.
As the Head of Sales and Marketing at Sweet Cherry, what do you feel are some of the key aspects of a successful marketing campaign for a book?
The key aspect to a successful campaign is to really know the audience. At a small indie publisher, time and resources are limited so it’s important to establish the ins and outs of your target reader and/or who has the spending power.
What are some of your favourite books you’ve worked on at Sweet Cherry, and are there any upcoming projects you’re particularly excited about?
My favourite campaign was the 2019 launch for Gill Stewart’s contemporary teen book, Lily’s Just Fine. We took it to YALC in the summer and it was great to be surrounded by a community of fellow YA book lovers. Oh, and celeb-spotting at YALC was a bonus!
More recently, my favourite publicity campaign has been the launch of Lauren Hoffmeier’s yoga-themed picture book, Mula and the Fly. Lauren is a children’s yoga teacher based in NYC and brings so much energy, passion and enthusiasm to her book launch. We secured coverage in a wide range of yoga and mindfulness publications, including YOGA Magazine, as well as a children’s event in New Jersey and some fun YouTube videos of brand new yoga moves inspired by the characters.
Do you have any advice for people aspiring to work in the publishing industry?
We’re all book lovers but it’s important to have commercial awareness, too. Visit bookshops, browse charts and keep an eye on what’s happening on social media. Also, don’t let internship rejections get you down. There are plenty of ways to gain experience without working in a publishing house – tutor English, volunteer at a charity bookshop or offer your services to a self-published author. You’re guaranteed to have something different to talk about during an interview if you think outside of the box.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with Neem Tree Press, Divia!