When to Quit: A Publishing Update

I started writing this publishing update back in November when I made the decision that I would be leaving my job and Oxford with it. I had to decide whether or not to renew my tenancy, and with the minimal career prospects available to me at the time, I made the choice to search for something new in a different city. This Friday (3rd of July) was actually supposed to be my leaving date, and this is after my company very kindly extended my notice so I could work another three months.

I think it’s important to acknowledge all my experiences within this industry, and I didn’t want to gloss over this particularly bad period. This was not a fun time for me and the choice I made was not an easy one, but I wanted you to know that I made it. This situation has taught me that my highest priority should always be my own health and happiness, even if that means giving up on one of my dreams.

Obviously, a lot has changed since I made this hard choice back in November, and I’m not ashamed to admit that due to COVID and the job market I have withdrawn my notice. I’ll be working in publishing for a little while longer at least, and due to changes at the company, it’ll likely be in a different role. Work from home has allowed me to continue to work in an industry that I love, and I really hope that it is something more publishers will offer their employees. I’ll touch on that more in my two-year update in a couple of months, but I wanted to use this post to talk about why I made the choice to leave a job I had worked so hard for two years to get.

Career Progression

Academic publishing, like Trade, has a big issue with career progression and an even bigger issue if you want to be promoted within your team. Moving around is part and parcel of the industry, and if you want to move up quickly this is what you have to do. I know people that have had meteoric rises up through the ranks, but I also know people who have sat in a job for years and years without a promotion.

I made a promise to myself that when an executive role came up in my team, that if I didn’t get it I would have to take a long hard look at my future career in publishing. So at the end of October, after an absolutely horrendous interview with my manager, I decided that it was time for me to move on to something new. Initially, I was looking only at roles in the industry, but knowing that I couldn’t afford London really hampered my ability to find a new role that I was interested in. So I moved onto Bristol, a city that I know and one that a lot of my closest friends call home, but this meant I had to think seriously about broadening my horizons.

The Salary prospects within my own company were also an issue for me. I would be lucky to get a £2000 salary increase at my current company, and would likely have to negotiate to get that much. I realised pretty quickly that I was going to have to move companies to continue to afford Oxford, and once I was open to other companies staying in Oxford just didn’t make sense.

The Job

If you’ve read my My First Year in Publishing update those first few paragraphs really explain how I was feeling in my role. I was still passionate but the admin was wearing me down, and any marketing opportunities I had gotten I’d fought for. I really felt that the situation was getting better, and promises of interesting projects to come kept me engaged. Then people started to leave, and instead of the assistants getting more interesting opportunities, the work dried up. I felt useless. I watched my friends who were executives or above experience an incredible amount of stress while I sat on my hands. I had so many conversations about how I felt, about the Trello board and how it was limiting the help we could give, and how they weren’t giving us the experience we needed to progress even within the company.

I reached breaking point at the end of March and handed in my notice in April with no job to go to afterwards. Then COVID happened and they were forced to pass over work, suddenly I was working on newsletters, campaigns, and taking responsibility for my own workload. This is one of the reasons I withdrew my notice, my job has genuinely gotten more interesting since we’ve all moved to work from home.

The team and both my managers are absolutely wonderful by the way, and they were the main reason I stuck around. Almost everyone I have been fortunate enough to know has been kind and understanding; I’ll repeat it over and over again, but the people in publishing are the best part.

Financial Pressure

This right here is the main reason I was planning on leaving my job in Oxford. The cost of living in that city is very similar to London, and it was a fact I wasn’t really aware of when I moved there. It cost me nearly £2000 just to move up there, and then within six months, I had to move again due to a rather horrific housemate.

Every conversation I had with my parents ended up being about money, and anytime I stepped outside my budget I had to tighten my belt somewhere else. I at one point considered getting a morning job to supplement my income, but I felt the amount of tax I would pay and the knock to my quality of life made this move impossible. It was a moment though that made me take stock of my situation, and I knew it was time to really take a long hard look at my situation.

It wasn’t particularly nice for me to admit that this was my main reason for leaving the company. I have never thought of myself as a money-driven, I don’t think I would have pursued the industry if I was, but the job didn’t negate the damage to my mental health.

You might be wondering after reading that ramble why exactly am I staying?

COVID has brought many, many bad things into my life, but remote working isn’t one of them. It’s not only changed the way I work but it has transformed my financial situation. I have real hope that my current publishing house will continue to allow me to remote work, which removes the immense financial pressure I was feeling. I’ve also been allowed to take on more responsibility in the past few months, and really stretch my marketing legs, plus changes at the company are also going to (finally) allow me to progress and/or try something new! This combined with the opportunity to live and work in Wales 90% of the time pulled me back in.

This has been an incredibly strange, and changeable period of my life. I didn’t want it to pass on by without me commenting on it, and for me to move on without highlighting some of the issues I’ve faced wouldn’t sit well with me.

Sorry if this ended up being rather whiny! Speak to you all again soon ❤

12 thoughts on “When to Quit: A Publishing Update

  1. ive been really enjoying following this series, btu also with how honest youve been about your time. im glad to hear that you were able to get something from covid time, heres to acontinued improvement for you hey? ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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