One Year Working from Home: Publishing Edition

So, as of the 16th of March it’s officially been one whole year of working from home for me. Oxford University Press actually shut a whole week earlier than the country, we only really expected to be out of the office for a couple of weeks at most, and I haven’t been back to the office since. I then, rather quickly after that, moved back home to Wales and my parents rather than continuing to pay my exorbitant Oxford rent. I got incredibly lucky that my flatmate and I were already planning a move, and so had decided not to renew our lease, but this pandemic has certainly taught me the value of negotiating a break clause! The move home has definitely had its pros and cons, but I’ve surprised myself with the fact that I’m in no real rush to return to Oxford and my commute.

I don’t know if it’s been the same for you but work from home has been a revolutionary experience. It’s highlighted the chasm between entry-level and the upper echelons of publishing in London, but has also opened the industry up to hiring candidates that don’t want to make the overpriced south-east their home. I’m hoping to make the situation a little more permanent post-pandemic, I love the Oxford office and the ducks but not its impact on my wallet and I have very little interest in returning to a house share, so I’m hoping to remote work with just one or two days in the office when we eventually return. Will getting up at 5am to catch a train to work suck? Yes, but it’ll still be cheaper than returning to Oxford full-time and I’ll actually be able to afford my own home some day.

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Prioritising in a Publishing: Trade, Impact, and Monograph

Working in publishing can feel a little like spinning plates. You’re madly dashing from plate to plate trying to keep them all in the air with some plates needing more attention than others, and learning which plates need that extra tlc is a very important part of the job.

I’m going to be making this post into two parts, due to the fact that the length is getting rather out of hand. We’ll use this first one to explain how publishing helps me decide what to prioritise using examples from the wonderful Oxford University Press, who publish around 6000 titles a year across Academic, Education, and English Language Teaching. This means that as marketers we have to know where to put our money and which audiences to target when we spend it, and how to correctly harness the free channels that we use to get our books seen by the right audience. With academic publishing your looking at a much smaller marketing budget, or no budget at all for some books so harnessing organic social media reach and email is vital.

Fortunately, in Academic at least, they’ll tell you which books you should be spending time on and pushing to your audience. These classifications have names, Trade, Impact, and Monograph, and we use them to explain what market we’re aiming for when we’re marketing the book e.g. monographs are usually bought by libraries and researchers rather than the general consumer. I’m going to try my best to explain how we use these classifications in my department, and give you just a few examples of each book to shed a little light on academic marketing.

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Making a Sideways Move: Publishing Edition

Hello, welcome back to a publishing post written by me! Today we’re going to talk about sideways moves and why they’re not always a bad thing. This topic has been on my mind for a little while, as I recently made a sideways move of my own into a new team within the academic department at OUP. It wasn’t really a willing move, due to a company restructure, but as a person who was leaving their old role due to feeling stagnant and unable to grow it was welcome news.

I was going to make this post about the differences between my old role and my new one, and I’ll still be doing that, but I wanted to first touch on why this isn’t always a bad career move. A Sideways move definitely doesn’t come with as much kudos as a promotion, I didn’t get to make a cute Twitter bio change to tell the world, but what I did do was make a positive change that is definitely going to benefit my career. So here’s why I think my sideways career move was one of the best decisions for me, and hopefully, it’ll give you some food for thought when considering your own career path.

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Academic Marketing Assistant: What do I actually do?

So a similar-sounding post to this one should have come out for #workinpublishing week, but I got the sudden urge to overhaul the concept. I’d planned out a week in the life post, talking about what I’d do in a normal week, and quickly realised that my workload varies so much that the whole post didn’t really work. So instead I’ve decided to lay it all out for you in the form of a big ol’ list. Everyone likes lists…right?

So the role of a marketing assistant definitely comes with a whole load of admin! It’s not the most fun or the most fascinating work, but it is the most important. This list here is my weekly reoccurring tasks that keep the department moving:

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My First Month in Publishing.

I really want to keep you updated when it comes to my life in publishing! Whether it’s talking about how much I love it, or the fact that this job is driving me up the wall I want to talk about it. So to do that I’m going to be bringing you some updates as I settle into my marketing assistant role, and hopefully, give you guys an insight into an entry-level role in this industry.

So far it’s been pretty great over here in Oxford. They’ve been easing me into the role gently, and it’s been rather lovely considering my previous jobs all threw you right into the action. I’ll admit I do find the gentle approach harder, I like to be busy at work, but I know I should savour this moment because the pace is definitely going to pick up.
The first week ended up feeling a little intense though because my introverted butt had to meet so many new people, it was a whirlwind of introductions and a little overwhelming but everyone was so kind to me.

One of the things I’ve realised since starting is publishing has way too many different programs, or at least OUP does. I have so many different passwords that I have to keep them written in my diary, and everything works differently so I have to remember so many shortcuts too! It’s been fun trying to figure everything out,  whether it’s using a program like Star to make changes to the website, or Percolate for all of our different social media channels; everything’s new and it’s been a fun challenge that I still haven’t mastered.

There are also a few things that I picked up from work experience that have definitely been useful. My ability to find the contact details for any journal definitely came in handy here, as OUP are making some big changes at the moment.  I’ve also loved being able to talk about publishing all the time, it feels so fantastic to finally be working in the industry that I love!

I wanted to add in some goals to work towards over the next five or so months, so here they are:

  • Attend a Society of Young Publishers event! I really wanted to make it to one before I entered the industry, but something always seemed to clash. I now live so much closer to London, so here’s hoping I actually manage to meet some more industry friends.
  • I want to have a better grasp on most of the publishing programs I need to be using. I’d be pretty surprised if this one didn’t happen, but I want to be confident in my role and the jobs that go with it.
  • Meet more people outside of my department. I want to be attending more events, and maybe join a club or two so I can actually meet humans outside of the Academic department. I don’t know anyone in Oxford so I feel like this is a pretty important step for me, and I need to push myself out of my comfort zone a little bit!

These are some pretty simple goals, but I think work is going to be pretty slow for the time being. It’s been a very gentle introduction to the industry, and that has definitely been good for my health.