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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Work in Publishing Week: My Favourite Posts

Hello! So I managed to read some and watch some of the absolutely fabulous content that appeared this Work in Publishing Week, and I really wanted to have somewhere to store these helpful posts. Obviously I’d like to shout out the Publishers Association who shared so many interesting things, but also The Publishing Post whose newsletter has become an entry level essential read.

As Always before we get to everyone else’s fabulous posts, here’s some links to mine:

Work Experience Diaries:
Inside Story | Vintage | Seren | University Wales Press 
First Month Publishing Update | Three Month Publishing Update
Six Month Publishing Update | One Year Publishing Update 
When to Quit: Publishing Update | Two Years in Publishing 
Publishing Editions: 
Publishing Skills | Dealing with Rejection
Remote Interviews | SYP Podcast ft. Me | Making a Sideways Move
Imposter Syndrome | Q&A video with Me

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Impostor Syndrome: Publishing Edition

I’ve been struggling to put this post into words, I think because it explores me personally rather than the industry, so I can’t quite get the words out. I’m not so good at getting personal, especially when it comes to mental health, but I feel like this is a rather common experience for people both in and out of the industry.

People don’t say it enough, but I think getting into publishing is a combination of skill and luck. Your CV, your interview, and your experience definitely outweigh the luck factor, but it would be foolish to say that it doesn’t exist. There’s a whole lot of “right fit for the team” in this industry, and I’ve been rejected from roles with this sentence. That sentence is where I think the luck factor comes in, right hiring manager, right time so to speak, and I often wonder if it was a different set of managers would I have been hired.

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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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Remote Interviews: Publishing Edition

I’ve tackled quite a few remote interviews in my time and they can feel pretty strange, an interview can be nerve-wracking enough without having to rely on technology. Interviews through a computer screen are the new normal for most of us, and before COVID I had only tackled one myself for the role I currently work in. It was a weird experience, our camera’s both cut out about ten minutes in and we we’re both stuck talking to a black computer screen. It’s worth mentioning that for quite a few hiring managers this is new too, and most of my interviews have opened with a conversation about how strange it is to not be meeting face to face!

My hope with this post is not to give you tips to help you land that sweet new role, as there are definitely people doing that better than I ever could, but instead I’m going to tell you how I prep for an interview with a camera instead of a human.

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Two Years in Publishing

So if you’ve followed along with these publishing posts about my little career journey you’ll know that I posted one called When to Quit two months ago, it was a difficult but important update, and I don’t normally do this but you should consider reading it before this one. It’s been an undeniably weird time and my plans were all but crushed because of it, but I was incredibly lucky that the ability to work from home wildly changed my circumstances and allowed me to stick around.

This does mean that I’ve given up my flat in Oxford, and am currently living and working back in Wales which has been a little strange! But I wanted to throw together some cute pictures of a few of my adventures in Oxford:

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Put Salaries on Your Job Ads: An Angry Letter.

Are you a publisher, then I have a question, why the heck are we still advertising jobs without salaries? What do you truly gain from writing competitive instead? I genuinely want to know.

Not advertising a salary is so, so, limiting for candidates. I need to know how much money I’ll be making to live, to decide whether a job is worth picking my whole life up and moving for, and I want to know it before I’ve invested time and money interviewing for you. Traveling for an interview is expensive, prepping for an interview is time-intensive, but I’m expected to take a punt on a job that can’t even tell me something so essential.

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Dealing With Rejection: Publishing Edition

Getting that first big break into the industry can feel a lot like climbing Mount Everest, it’s harsh, cold, and if I’m honest kind of isolating. It took me a year to get my Marketing Assistant role at Oxford University Press, after doggedly pursuing a role in trade unsuccessfully, and the relief and excitement I felt when I got the role was immense. Finally it was over, no more spending hours crafting the perfect cover letter with no response from publishers, the door had cracked open for me and I’d slipped through.

This post is partially influenced by this thread on twitter in which, if you don’t fancy clicking on the link, Linked In revealed the amount of “applications” for this Editorial role at Penguin Random House. People reacted really strongly to the thread, and honestly it was shocking to see that nearly 1500 applicants had applied. It’s worth mentioning that this likely reflects the amount of people who have clicked the link and not the amount of applicants, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that there would be at least 500 applications for one job. It’s horrible to see numbers when it comes to applications and it’s definitely unnecessary information that can make you feel like crap, but I still think it’s an important to acknowledge it. If you are applying for a role in publishing, especially in editorial, you’ll always be competing. This role, at Cornerstone, is a dream role for many people and so when applying for one of the big five you should expect competition to be stiff. It’s like applying to Vogue, Nintendo, or Disney, the jobs are always going to be popular and oversubscribed so it’s often perseverance that makes the difference here.

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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.

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