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5 Great Reasons to Work in Academic Publishing

Today marks the end of Academic Book Week 2018 (#AcBookWeek), which is ‘a week-long celebration of the diversity, variety and influence of academic books aiming to open up a dialogue between the makers, providers and readers of academic books.’

Academic publishers produce and sell scholarly journals, books, eBooks, text books and reference works for researchers, students and academic libraries. We work with a lot of academic publishers on a variety of roles, from Editors to Marketing gurus to Production Controllers to Salespeople, in permanent, temporary and freelance positions. It’s an exciting and rewarding industry to be in, and here’s why:

  1. You work on cutting-edge research from top academics. The articles and books you publish will help teach new generations of students, and may even revolutionise the field. You could even publish work on sociology and politics which helps to shape public policy. If you’re looking for a rewarding career that makes a difference, academic publishing could be for you.
  2. Use your strong academic background in a related field. Your humanities or arts degree or postgraduate degree will be invaluable in an editorial role in academic publishing, so you can continue working on the subjects you love. (N.b. you do NOT need a PhD to work in academic publishing, but it is an advantage in some areas. A keen interest in the subject area is essential.)
  3. In a world of fake news and the devaluation of experts, be part of an industry which values intellectual rigour and research integrity through peer review processes.
  4. Be at the centre of exciting debates and advances in the industry. Join the debate on Open-Access or be at the forefront of technological advances in academic materials and e-learning. If you’re into tech and finding new ways of engaging digitally-savvy audiences, academic publishing is an exciting place to be.
  5. While it’s not all about the money, the salaries are often higher in academic publishing than in other sectors like trade.

So what’s your favourite thing about working in academic publishing?

For more information about what academic publishing is and how you can get into it, see our blog posts here and here.

To see our current academic vacancies, click here.

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How to Get Ahead in Academic Publishing

Today we have a guest post from Academic Professional: Suzanne Kavanagh.Suzanne Kavanagh Academic Book Week

 

Suzanne Kavanagh has worked in publishing for over 20 years, most recently as Director of Marketing and Membership Services at ALPSP. You can contact her via @sashers or suzanne.kavanagh@gmx.com.

 

How to Get Ahead in Academic Publishing

Armed with a fistful of crumpled CVs and an Art History degree, I trudged up and down Charing Cross Road looking for a bookselling job. I’d set my heart on working in publishing in my third year at uni, but trawling through The Guardian I realised it would be hard for me to stand out from hundreds of applicants who, no doubt, also felt just as passionately about books and read voraciously as I did. I figured bookselling would be a good starting point.

This was the first time I’d considered what I had to offer. It made me think about how selling jeans in a shop provided influencing, negotiation and questioning skills. I realised that bar work provided customer service and conflict resolution skills (as well as excess consumption of warm white wine…essential for low budget book launches). Fast forward a few weeks and I was happily ensconced at a specialist art bookseller.

Aside from a borderline obsession with alphabetising each section and secretly sniffing new stock, I learned a lot that would be relevant for my career.

It was pretty cutting edge for *coughs* 1993 *coughs*. We had a PC networked stock management system. We used this to mail out subject leaflets to customers around the world. I used my enthusiasm and retail experience to help customers find the book they were after and proved to be an occasional foil to the sometimes-grumpy owner.

My first job at a small trade publisher was in the sales and marketing team. I dealt with bibliographic information, wrote jacket blurbs, marketing copy and produced the new titles catalogue. I got to know everyone in the company and gained a real insight into the publishing process.

But the low salary made it hard to live in London. Sound familiar?

Meanwhile a friend kept telling me about the publisher she worked at. They published academic texts for students, researchers and professionals in the humanities and social sciences. She loved working there. And she was paid quite a bit more than me. Academic publishing had never occurred: I’d always assumed that publishing meant fiction, poetry and pictures. But the facts speak for themselves.

The UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport reports that the publishing sector employed 200,000 people in 2015 – an increase of 3.7% on the year before. (Source: DCMS 2016 Focus on Creative Industries report). These figures include book, journal, newspapers, magazines and database publishing. However, in 2011, Creative Skillset reported the breakdown by sub-sector: Journals and Periodicals employed 26% of the workforce and Book Publishing 17% and Academic is drawn from both these categories.

In May 2016 the UK Publishers Association reported that total sales of book and journal publishing were up to £4.4 billion in 2015. Academic journal publishing was up 5% to £1.1 billion and there were £1.42 billion export revenues with two thirds of this figure in education, academic and ELT (English Language Teaching). (Source: PA Statistics Yearbook 2015 news release)

Academic is a vibrant sector employing a lot of people and is a major economic driver in the creative industries.

My second publishing job was at that academic publisher promoting journals and reference works. When asked why I wanted the job, the answer was clear: I’d relish working with books that support education, research and the furthering of knowledge. I got the job and – to my surprise and delight – a decent pay rise.

The great thing about many academic publishers is that they tend to be large organisations with more opportunity for training and promotion. I took all options open to me. I applied for internal jobs to learn about different lists and improve my skills. I was curious, enthusiastic, worked and played hard. I got to know people, respected different departments and personalities it took to run the business. Roles included Marketing Coordinator, Executive, Manager, Senior Manager.

Since then I’ve had the privilege of working in a range of organisations including Taylor & Francis, Continuum and the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers. I saw first hand how diverse the sector is at ALPSP, an international trade body for not-for-profit organisations. Their members include the American Historical Association, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the OECD, SAGE, as well as all the larger commercial companies like Elsevier and Springer Nature. There are a lot of publishers covering pretty much all disciplines.

I know it seems obvious, but the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that job mobility and training go hand in hand with progressing your career.

You may start in one department/role. That doesn’t preclude you moving to others where your experience is applied in different ways. There are plenty of opportunities with more specialist jobs where, with the right training, you can become expert in a particular niche.

When I started out, it was relatively simple: assistant / coordinator / executive / manager roles in sales / marketing / production / editorial. And now? Well a quick glance through the Atwood Tate vacancy list tells a story. Roles like ‘Predictive Analytics and Insight Specialist’ and ‘Instructional Designer’ sit alongside Product Editor and Marketing Executive. It’s a taste of how the industry is changing. If you move roles, and learn new skills, you’re more likely to get on.

So what does the future hold for you and what skills do you need to be successful? There are three main areas you need to plot your profile against. Where do you map yourself on this chart? Where do you want to be? This is by no means exhaustive, but provides insight into where the industry will be.

Academic Flow chart

My final advice for working in academic publishing?

  1. Be curious: ask open questions, listen and learn
  2. Read industry publications, blogs and research
  3. Remember you’re dealing with people: be courteous, build your network
  4. Take every training opportunity – from free webinars to paid-for courses
  5. Enjoy it! You’re giving something back to advancing human knowledge.

 

We thank Suzanne for her wonderful guest post!

For more information about Academic Book Week, and more information about academic publishing, see the official website and the Twitter feed.

If you are a publishing professional and would be interested in writing a guest post for Atwood Tate just get in touch.

Please email: eleanorpilcher@atwoodtate.co.uk or get in touch via any of our social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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The Academic Publishing Sector

Academic Publishing Header

Academic Publishing

In keeping with Academic Book Week (#AcBookWeek), today’s blog we’re discussing the Academic Sector in all its glory.

Most candidates, particularly new candidates to publishing, tend to overlook academic publishing. But Academic Publishing is a cutting edge and often a very exciting sector to work in!

An academic publisher publishes journals, books, articles and monographs on the latest findings within academic research. The content is often written by researchers and academics within a specific area of research – such as historians, doctors and scientists – and it is normally peer reviewed by fellow scholars of the same topic.

There is a lot of crossover between Academic Publishing and STM (Science, Technical, Medical) but we categorise them into two separate sectors at Atwood Tate.

Suitability within Academic Publishing

Many fields within academia have their own publications in which to publish their findings. These are the societies and publishers for which you would be applying to work for.

As such a degree, PhD, or a background within non-fiction publishing, or an evidential interest in a topic of academia, is preferable to many employers within academic publishing. Some more so than others. It often depends on the specifics of a role.

For an entry-level role in Academic publishing we recommend you gain as much as admin experience as possible. With regards to sales, design, marketing and other roles within publishing, a clear interest in academic publishing can be enough to be considered for a role. Also, if you have experience working within the higher education sector in some way this can also be useful. It shows a developed insight into the academic market and customers.

The skills and academic background required is dependent on the publisher in question.

If we have a role within academic publishing which you are interested in but are unsure of the qualifications required, feel free to ask us for clarification. We will be able to let you know what is required and discuss the role further.

What type of Publishers are Academic Publishers:

There are many different types of academic publishers. Here are some examples of the companies we’ve worked with before.

Many University establishments have their own academic presses, such as:

  • Oxford University Press
  • Manchester University Press
  • Cambridge University Press

But there are also societies and specific academic publishers, such as:

  • The Biochemical Society
  • Elsevier
  • Taylor & Francis
  • Springer

These are just some of many Academic Publishers in the UK, some of which have positions internationally as well.

Due to the exciting nature of the published content within academic publishing, this is a great sector in which to have a career. You can work on the latest research and publish exciting findings across many different topics. You can also work in an industry which is very often ahead of other publishing sectors, in terms of publishing innovations such as digital publishing, online platforms etc. It is as intellectually challenging as it is creative.

Interested in a role in Academic Publishing? Want to know more about the sector? Get in touch:

And make sure you check out the Twitter Feed and official website for #AcBookWeek.

Let us know what you would like to learn about next on our blog on our social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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Creating the Future of Academic Publishing

Creating the Future of Academic Publishing

On the 23rd of January our consultant Christina will be attending: Creating the Future of Academic Publishing: Strengthening the Research Ecosystem.

A conference in London as part of Academic Book Week and created by Emerald Publishing. The event is a chance to discuss academic publishing and reignite the old debates around the sector of publishing. The attendees will be reviewing the last five years of publishing and discussing the merges within publishing that have been going on!

It is sure to be a  very interesting evening and we’re looking forward to hearing the feedback and ideas that are discussed.

Are you going? You can book your tickets on Eventbrite, here.

Let us know if you’re attending or come and say hello to Christina when you’re there! You can contact us via any of our social media accounts: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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The IPG Autumn Conference – all about Reaching Readers

IPG 3 photo

It was a great day of talks and a forum for sharing ideas recently as the crème de la crème of the independent publishing world met up at the RSA for the IPG Autumn Conference. (Interesting fact: I got married at the RSA!)

Nick Harkaway kicked off with an entertaining look at how publishers can reach their readers via digital channels.  He urged us to consider what is the perfect reader experience? What’s yours?  What’s your readers?  He encouraged us to engage with people – more Argentine tango style and to be responsive, engage their passion.  Pick your area and know who you are as an independent publisher.  He mentioned a couple of publishers doing it well: Brands like Nosy Crow and Angry Robot are engaging and he knows that he’s very likely to like what they do next.

Other suggestions included publishing more quickly so readers don’t have to wait 12 or 18 months for the next book.  Also readers don’t want to pay more than once for the same content in different formats so think about bundling and in return get the customer details so you can learn who they are and what they will want to buy in future.

 

Tim Williams of Edward Elgar and Kate Wilson of Nosy Crow gave case studies of 2 very different publishing styles for different markets.

Edward Elgar Publishing specializes in the academic and professional markets and their books are mainly sold direct to libraries and Tim asked the question, if the customer isn’t the reader, why bother trying to reach them? Answer: Readers are also authors; readers request books from librarians; they write new books and they leave a trail of citations and usage data.

Nosy Crow has come a long way fast.  It’s hard to believe such a strong brand has only been going since 2010.  They have to reach their readers but through another person e.g. teacher, librarian, parent.  Kate outlined that publishing used to be about shouting to an unknown audience but now we have the opportunity to connect with book buyers directly.  This involves interacting with them via twitter, blogging and other social media.  They gather audience mailing info and have ambassadors who get early release material.  They have oversubscribed reading groups and have run a conference for their authors, illustrators etc.

Tips with social media – you need to be:

Consistent – stick to the voice you’ve decided on

Responsive – internet not as broadcast medium, interact

Respectful – have a sense of privilege to connect with readers

Grateful – for good reviews etc. thank them

Generous – talk about other publishers

 

In the very important ‘Supply chain’ section, Colin James of Penguin Random House outlined some of the changes they’ve made e.g. moving to a little and often printing model.  He stressed the importance of getting strong partnerships in place with printers and suppliers and getting SLAs in place.

Andy Cork of Printondemand-worldwide urged publishers to think about designing for manufacture in order to keep costs and timing manageable for POD.

Gareth Cuddy of ePub Direct gave us an insight into his world and considered the important question of how to help publishers manage and control data?  There are lots of products out there and publishers need reports but need to know what to do with all the data once it starts flooding in.

 

Suw Charman Anderson, gave lots of sound advice on publishers’ social media strategy, suggesting publishers think about their audience demographics – each social media has different users.  She advised us to use every piece of content 3 times e.g. on Twitter, your blog and Pinterest.  It’s important to measure the activity of your audience – when are they online?  Also measure your activity – are people sharing information? Importantly, review what you’re doing regularly and how successful it is and change as needed.

Guy Fowles and Rob Nichols from Constable & Robinson encouraged us to engage with our audience, encourage them to interact and share your content (& link back to your sites!).  Advice was given on how to get to the top of google listings – we need to have unique high quality original content that adds value e.g. photo albums, author interviews, comment or blog pieces, promotional videos, competitions.  And share it across multiple platforms different times to reach different audiences.

 

Chris Bennett of CUP gave a fascinating talk on global pricing issues and advised indies to hold their nerve.  The pricing disparity where publishers produce home market and international editions of textbooks and price to the local market is more severe especially with the onset of eBooks.

Lee Harris from Angry Robot was very entertaining and after his first thought on preparing a talk on pricing: “Look at what everyone else charges and charge that” gave a fascinating outline of the various considerations involved in setting prices.  He considered the implications of print and eBook pricing and the variations in acceptable prices both in the UK and the US.  What’s the best price for an eBook? Depends on what best refers to – the reader / publisher / industry!

Matt Haslum of Faber & Faber gave us some great ideas on the power of partnerships and how pretty much any publisher can come up with a partnership idea to suit their brand.

So, a lot of ideas and suggestions on reaching the reader along with some interesting observations e.g. that we want absence of screen sometimes (oh yes!) and that we consume in different ways.

 

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