When recruiting into the publishing industry we find that most entry level individuals, or even candidates looking to move into publishing, tend to be focused on editorial roles within a trade publishing house. The industry itself tends to attract a particularly creative crowd. It’s fair to say that many of those coming to us have a dream of working with established authors, taking long lunches to flesh out new creative visions and clinking glasses with an innovative team light years ahead of its time. The dream job.
Anyone who is currently working or has worked in the publishing industry before will know that the day-to-day reality of publishing isn’t always like that. Perhaps inevitably, from our perspective, we tend to find that STM, Educational, Academic and Professional publishers are often overlooked by those starting out. The bulk of our business tends to be within STM, Academic and Professional publishing markets. These markets are changing, growing and advancing quickly, digitally and commercially.
That being said, the differences between the recruitment needs of every sector don’t vary as much as you would expect. For instance, the obvious assumed prerequisite for recruitment within STM would be a relevant academic background. It is certainly helpful, in editorial roles particularly, but not always the case. Production, Sales, Marketing and Operations teams within Professional and STM publishing require the same excellent attention to detail, strong communication skills, the same ability to liaise with people at all levels and a great commercial focus and analytical eye. These skills will always be transferrable, whatever sector you’re looking to work in within publishing.
In regard to published content when working in STM, Educational, Academic or Professional publishing you may work on publications covering endocrinology, oncology, neurology, respiratory medicine, vibration or trauma. You may also come across journals covering sociology, art, language, logistics or even graphic novels. The sheer scope and proven impact of academia is far reaching and, some would argue, equal to the equivalent cultural reach of trade publishing.
It always helps to have some connection with, or interest in, the content you’re working on. This is why the Trade editorial route appears to be the preferred career path for candidates when stepping on to the publishing ladder. It’s fair to say that marketing or working in the production team for a physics journal may not be as immediately attractive as a popular fiction paperback list. However what is not said often enough is that the content, product, business models and markets in STM publishing are revolutionising the publishing industry and the scientific community which will have an impact on both our professional and personal lives.
STM and Academic publishing are pushing boundaries in terms of Open Access, peer reviewing and the general accessibility and distribution of content. STM and academic content has been digital far longer than trade mass market ebooks have been around, and digital skills in these markets have been in high demand for even longer. It’s the Developers, Project Managers and all-round digibods in these sectors that are now being hunted for trade publishing.
There are undoubtedly aspects of Academic, Professional and STM publishing that are worlds apart from Trade: the target customers and market that Sales and Marketing teams are focusing on (Academics, Students, Librarians); the production lifecycle of a journal is quite different to that of a book (it’s quicker!); the marketing tends to focus on a brand not an author/particular book/list; and the content is peer reviewed and edited by peers within that particular community rather than on an Editor’s laptop late on a Friday night. This knowledge of the industry isn’t inherent in anyone; they’re things that people learn from relentless enthusiasm and a bit of experience. Ultimately, relentless enthusiasm and a bit of experience is the most transferrable criteria of all.
Ultimately, regardless of the sector, Marketing roles need creativity and a good analytical eye, Sales roles need excellent interpersonal and relationship building skills, Editorial roles need an excellent grasp of the language they’re bashing into a coherent bit of text, Digital roles need pretty much everything. All of these are transferrable. The rest of it you can pick up or learn on the job – all you need is to think outside of the trade shaped box.