An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘proofreading’

Introducing Editorial Assistant Rosalind Moody

Welcome to another interview for the People in Publishing feature on my blog! Today’s interviewee is a good friend of mine who works in magazine publishing and has interned for a number of books publishers. We met through a mutual friend, Sam Stevens, and encouraged each other through harrowing job searches through the publishing industry! Rosalind is incredibly ambitious, extremely hard-working, and very talented. I can see her being a huge success in the publishing industry and I hope to continue learning from her. Below she discusses her job search, her current job, the benefits of interning, and gives advice on getting your foot in the door.

Please introduce yourself and describe your background and your career.

The lovely Rosalind Moody

The lovely Rosalind Moody

I’m Rosalind Moody and I’m a graduate from the University of Hull. I studied English and Philosophy and achieved a 2:1. Since my second year of university, I’ve completed unpaid internships at Endeavour Press, Simon & Schuster UK, Hodder and Stoughton and Just Imagine, a specialist children’s bookseller in Chelmsford. Last Christmas I was offered a job as Editorial Assistant at Colchester-based publishing company Aceville Publications who own a lot of major craft magazines, as well as other well-known titles such as Great British Food, Your Fitness and Natural Health. Make it Today is a new title I’m helping to develop but actually I’ve just been transferred to a more established magazine called Homemaker. I’m really enjoying myself and I’m constantly learning!

Having worked as an intern in books publishing and now as an Editorial Assistant for a magazine, what would you say is the biggest culture difference between the two types of publishing?

The biggest culture difference is who pays the bottom line. With books it’s just the reader to make the profit for the publisher, so no wonder the book is vulnerable at the moment. With magazines it’s the readers and the advertisers who all pay their way. So, although that means we as the magazine publishers have lots of people to please, money comes from two different directions – sales, and how well we direct our readers to our advertisers’ networks. Things work at different paces too – in magazines, you have to be prepared for things to change, and quickly. Rightly so, I think: if we see a trend, we can jump on it straight away and capitalise on the excitement, such as the recent surge in sewing after The Great British Sewing Bee became so big. I do quite like the quickened pace though – my first magazine comes out every six weeks, and the one I now work on is every four weeks. Publication dates for books are announced a year or 18 months in advance. I like it because I get to see results of my work within weeks, which is always really satisfying, and there’s more of an instant feedback with our readers too; there’s a lot more conversation between our team and our readers than there is between book editor and reader, whose job it is to be virtually invisible and let the author’s voice come through the best it can. Social media has helped to cement this kind of relationship, but our names and headshots are all over the magazine anyway! I enjoy this kind of relationship, and I always have the reader in mind when I’m ordering in any product, writing introductions to projects or interviewing a person who’s popular in the craft industry – what would the reader most like to read?

A big similarity between magazine and book publishing, however, is that they are just two types of effective editorial, which in my book is an idea being communicated in the most creative way, from one person to a page. In buying a book or a magazine, the reader is buying into escapism, an inspiration: a book and a craft magazine both give the feeling the reader can go anywhere or do anything in their mind. The reader is still buying an idea or an ideal of themselves. Finishing a pattern from one of dressmaking issues is like making it to the end of the book. Satisfying, and the better we’ve made our product, the more likely it is they’ll finish it!

Why was work experience and interning so important and valuable in your job search? What is your point of view on Book Careers’ decision to only deal with internships and work experience placements that are paid?

I think the stand they’ve taken is great; someone needed to, and hopefully others will, although it’s unlikely it will catch on. It’s hard to be expected to do six months’ worth of unpaid internships and then live on a pittance when we finally get hired in an entry level job, but that’s what most of us have to do to work in this exciting, frustrating industry of publishing. I count myself lucky that I could do my four unpaid internships, and ‘lucky’ isn’t the word a lot of people would use to be able to work for free I’m sure! My parents were supportive and I live a 45 minute train journey outside of London. Good editorial thinking is a skill, so why aren’t we being paid for it? My internships experience was brilliant though, aside from the financial matters – I learnt things from putting together an adult self-teaching language pack to commissioning ebook jacket covers to proofreading Kylie’s latest biography! My main problem though, is with a company called Creative Access that only advertises internships to BAME or ethnic minorities – isn’t that positive discrimination? I think publishing would be more vibrant if anyone from any background was in it, so why should we care where they’re from? Pay them the same and see who does better on their own merit.

“In magazines, you have to be prepared for things to change, and quickly.”

Having been through the harrowing process of finding your very first job in publishing, what would you say is the most valuable piece of advice you can give to current job searchers?

Be on EVERY recruitment network; Brand Republic, Guardian Jobs, Gorkana, The GRB team, LinkedIn Jobs. Seek the help of publishing recruitment agents too, even though some are more proactive than others. Say no to the jobs they tell you about that are just not ‘you’; they will be a waste of your application time! Give yourself an edge, too – that was advice I was given by the Sales Director at Hodder and Stoughton. My edge was working from the bookselling side at Just Imagine, where I worked with PR people from the publishing houses. To follow on from that, meet anyone you can at any book event you can tag along to, and you never know who you’ll meet – some of my best contacts from internships have not been the employer themselves but other interns or people you meet at events you’re helping at. For example, I met a theatre critic for the Guardian when I was interning at Just Imagine while she was promoting her new children’s books, and since then she’s taken me to the theatre in London with her at least three times. I was in my element!

Lastly, as you become more experienced, make sure you apply for jobs you think are just out of reach, or for a role for a publisher you think would never even consider you – you never know! I still don’t know why I didn’t get other jobs, but what matters is someone saw my merit and now I can go back to bigger publishers later. By the end of my search, I wasn’t applying to much because I didn’t need to: I was just invited to interviews because my name was out there and my CV was being passed around companies like Orion! I think publishing is survival of the fittest – you have to really want it, because the job search will challenge you, and some will just give up and go into another industry. If you want to do that, fine, but once you’re in, you’re in!

What would a working day in magazine publishing look like? What is the most enjoyable part of your current job and equally the most challenging?

I’m one of those people who find the most challenging the most enjoyable, so I would have to say that would be liaising with our advertising staff and their clients as well as the suppliers I want to feature editorially in exchange for a prize or a product. These are the people I have to really be the ‘people person’ I am with, as it’s all about the money at the end of the day! That’s the most challenging bit – getting what you want for free, when they want the most editorial space for free! You rarely get editorial completely for free – words cost money! Other times in my day would be spent interviewing people, either on the phone or through their press team via email, and organising high res images and extract with publishers. That’s not to say we’re stealing content for our magazine; we’re just repurposing material, which is what I love about magazines – recycling content to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

Only then, when deals have been made, loose ends have been agreed, comes the writing, the actual editorial bit! I love making a story out of a feature, and really giving our Make it Today-ers and Homemakers a good read that has some meaning or inspiration. Press week is really when the editorial and proofreading skill comes in, as we’re editing right on the proofs and making changes with the designers on the Macs, from small proofreading corrections to honouring house style to completely reconfiguring the layout of a page.

It was probably the best thing I could have done to start working in magazine, as I get to talk to so many people in so many different publishing companies – I probably have more widespread contact than I would if I worked in their company, but the best thing is, if I want to get back into that, I have a great understanding of how it works from the magazine side. Plus I’ve learnt to crochet, patchwork and am going on a dressmaking course, and I can call it ‘work’!

“Don’t be afraid to ask people who have given you opportunities for more opportunities either.”

In what ways did working on the Hull University paper The HullFire equip you and prepare you for a job in publishing?

The newspaper really prepared me for a magazine job because they both demanded me to be creative with feature ideas, as well as all the business matters such as setting various people deadlines regularly and having a quick press cycle to keep up with. I also am familiar with InDesign, which is immensely useful from my time laying up endless sections of The Hullfire. I feel like I’m pretty good at crisis management too; if a contributor says on their deadline day that they decided not to contribute anything in the end, you can’t argue with that. You just rearrange your ideas and pages and swiftly drop them from your list if you can afford to!

You have experience in proofreading, editing, copywriting and blogging, amongst other things. Which would you say you enjoy the most and why?

I find it exciting to get a piece of work which is fresh to my eyes and dive in. I do a lot of copywriting, from little captions in a chatty magazine style to sustaining an engaging tone throughout a lengthy feature, but I enjoy the variation and the writing practice I get every day is great. When I’m blogging I can write whatever I want, and publish it however I want, so I love the freedom – you can probably see what I mean if you visit my blog and have a scroll through! The only problem is I don’t have a deadline for my blog, and so I like the discipline of magazine deadlines – they are clear cut, fuss-free and final.

“The publishing business is as much about personalities as it is about books.”

What recent developments in publishing excite you the most?

I love that someone who is a book journalist on the telegraph Gaby Wood can head up the Man Booker prize – there is movement within the industry, and more and more women are chosen for the big posts. I like to hear about children’s publishing due to my last internships at a children’s bookseller, new education apps from my time at John Murray Press Teach Yourself, non-fiction from my time at S&S and digital news from Endeavour, which I’m still involved with. More recently, I find it fascinating that the latest craze, adult colouring books, have become so popular – even bestsellers on Amazon! Now we’re including smaller adult colouring in books as bonus gifts with our craft magazines, and I love that there’s that crossover between art, books and magazines, as there is with almost every type of book product in the publishing industry.

The last thing I would like to add would be to put yourself out there on every level. Do you have your social media updated and relevant to publishing? Is your CV perfect and has it been checked by a HR professional on an internship? Have you got a blog that you update and promote? Don’t be afraid to ask people who have given you opportunities for more opportunities either. For example, you could shadow the team on a press night when it’s not expected of you to be there. Always say thank you, because you will be remembered for your style. The publishing business is as much about personalities as it is about books.

Rosalind x

You can follow Rosalind on Twitter @MiniRoyMoody

You can read her blog at www.themoodymuses.wordpress.com

Please post below if you have any questions for Rosalind, and I will get them answered!

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Introducing Digital Marketer and ex-Editorial Assistant Lucy Houlden

Today’s interview is with Lucy Houlden, who used to work as an Editorial Assistant at my workplace Emerald Group Publishing. Funnily enough, we’ve never actually met in person, despite having formed a friendship online and knowing and working with many of the same people. She left Emerald a mere couple of weeks before I started. She noticed my new job role on LinkedIn and connected that way. Since meeting through Twitter, we’ve come to realise how similar our backgrounds and aspirations are. She’s an inspiration for me and further proof that coming from the North does not have to restrict your achievements in the publishing industry.

Lucy Houlden

Please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about your background and your career so far.

Hello, I’m Lucy. I live way up north in lovely Durham, which is a great place for anyone who enjoys the essentials in life (tea and cake!). I come from Lincolnshire, but I moved up to Newcastle to study English Language and Literature, with a plan to pursue a career in publishing. Since then, I’ve picked up lots of different experience, including proof reading for a student newspaper, doing an internship with a literary magazine, starting up a company newsletter, doing work experience at Dorling Kindersley, and working in academic and business publishing. It’s been a very busy few years! However, everything is about to change once again, as I’m soon going to be moving into a new role in digital marketing.

What made you so interested in the publishing industry?

As a child, I nearly always had my nose in a book, so the idea of working behind the scenes to make books happen really sparked my interest. Spelling and grammar always clicked well with me too, so it made sense to pursue a career which involved writing and editing. Since working in the industry, however, I’ve realised that it’s about far more than just editing, and it’s opened my eyes to other skills such as marketing.

I also found it really rewarding to work closely with authors and editors.

Tell me a little bit about how you got into the industry.

I first started gathering experience at sixth form, by becoming the Editor of my school’s magazine. Then, when I went off to university, I became a proof reader for the university’s student newspaper. After I graduated, I did a 3 month voluntary internship with a literary magazine called Mslexia, which is based in Newcastle. I was struggling to find a paid role, as there are so few creative jobs up in Newcastle, but I didn’t want to leave as I’d fallen in love with the north and I’d met my boyfriend up here!

Eventually, I heard about an open day at Penguin Books called Getting Into Publishing. You had to apply for a place at the event, and I was lucky enough to get one. It was a brilliant day, with presentations by members of staff from Penguin, Puffin and Dorling Kindersley (DK). There was an opportunity to network with the members of staff, so I did my best to meet as many Editors as I could, and got hold of lots of their e-mail addresses. The next day, I got in touch with everyone I was interested in working with. I was also given a leaflet about a competition DK was running, where you could win work experience by promoting a DK product using social media. I actually ended up winning the competition, but was also offered work experience by one of the contacts I emailed, so I got two work experience placements!

The first one was a three-week placement with the DK Editorial department, and the next one was a few months later and was a one-week placement with the DK Marketing and PR team. I had some really fantastic experiences with DK, including helping out with a photo shoot, going to an editorial meeting for Puffin children’s books, meeting the late Sue Townsend and getting her autograph, and going to a talk by the Editor of Vogue. I had a fantastic time, and getting the valuable experience under my belt meant that a few months later, I got my first paid role, as an Assistant Publisher for an academic publishing house called Emerald Group Publishing in Yorkshire. It was a long journey, and I had to be very persistent, but I got there eventually! After that, I went on to have a role with a business publisher in Gateshead, and moved up to Durham where I am now.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career in publishing?

I found it really rewarding when I ran campaigns at Emerald to promote the journals, and got some really good results from that. It makes you feel like what you’ve done is worthwhile when you can see the usage of the articles has increased. That’s what made me interested in pursuing the marketing route! I also found it really rewarding to work closely with authors and editors and solve any problems they had. When they gave me positive feedback, it made me feel really good that I was able to help them.

You might need to be flexible and make some compromises.

Tell me a little bit about Publishing In The North, your blog. What motivated you to start this up?

I started this blog quite soon after I started working at Emerald. As I mentioned earlier, it had taken me quite a while to break into a paid role in publishing whilst living in the north of England. I suppose I wanted to share some of my findings, and to show that it is possible to pursue a publishing career up here, although it’s very tough and there certainly aren’t enough jobs for everyone. I also wanted to try to create a central place for any news about publishing in the north to be advertised, such as events run by the Society of Young Publishers and job vacancies. Unfortunately, I have been extremely lax at keeping it going though, so it is woefully neglected!

I was partly inspired by a publishing blog called Diary of a Publishing Intern (now renamed Diary of a Publishing Professional, available at http://diaryofapublishingintern.blogspot.co.uk). It’s a really good blog as it lists opportunities such as work experience and jobs, but they’re mostly in London. I wanted to try to provide something similar for the north, although of course there is less going on!

What advice do you have for those who live in the North who would like to pursue a career in publishing?

Be persistent, as it’s not going to be easy if you want to stay up north! Do whatever you can to get some experience under your belt. For example, you could start writing book reviews, proof read your university newspaper or ask local media organisations if they could give you work experience. You might need to be flexible and make some compromises. For instance, you might always have dreamt of editing fiction, but if you want to stay in the north then you’ll have better job prospects if you consider a much broader variety of publications. You’ll also probably need to consider quite a wide search area. I worked in Yorkshire and travelled back to see my boyfriend in Durham at weekends for a couple of years, which was a compromise but it was worth it in the end.

Getting some work experience in London can also be very valuable in the long run. I know it might seem too expensive to go down there, but it is possible if you really want it. I did my work experience whilst on annual leave from my paid job in Newcastle (with their permission), and whilst I was in London I slept in youth hostels so that I could afford it! I would advise people to check out the Getting Into Publishing event at Penguin books as well, if it’s still running this year. It’s usually held in around October/November.

What’s next for you in your career? How has your time in publishing helped equip you for this next exciting step?

I’m soon going to be starting work at a digital marketing agency. I’ll be working in the Search team, so I’ll be helping clients to ensure their websites are performing well in search engine results, for example by making sure that their online content is top notch. There’s going to be lots to learn! Working in publishing has definitely helped me to reach this point, as I probably wouldn’t have realised marketing was a route I was interested in if I hadn’t experienced it as an Editorial Assistant at Emerald. There are also lots of transferrable skills between publishing and marketing, such as written and oral communications skills, problem solving, analysing data and working with external stakeholders. Working as an Editorial Assistant was extremely demanding and varied, and I think it’s prepared me for just about anything!

You can find me on Twitter at @LucyHoulden.

My (much abandoned) blog is at www.publishinginthenorth.wordpress.com

Do you have any further questions for Lucy? Input them into the comments box below and I will get them answered for you! Any other comments are also welcomed and encouraged.

Introducing Proofreader, Editor and Copywriter Melissa Hofpar

I am very happy and grateful to host an interview today with Melissa Hofpar, the brains and beauty behind Composed Success! (One wonderful bonus of interviewing a proofreader – you already know it’s word-perfect, making for very light or no editing!) Here she discusses how she got into the profession and the challenges and benefits of freelance editing…

Melissa Hofpar of Composed Success

Melissa Hofpar of Composed Success

I have edited documents for several truly brilliant individuals.

What kind of projects do you work on?

With a few exceptions, I primarily work on non-fiction and academic documents. Most of my time is spent writing or editing grant proposals, various types of marketing copy, and user manuals. I also edit and format dissertations, primarily for doctoral candidates in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. I also proofread fiction work and have performed light copy editing for a few authors.

Your aspirations once were to become a journalist. What drove you to move away from that ambition and towards technical editing, writing and proofreading?

I realized that I could not distance myself enough on an emotional level to be an effective career journalist. One spring when I was an undergraduate, I covered a story on local flooding as a student reporter. After watching and speaking to people who had been filling sandbags for hours in an effort to save their homes and properties, I didn’t want to go back to campus and write up a story about these people for the newspaper. I wanted to throw down my notepad and paper right there, pick up a shovel, and help them in their race against time and nature. Shortly after that, I started looking for ways in which I could contribute my writing skills as a member of a team, and that is how I found opportunities in the area of technical writing.

How do you advertise yourself and your services and what’s the most challenging thing about getting your name and company out there?

The most challenging aspect of marketing is simply taking the time to do it! I am on the list of editors at local universities (North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill). I also use social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook on a semi-regular basis, in order to let potential customers know that I am actively engaged in the industry! So much of my work is performed remotely — I only occasionally meet with my clients in person ― so it’s important to maintain a visible presence online.

I truly enjoy the supportive role of helping my clients shine in their respective fields.

How valuable did you find your experience editing a school newspaper and interning? What made you choose freelance work rather than in-house employment?

My experiences during my undergraduate years at two different student newspapers and two different city newspapers were invaluable in laying the groundwork for my career. I learned about the unyielding nature of deadlines, the importance of understanding your audience and the overall power of simple, good writing. Perhaps most importantly, I learned how to handle constructive criticism and how to value input from a copy editor. Now that I’m on the “other side of the pen,” so to speak, I draw from all of those experiences when working with my clients.

What are the benefits and advantages for working as a self-employed editor?

I value the freedom and autonomy in employment. Although an editor never has freedom from deadlines, I do enjoy the freedom to collaborate with professionals on projects that interest me. I also appreciate the fact that I do not have to deal with rush-hour traffic to start work!

Do you stay connected with the editing and publishing industry and professionals? How do you keep yourself on top of new developments?

I have joined multiple professional organizations, such as the Professional Editors Network, the Society for Technical Communication and the American Medical Writers Association, and I also belong to a local writers’ group. In order to stay informed in my field, I take classes whenever I can. One of my favorite aspects of this job is the constant opportunity to learn. This spring, I am taking an online class on the American Medical Association Manual of Style through the Editorial Freelancers Association. I have a strong background in the life sciences, and have edited multiple scientific dissertations, so this class is the natural next step in the learning process for me.

 I enjoy the freedom to collaborate with professionals on projects that interest me.

How do you deal with those times when your workload/pipeline becomes light? Equally what’s your process for handling a large and demanding workload? How do you stay motivated at these times?

I tend to use a little caffeine motivation (extra coffee!) when I am grinding my way through a heavy workload. I also break very large tasks up into smaller milestones, which helps keep me focused and motivated to finish (and to push through late nights, when necessary). When I experience periods with a lighter workload, I try to catch up on administrative and marketing tasks, such as updating my website.

Would you say you prefer the editing or the writing side of things?

This is such an excellent question! I enjoy both for different reasons. I primarily prefer editing, because I truly enjoy the supportive role of helping my clients’ shine in their respective fields. I have edited documents for several truly brilliant individuals, and I soak up their energy and learn about their perspectives as much as possible. As a technically minded individual, I tend to view editing as a highly precise activity, and as such I obtain a lot of satisfaction from the basic exercise of fixing what is incorrect and finding potential improvements within text. However, the inner journalist within me enjoys writing as well. Even if I am writing a user manual or contributing to a grant proposal, I enjoy the creative process of building something from nothing and the opportunity to construct information within critically decisive areas for my clients.

 I learned about the unyielding nature of deadlines, the importance of understanding your audience and the overall power of simple, good writing.

What type of client do you most enjoy working for?

I have enjoyed working with nearly all of my clients so far. Even though I can’t pick a favorite “type” of client, I find that my favorite clients tend to be more technical by nature, and they all share a common priority with me: their readers. If an author, researcher, or marketing professional is genuinely interested in how their readers will respond to their document, they are highly engaged in the editing process and bring a lot of vivacity into the project.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is the knowledge that I truly am helping people. Whether I’m working for a scientist who is on the cusp of completing a dissertation steeped in ground-breaking research, a company polishing a user manual for a new product that will benefit consumers, or a marketing agency creating an exciting campaign, I get to participate and contribute to an effort that will certainly assist at least one person, and likely will ultimately impact a lot of people. 

And a little bit about yourself as a person! What do you like to do (and most specifically read!) in your spare time?

I love to read! I’ve often found that real people are more fascinating than fictional characters, so I generally tend to prefer biographies and books about historical events. Occasionally, I also enjoy reading a good mystery novel, especially one set in a historical time period or in another country. Perhaps the only activity I love more than reading is spending time with my husband, two children, and two dogs. I also tinker with a few small hobbies, such as gardening. One of my biggest ambitions this year is training to run a half-marathon. 

Interested in learning more about Melissa’s company and services?

Visit www.composedsuccess.com

Follow on Twitter @ComposedSuccess

You can also reach her directly at melissa@composedsuccess.com

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Introducing Digital Publisher Andri Nel

Andri Nel, South African Digital Publisher

Andri Nel, South African Digital Publisher

Please introduce yourself! What is your personal and professional background, and how did you get into publishing?

I am Andri Nel and I live in Pretoria, South Africa. I completed my Publishing honours degree at the University of Pretoria, the only University of South Africa where you can study publishing, at the end of 2014 (our semesters work on full years not half years) and I will be furthering my studies at Oxford Brookes University on September when I start my Masters in Digital Publishing.

Digital Publishing is my passion. I fell in love with it 3 years ago in my final year of my undergraduate degree and have been working in as many fields of digital publishing as I can here in South Africa. During the years in which I completed my honours degree I entered the world of freelance digital publishing, doing both conversions and drawing up digital publishing strategies for publishers. Digital publishing is a very young field and one that is even more daunting to most publishers in South Africa where we are still struggling with a very bad reading culture, poverty and very little access to the internet in the rural areas. My personal goal is to help break the ice in this field and make digital publishing accessible to all publishers and use it to enhance the reading culture in the eleven official languages of South Africa.

Tell us about the company you work for. What type of publishing do you work in?

I am involved in a number of projects in the field of publishing, all focussing on digital publishing. As a freelancer I am currently working on the implementation of a digital publishing strategy for a nature publisher, Briza Publications, as well as the conversion, selling and launching of an independent author’s book on the compilation of prison letters by Ghandi’s son in law during Apartheid South Africa.

To keep the bread on the table I work on projects in educational digital publishing and have perfected the art of editing eBooks on screen. It was a learning curve as this is not a field which has been practiced a lot in South African publishing.

My passion lies with a venture called KliekClick which I started with three other women. KliekClick is an independent digital publisher publishing original short stories for children between the ages of 9 and 15 in Afrikaans (one of South Africa’s national languages and my mother tongue). We have a website and online store where children can buy stories in ePub and mobi format for as little as R5 (£0.25c). We also encourage children to write to us. The bulk of our stories came from a writing competition we launched on Facebook and the response was overwhelming. KliekClick is venturing out into educating learners about digital reading in 2015 with visits to schools and encouraging more children to write in their mother tongue. It is a venture I am extremely passionate. Our site is in Afrikaans, but please give it a look at www.kliekclick.co.za as well as our online shop at www.kliekclick/winkel.co.za

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Who is your target audience?

As a freelancer my target audience is publishing houses looking to venture into digital publishing and independent authors wanting to self-publish in digital format.

KliekClick’s target audience is children between the ages of 9 and 15, but also their parents as they are the ones with the money (of course).

What excites you most about digital publishing?

The possibilities digital publishing holds for publishing and especially publishing in South Africa. It is still a challenge for publishers in South Africa to understand that eBooks are not a replacement for print book (especially not in South Africa’s economic climate), but rather an extension. What excited me about working with publishers is teaching them new skills and seeing them get excited about the new ventures. What excited me about KliekClick is the opportunity we are giving short story authors, who are mostly turned down by big publishers, to have their stories published and the positive response we receive from both parents and children about the stories and the new experience they are having by buying and reading digitally.

KliekClick, the independent digital publishing company started by Andri Nel and three colleagues.

KliekClick, the independent digital publishing company started by Andri Nel and three colleagues.

How well received is digital publishing in South Africa? Is there a large publishing industry and a lot of publishers where you live?

Publishing in South Africa is mainly monopolised by the group NB Publishers, who own most of the smaller publishers, and then a lot of international publishers with branches here such as Penguin Random House, Oxford University Press and Pearson. Smaller publishers in South Africa focus on the niche markets such as language or nature. The industry itself is very small in South Africa though and is very female dominant, it really seems everyone knows everyone.

Digital publishing is still very new to South African publishing and many publishers are reluctant to venture into it. There are almost no South African publishers that publish in digital first format or even bring out a digital edition along with their print edition. Most eBooks are only backlist titles. Educational publishing has been more willing to enter into digital publishing as the Department of Education is pushing for digital learning in schools. The reluctance of most publishers is understandable as there are not real publishers with the necessary skills in digital publishing here yet (the digital publishing program was only added to the publishing curriculum 4 years ago) and because of the lack of internet infrastructure we have in the country. Most people cannot afford eReaders and tablets and despite internet connection being relatively good in the cities, some rural areas do not have any internet connection. Some publishers have started the transition, but there are still many obstacles to overcome for digital publishing.

Do you agree with the view point that is being widely discussed at the moment, about how all publishing professionals will soon need digital publishing skills to stay ahead in the game?

I think all publishers should have an understanding of all skills and fields in publishing. For example any publisher should have at least a minimal understanding of copy editing and proofreading. I think the same goes for digital publishing. Everyone in publishing should understand how it works and understand the “lingo” but not everyone needs to be a developer, not everyone needs to know how to code and create the eBook from scratch. It is a matter of understanding the field and how it fits in with your field of publishing.

eBooks are not a replacement for the print book, but rather an extension.

What do you feel are the advantages of digital publishing?

There are many generic advantages such as lower environmental impact, lower production costs (sometimes) and readers always being able to have their books with them. However I think the biggest advantage of digital publishing is the enhancement it can give to publishing. Not all books should be eBooks, I truly believe that, but those that are should not simply be a print book in digital format, what is the use. eBooks, in my opinion, should be advanced with media overlays, videos, links inside the book and outside the books. For publishers I think the biggest advantage of digital publishing is that for the first time in a long time, we can be completely creative, almost crazy, again and think outside the box. It makes for an exciting new chapter for publishing in general.

I think all publishers should have an understanding of all skills and fields in publishing.

What are the challenges facing digital publishing at the moment?

I think one of the biggest challenges is the platforms we are currently reading eBooks on. There is such a variety, but at the same time no real standard. Not only does this confuse readers and in many cases make them turn from eBooks all together, but it also makes the publisher’s job very difficult. Each platform it seems uses its own format and own DRM (which is a challenge in its own right) and it is becoming increasingly difficult to create one file which can work on all platforms. Even though productions costs might not be as high as print, they are pushed up because compatibility tests now need to be done on all different readers. Maybe it will never happen, but ultimately I think it would be best if there was one true standard for all eBooks which could allow easy reading and even sharing amongst readers.

Cartoon of Andri and her publishing colleagues.

Cartoon of Andri and her publishing colleagues.

In your point of view, will digital make print obsolete, or compliment it?

I don’t think digital will replace print, but rather enhance it. Some people will always read print books (no matter their age) others will prefer digital. Some books will always be better in print, others in digital. I compare it to paperback and hardcover, the one enhanced the other, neither one overshadows the other.

What do you read in your spare time?

I love reading classics (over and over again), biographies and Afrikaans novels, as I still love the way the Afrikaans language has evolved on the writing front.

You can follow Andri on Twitter @An3nel

Introducing Freelance Editor Helen Stevens

My relationship with today’s interviewee proves the power of networking – I met her at a Society of Young Publishers event in Leeds after befriending her on Facebook in a Proofreaders and Editors group. Helen supported me a lot through my job hunt (and trust me, I never let anybody on Facebook forget that I was job hunting!) and told me about the two Editorial Assistant vacancies at Emerald Group Publishing near where she lives (I was successful in applying for the second one!) Not only this, but as my interview was at 8 am after a gruelling 4-hour coach and train journey, she picked me up from the train station and drove me to the Emerald offices. She sat with me and gave me advice and support until I plucked up the courage to go in there, and then picked me up and took me for tea and toast (ALWAYS a winner if you want something from me!) before I headed back to Hull. I owe a lot to this woman, and I admire her a lot. I only hope to be as good an Editor as her one day!

Never underestimate the power of networking, folks! Not only do you get to make lasting friendships, but you never know just how valuable those friendships can be in helping each other advance in their careers. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to repay the favour for her one day.

Helen Stevens, Freelance Editor.

Helen Stevens, Freelance Editor.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

After graduating I worked for 8 years in the NHS in Lancaster as an admin officer and then a personnel officer.

How did you get into editing and proofreading?

While on maternity leave from my NHS job I decided I’d like a change of direction. I took a distance learning course in proofreading and then started sending my CV to publishers. I took on my first proofreading job at the end of 1995.

Did you find the transition to self employment to be a challenge? Did you feel excited or scared?

It was a challenge in some ways, although I’d already left the ‘9 to 5’ world of work, so that side of things wasn’t as much of a shock. I was excited, as I loved the work and enjoyed the flexibility and variety.

How long have you had an interest in editing and publishing?

Since I decided on my change of career. It wasn’t something I’d thought about before that.

What three things would you say are essential for a freelance editor to have?

Perseverance, flexibility, and a good supply of Yorkshire Tea.

…it’s a good idea to be on the look-out for new sources of work all the time.

Do you focus on a particular type or genre of writing?

I’ve always worked on non-fiction, although the type of work I do has varied over the years. In the beginning I proofread a lot of self-help/instructional books. Now I mainly edit material for non-native-English authors, including reports for an EU agency and journal articles for academics.

What are the biggest challenges and advantages you face as a freelancer?

The biggest challenges are, I suppose, the isolation and the lack of security. You don’t have the support of colleagues, as you would in an office environment, for example, and that can be an issue both professionally and socially. In terms of security, I’ve learnt over the years that it’s no good putting all your eggs in one basket, client-wise. I had one regular client who stopped using freelancers almost overnight, but luckily I had other sources of work to fall back on. As well as having a range of clients to keep you busy, it’s a good idea to be on the look-out for new sources of work all the time.

With more and more publishers outsourcing editorial work to freelancers, what must you do to keep yourself ahead of the competition?

Demonstrating your skills in the form of qualifications or professional status is important (I’m an advanced member of the SfEP). As much as anything, though, it’s about making sure clients can find you, and making sure you do a good job for those clients so that they come back for more (and recommend you to others!).

How do you keep yourself actively involved in the publishing industry while working at home?

Being a member of the SfEP is a great way of keeping yourself involved, whether that’s through the members’ forum, the magazine or the annual conference. But social media is also useful for finding out what’s going on, both in the UK and around the globe.

What do you like to read in your spare time?

I usually read fiction, although I’ve just finished Alan Johnson’s This Boy (the first volume of his autobiography), which I’m reading for my book group. Another memoir I enjoyed recently was Catherine Gildiner’s After the Falls, the follow-up to one of my favourite books of all time, Too Close to the Falls.

As a fellow Northerner in the publishing industry, what are your views on the clear North/south divide in publishing? Do people in the North have enough of a say or enough opportunity to have their voices heard in the industry?

Since my clients aren’t ‘traditional’ publishers, I don’t particularly feel this North/South divide. In fact, most of my clients are based overseas, so the North/South divide doesn’t affect me as much as it would other people working in the publishing industry.

I guess the only thing I notice is that a lot of the interesting publishing-related events tend to be in London, which is a shame.

Your favourite writers and books?

I don’t have a favourite author as such. I’ve enjoyed the novels of John Irving, Magnus Mills, Donna Tartt, Patrick Gale, Anne Tyler, Robertson Davies, Ian McEwan… (in no particular order).

You can find out more about Helen and her proofreading, editing and copywriting services here.

Follow her on Twitter @HelenSaltedit

Find out more about the SfEP here.

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