/ Anyone here with experience in the publishing industry?

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pineapple - on 02 Feb 2013
Specifically book publishing, but I'd be interested to hear from other area, such as magazines.

Does anyone have any advice about, or experience in this industry? Any information on what area you worked in, where you were based, good points/ bad points, hours etc. would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!
Only a hill - on 02 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:
I have no experience of working within the traditional publishing industry, but I have been through the motions of trying to get a book on the shelves by that route. My current advice to new authors is not to bother trying--it's a complete waste of time and effort.

As a self-published author, I'm riding the wave of the enormous revolution currently happening in publishing as a whole, and consider myself reasonably well informed about what's going on (I have to be in order to remain competitive).

If you're thinking of getting a job in the industry, my advice would be to be very careful. A lot of publishing houses are going to go bust (or undergo rapid and drastic transformation) over the next couple of years. Authors have finally worked out they don't need traditional publishers any more to reach their audience so the big companies are having to radically change their tactics to survive.
In reply to Only a hill:
> -it's a complete waste of time and effort.

Do you think that might be dependent on what sort of book you've written? Obviously some people still do well publishing via the traditional channels.

Only a hill - on 02 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
> [...]
>
> Do you think that might be dependent on what sort of book you've written? Obviously some people still do well publishing via the traditional channels.

A tiny minority make money going the traditional way, but the main problem is that (with any kind of book) you only get a small window of opportunity. There's only so much shelf space and new books are coming out all the time. The net result is that your book might only be in stores for a few months before being withdrawn from sale--unless you take off, which for 99% of authors (if it happens at all) is a process that takes longer than a few months...

Going indie, thanks to ebooks and print on demand, means that this simply is not a consideration. My books will never go out of print unless I choose (barring unforeseen circumstances).

In addition, publishers pile huge pressure on authors to make their books as commercial as possible. Not necessarily a bad thing I hear you cry ... except that some of these authors are being forced to change their books beyond all recognition just to fit the publisher's requirements. I don't mean small changes here and there, I mean really big, sweeping changes to the plot and characters. A friend of mine has totally lost confidence in her own book thanks to her publisher's mercenary and ruthless behaviour. It literally bears no resemblance to the manuscript she submitted originally.

When you also consider the fact that most publishers don't even offer you that much marketing help these days (unless you're a big name), I really don't see the advantage of getting traditionally published right now. Going independent is a better option for the vast majority of writers--IF you do your homework!
Doug on 02 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill: Don't know about fiction but in science writing, editing can make a huge difference - who does that in the self publishing system ?
Only a hill - on 02 Feb 2013
In reply to Doug:
Some people try to get away without editing, but it's a bad plan--the goal of self publishing should be to make everything as professional as you possibly can (otherwise there's no point; readers can tell if you've cut corners!) I contacted a professional editor to proofread my work.
omerta on 02 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:

I've done some freelance writing over the years, magazines and web copy in the main. One time I got commissioned because I was posting on a financial forum and an editor of a financial magazine read my post, thought I wrote well and offered me a piece. It really *can* be that random. You can do it as a hobby job but to turn anything like that into a full-time career, you need a lot of passion...
I like climbing - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:
The book business is on the floor. It does not embrace change.......self publishing is generally the way forward.
pineapple - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:
I appreciate the input, but I'm not a writer looking to get a book published. I'm interested to know about publishing from the publishing house's point of view (from any department: editorial, rights, design, marketing etc). As I said, other publishing areas such as the magazine industry interest me too.

Omerta - Yes, I can imagine; the writing industry must be very competitive. Did you do it full-time or on the side from another job?
upordown - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:

The first thing you need to consider is whether you're interested in fiction or non-fiction publishing. I can't comment on the fiction side except to say beware of the 'glamour' that is sometimes associated with this - unless you're a senior publisher working with famous authors I doubt that it's as glossy and exciting as it might appear.

I work in production for a non-fiction publisher. The department I work in is responsible for getting books typeset and printed. Publishing is experiencing huge changes at the moment and non-fiction publishers are having to reappraise how they provide content. It used to be that the book was the main product and the purchaser would get additional stuff by buying the book e.g. access to a website or (as this is educational publishing) additional teaching resources, etc. Things are turning around now and what the customer buys is perhaps an on-line course, on-line Q&A, etc and they might get a book as part of the supplementary package. In addition, production of books is changing, much more is being outsourced or Indian offices set up to reduce cost. I'd therefore suggest that if you want to get into publishing at your age you should avoid getting tied to actual book production or at least ensure that you can step over into eBook and app production as things go that way. I can't really comment on other roles in publishing but all of these will need to adapt to providing content electronically rather than the traditional book.

Having said all that, my experience is that publishing is generally a nice area to work in, although not particularly well paid. Good luck!
Jim C - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:
I had a pile of research that I intended to publish when I retired, I was persuaded to publish a short piece in our company magazine. Shortly after an retired employee, contacted HR and threatened to sue them for plagiarising a book he was writing.

I had to take in to HR and legal all my research into HR and label ever source to show it was freely available and not from anything that only he was able to have written, and that was done for each and every line of that piece before they were prepared to write back to him and tell him that they were prepared to defend any such action. He did not sue, and I have never seen any book published, but it was a very uncomfortable time, and has put me off thinking of publishing anything again.

Advice is ,keep very good records of all your sources, you just don't know who out there is going to come out of the woodwork and make claims.
Only a hill - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:
> (In reply to pineapple)
> I appreciate the input, but I'm not a writer looking to get a book published. I'm interested to know about publishing from the publishing house's point of view (from any department: editorial, rights, design, marketing etc). As I said, other publishing areas such as the magazine industry interest me too.

I think the writer's point of view is very relevant, to be honest, because we are the lifeblood of the publishing industry, and we are currently leaving like rats from a sinking ship. The publishing industry is undergoing its biggest transformation since the early 1800s and not a single company will be unaffected. They will adapt or they will go out of business.
nw - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
Except you are not leaving, you were never in it. There are plenty of people getting published selling books and making money. The majority who 'don't take off' will probaly not take off via the self published route either.
Publishers aren't necessary for everyone but they do possess a lot of expertise and have the resources to really make an author successful, and good editing is a LOT more than proof reading.
Tall Clare - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to nw:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
> ... and good editing is a LOT more than proof reading.

I'd agree with this (though I was the proofreader in question - I do that, copyediting, copywriting, but I'm *not* a structural editor, or the sort of editor to whom one pitches ideas and helps to form something coherent at commission stage).

Pineapple: The small press publishing sector is growing, particularly for fiction, but as everyone has already said, there's a lot more to publishing than fiction, and small presses seem to be more 'labours of love' than significant commercial concerns with clear career development opportunities.

There's a big (massive!) academic publishing house based near me - a look at their website gives a sense of the roles involved, which are many and varied. They seem to recruit pretty regularly too: http://careers.emeraldinsight.com/

A couple of people on here who might be useful to talk to are Tony, who is, if I remember rightly, a commissioning editor in academic publishing, and Ericoides, who also works in publishing but I can't remember what bit.

Only a hill - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to nw:
I don't disagree with you--clearly some authors find success the traditional way. The odds are however astronomical, and I think taking charge of your career and self-publishing is now a better option for most writers. It's still hard work but at least you get a lot more control over your own career.

I wouldn't accept a publishing contract now if one was offered to me.
In reply to Only a hill:

> I wouldn't accept a publishing contract now if one was offered to me.

Is writing now your living? I'm interested in how people who don't have any other salary and write do it - the traditional way with a publisher who backs them or self publishing and getting an income stream that way?

It was interesting to read Kirkpatrick recently writing about going back to being a gear rep of some type because he couldn't make a living just as a writer, despite having a number of well received books.

Only a hill - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
>
> [...]
>
> Is writing now your living? I'm interested in how people who don't have any other salary and write do it - the traditional way with a publisher who backs them or self publishing and getting an income stream that way?

That's a good question, to which the answer is--both!

Although I don't have any figures to back it up, anecdotal evidence suggests that the vast majority of published authors (of both kinds) don't make a living doing it (I have a day job to support myself, for example). You have to be a bestseller--and sustain that level of success over the long term--to be financially self-sufficient through writing alone. Most writers don't have any serious expectations of being able to support themselves through their books.

Most traditionally published books sell very badly and don't last long. That's one reason why it's becoming increasingly difficult to publish a book the old fashioned way.

However, I know quite a few indie authors who make a living via self publishing. It's certainly possible if your books are genuinely very good (and you have written a lot of them!)
Only a hill - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
P.S. Should add, most self published books also sell pretty badly--but at least you get the chance for your book to reach its audience without failing at the first hurdle. After all, the vast majority of submissions to agents and publishing houses get chucked straight in the bin.
Tall Clare - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

To perpetuate the threadjack (sorry Pineapple!) I think self-publishing is akin to online dating - there's a lingering perception that it's only for the desperate, whereas in reality it's not that unusual nowadays.
subalpine - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill: you need to ticket Everest or somesuch..
ads.ukclimbing.com
pineapple - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
> I do that, copyediting, copywriting

I would LOVE to be employed in this area! I'm just not sure if I'm skilled enough. What sort of texts do you proofread? Do you work with books, magazines, online or something else? Did you do any particular training to get your job? Also, what is the competition like for your sort of work in the industry?

Sorry for all the questions...

Thanks for all the other information you give, it's all really helpful.
Tall Clare - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:

I'll PM you a bit later, explaining all - off for my dinner now :-)
Wiley Coyote - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:

Forty odd years full time in the industry what exactly is it you want to know?
Tall Clare - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Wiley Coyote:

Pineapple - this man knows his stuff!
Wiley Coyote - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Jim C:
> (In reply to pineapple)
> threatened to sue them for plagiarising a book he was writing.
>
> Did he explain hoipw you had managed to plagarise a book that was still being written and, so presumably, not yet published? Did he think you were hacking his computer or something?
Wiley Coyote - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

You're too kind, Clare
pineapple - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
> (In reply to pineapple)
>
> I'll PM you a bit later, explaining all

Wow, that would be great if you have the time. Thank you :)
subalpine - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple: i could recommend a great test for a copy editor, but it would be too incriminating..
Tall Clare - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to subalpine:
> (In reply to pineapple) i could recommend a great test for a copy editor, but it would be too incriminating..

If that's a dig at me, I'll happily own up to being guilty of making shocking errors in my forum posts. Doesn't mean I get it wrong when I'm working for clients...
pineapple - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to Wiley Coyote:
> (In reply to pineapple)
>
> Forty odd years full time in the industry what exactly is it you want to know?

Woah, with forty years you really must know your stuff! What role do you have and what sort of things does your company publish?

I have no experience of working in the publishing industry and am currently employed in something completely different, although I am studying an English Literature course with the OU at present.

I have recently been researching as much as I can into the industry, and what I have discovered so far has definitely increased my interest, especially in editorial (I know almost everyone wants to do editorial...) and, more specifically, proofreading.

I have always been very much into grammar and style. I find it extremely interesting, but I don't know everything (yet!) and therefore don't know if I would have any chance of being considered for a job as a proofreader or something of the sort.

To be honest any information on this area of work would be fantastic (and any tips on how to get into the industry would be a bonus). I am taking a three month break from work in about two months and I was thinking of approaching various London publishing houses (big and small, all genres - and not just those in the book trade) for work experience, with a view to getting as much experience under my belt as possible and also see if it really is something I would like to do.

Any tips or pointers in the right direction would be wonderful. Thanks for your time :)
omerta on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:

I did it from another job, but because of the nature of that job, I had to disclose that I was writing as a sideline and that pretty much snuffed it out for me
pineapple - on 03 Feb 2013
In reply to omerta:
> (In reply to pineapple)
>
> I did it from another job, but because of the nature of that job, I had to disclose that I was writing as a sideline and that pretty much snuffed it out for me

Oh, what a shame! Was it a clash of interests with your main job? I'm sorry you had to stop :(

Helen R on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:

I trained as an copyeditor for specialist academic stuff, and went into it after lots of study and working in that area. I managed academic publications for various types of publisher and organisations. I've recently left the industry for better future career options (including, eventually i hope, better pay). I still do a bit of freelance proofreading to help with the mortgage. I wouldn't choose to go into publishing at the moment.

Trying to get work experience or shadowing is certainly a good idea to see if you like the day to day stuff.

If text editing and proofreading is what you think you want to do, have a look at the society for proofreaders and editors for some info (www.sfep.org.uk)

HR
seankenny - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
>After all, the vast majority of submissions to agents and publishing houses get chucked straight in the bin.

Isn't there a good reason for this?
pineapple - on 04 Feb 2013
In reply to Helen R:

Thank you for your insight :) When you say 'after lots of study and working in that area', do you mean working actually in the specialist academic area which you then went on to write about?
Helen R on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to pineapple:
Yep - i did a PhD and worked in the area for a couple of years after that. But I edited rather than wrote and by edited i mean edited, proofread, fact-checked, reviewed content, coordinated, managed, commissioned, marketed and a lot else.

Good luck

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