If you’re interested in the publishing industry or simply want to have a closer look at Oxford University Press South Africa – look no further than our recurring Editorial Profile feature.
Editorial Profiles are brief Q & A sessions with our Editorial team which aim to give insight into the mechanics of the Publishing industry, shed light on what it takes to be part of the Editorial team for Oxford University Press South Africa, and give expert advice to anybody interested in joining the world of Higher Education publishing in South Africa.
Q: How did you find yourself following a career in publishing?
I’ve always wanted to be part of the process of making books. Even as a child I would ‘make’ my own little books. So I knew, from a very young age, that this was something I wanted to pursue. I was offered an internship in 2011 through the Publisher’s Association of South Africa and was placed at Pearson, in their School’s division. After completing my internship at Pearson, I was offered a permanent position in their School’s division and I worked at Pearson until early 2014 when I accepted the position of Development Editor in the Higher Education division at Oxford University Press SA.
Q: Describe your work day. What does your job entail?
The biggest part of my work day usually consists of developing manuscripts. This can be a very time consuming task as you have to carefully work through individual chapters as well as the manuscript as a whole. You have to ensure that the content is presented in a logical manner, and that it is pitched at a level which makes it easy for the student to understand. You also have to ensure that you address the needs of the lecturer. Seeing as there are often multiple authors writing on one book, you have to ensure that there is consistency with regards to voice and style. The development process also entails a great deal of research in terms of ensuring accuracy of the content, as well as ensuring that the content is up to date. It also often entails finding new and relevant content to our market.
Market research and user feedback also form an important part of the job. It is often necessary to conduct market research to understand whether there is a market for a specific new book, or publishing area. It is also important to understand changes in our market and to keep track of these changes, and how it might affect us. Obtaining user feedback on our books is vital in terms of understanding whether our content addresses the needs of the market and how we can further improve.
There is also a fair amount of administrative tasks and general project management to be done.
Q: What key traits do you think make a great editor?
- Attention to detail
- Ability to research complex concepts
- Ability to read and interpret content quickly
- Ability to rewrite complex content in a manner which is easy to understand
- Good interpersonal skills – you need to be able to build relationships with authors
- Ability to communicate clearly
- Good organisational skills
- Good project management skills
- Ability to interpret market feedback
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face when completing your daily tasks?
Ensuring that we receive the manuscript from authors in a timely manner which will allow us enough time to develop the content.
Different manuscripts present different challenges and you often have to spend a great deal of time on certain chapters in order to ensure that the content is structured in a logical manner, at the appropriate complexity level and that it addresses the needs of the students and lecturers.
Q: What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy developing manuscripts and working with the content. It provides you with an opportunity to explore many interesting and diverse subjects. I also enjoy working with the authors to ensure we provide students with the best possible content to support their learning.
Q: What advice would give to someone considering a career in Publishing?
Completing courses in editing, proofreading and general project management will definitely be beneficial. Read as much as you can, and read as widely as you can. Look for an opportunity to job shadow someone who works in the Publishing Industry and apply for internships, if they are available.
Q: What additional support does an editor offer their author, and why is this important?
We work with authors during the writing process to ensure that their content is structured logically, accurately and that it is at the correct complexity level. We also often provide authors with information regarding interesting sources they can use for examples, case studies, questions etc.
Q: What would you say is the most rewarding part of the editorial process?
Seeing the finished product and receiving feedback from lecturers and students regarding the books. It is always wonderful and rewarding to receive positive feedback. However, you learn a great deal from constructive criticism and it motivates you to be better and work harder.
Q: On a personal note, what is your favourite book and why?
There are way too many to choose from and I am definitely running out of bookshelves at home, but if I have to choose one it will be: The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. It is a beautiful book with wonderful messages. I also love the fact that the length of the book (it is rather short) allows you to read it multiple times and in-between reading other books.