1 What is your job title and company? And roughly how many people work for your company?
I am head of sales at Liverpool University Press. We currently have 16 staff.
2 What are your qualifications and working background, and when and how did you take on your current job?
I have a BA in English and American Studies from Swansea University and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University. I started my career as a PA to the managing director and publishing director at Maney Publishing, a mid-sized publisher of 170+ journals based in Leeds. I moved in to the marketing team as a marketing assistant after six months and then over six years progressed to senior sales and marketing executive, overseeing a team of four responsible for the marketing of 111 journals in the humanities and social sciences, and I was also our UK collection sales rep. Following the sale of Maney Publishing to Taylor & Francis in 2015 I was given the opportunity to work at Liverpool University Press as head of sales.
3 What does your average working day entail?
I still live in Leeds and commute to Liverpool two days a week, working from home the other three. On an average working day I begin by checking my emails, responding to queries from colleagues and customers, diarizing any deadlines and scheduling meetings.
I have a job of two halves. Relationship management with a variety of print and ebook distributors is very structured and dictated by strict deadlines, and it means a lot of time my time is spent in spreadsheets ensuring metadata is provided correctly and on time. I also oversee the marketing of our 28 journals and am responsible for scheduling all marketing activity, ensuring campaigns and adverts are completed and delivered on time by our journals publishing assistant.
The other side—working on digital product development—is more flexible and allows me to be more creative. I think of new ways to make our book and journal content available electronically that are both sustainable and financially viable, then manage these projects from conception through to launch. That means oversight of content digitization, development of the platform, revenue budgeting, pre- and post-launch marketing planning and ensuring we meet projected sales by year-end.
4 What do you enjoy most about your job?
The variety. A small company offers the luxury of regular contact with all departments, and I enjoy working on both journals and books. I have the freedom to pursue my ideas whilst also being required to analyze a lot of data in spreadsheets, which I actually enjoy!
5 What achievements are you most proud of?
I have had the opportunity to work on large journal acquisitions and new launches that have required months of work and input from team members across departments. It is very satisfying when it all pays off, both in terms of revenue and in contributing to the company’s profile.
6 What are your biggest challenges?
The commute between Leeds and Liverpool two days a week took some getting used to. But I was committed to furthering my publishing career in the north of England—which is a challenge in itself!
7 What have you experienced in your job and publishing that you didn’t expect?
I don’t think I ever anticipated how technical aspects of my job would be. Over the years I have been required to develop a working knowledge of a variety of computer software and operating systems.
8 What is the best thing about working for an independent publisher?
I very much appreciate the sense of community amongst ourselves and other UK university presses. We all understand the challenges that face smaller academic presses and often share ideas and experiences. The University Press Redux conference in March showed that the comradery is not limited to UK presses.
Coming from a larger publisher meant tightening the purse strings when it comes to marketing expense, which makes me get my thinking cap on. I enjoy finding creative ways to make the most of in-house data, statistics and the software available to us.
9 How do you switch off from your work?
I cook a lot and love experimenting with Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisines. I am also an avid reader of ice hockey romance novels—keeping niche publishing alive from all sides!
10 What advice would you give anyone wanting to start or progress a career in publishing?
Get as much experience as you can, be patient and don’t be afraid of hard graft. My MA acted as a great introduction to the industry, but I really learnt everything I needed to on the job.