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Tag: publishing

Publishing and the five competitive forces

Michael E. Porter is a management writer and thinker, whose most famous essay is The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy. I finally read this essay a couple of weeks ago, and it was natural while reading to think about how the five forces relate to publishing. Here’s what I think.

Business

A SWOT analysis of publishing

If someone was considering (trade) publishing as a career, what might they take into account?

Note that some of these points are based on my best guesses, so if you’re here because you’ve got a job offer, do do your own research into a company as they might have very different policies and culture. I know all of this hasn’t always applied to the companies I’ve worked at.

Business

The cult of the editor

Most people who want to work in publishing dream of being an editor (I was one of them, too). In the minds of most people, editorship is wrapped in an aura of prestige, sophistication, importance and exclusivity. Editors are tastemakers, gatekeepers, discoverers and improvers of great literature, confidantes of authors and sometimes courageous revelators of truths.

Some of this has echoes in my job as a commissioning editor, but real work is more mundane: mostly project management and email! I’ve written about a typical ‘day in the life’ here. But the ideal and its associated expectations persist, and can affect how the whole publishing company operates, if not challenged. In fact, I think the Cult of the Editor is at work in most companies.

Business

The amazing self-publishing book

The Bookseller says that self-publishing has surpassed ebooks as Public Enemy #1 (so it must be true). It’s the spinning jenny of publishing – I expect pretty soon we’ll all be on the street with signs saying ‘will proofread for food’.

However – the self-publishing revolution may not be all bad news. Consider the following.

Business

A day in the life of a commissioning editor

When I was looking to get into publishing, I had only a very fuzzy notion of what you actually did when you were ‘in publishing’, let alone what more specific roles such as commissioning editors did every day. Now I know it’s mostly email – no, just kidding. There’s a fair bit of attending meetings, too! Here’s an account of a typical day.

Careers

Insights for publishers from a Marketing course

I’ve signed up to do a No-Pay MBA in the next couple of years – a self-taught equivalent of a traditional business degree using massive open online courses (MOOCs). I was inspired by the founder of the No-Pay MBA network, Laurie Pickard, who has actually done it – here’s an article about her in the FT.

I’ve just started my first course, which is Introduction to Marketing from the Wharton business school of the University of Pennsylvania, and wanted to share something interesting.

Business

Real questions from editorial job interviews

Allen_Ludden_Jack_Klugman_Tony_Randall_Odd_Couple_1I’ve been to a fair few job interviews in the past 4 years for jobs ranging from Editorial Assistant to Commissioning Editor. Afterwards, I wrote down as many of the questions I was asked as I could remember. Some of the interviews were more conversational than others, so there were fewer questions. I haven’t included my answers, because a) I didn’t write them down at the time, and b) I didn’t get most of these jobs so they would probably not be that useful! :P

The interviews I had were all at well-known trade publishing houses in London. I hope this will be helpful for people who are preparing for similar interviews!

Careers

To publish good books or profitable books, that is not the question

Last weekend I went to a party with some non-publishing folk, which is a rare occurrence and never fails to make me feel like a circus animal. People ask you what you do, and then exclaim ‘How exciting!’ and ‘That must be interesting!’, and then ask you uncomfortable questions you don’t have the answer to. Like, ‘Do you think publishers should publish books that make money or books that are good?’ This actually happened, and after only about a minute of warm-up. Hardly fair.

I said on instinct that I thought the former, but then they turned the screws on me and we ended up agreeing on a compromise: Publishing profitable books allows publishers to publish good books, so they should publish both. But now that I’ve given it some more thought I would like to go back to my earlier, less forgiving view. See, a couple of things nagged at me about the compromise…

Business