Amy Wong is a production controller at Bloomsbury Publishing. You can follow her on Twitter (@_amywong).
What do you do?
My job is all about working with other departments and external suppliers (such as printers). I have to make sure that books get made on time, stay within budget and are produced to a high standard. This includes costing and scheduling titles, arranging for manuscripts to be typeset, checking files and sending them to a printer to be turned into a physical book. I work on a mixture of adult fiction and non-fiction titles.
I’m also the Membership Secretary for the Society of Young Publishers, which supports people in the first ten years of their publishing career or who are trying to break into the industry. I maintain the Society’s membership records and answer general queries.
How did you get into publishing?
When I was at university, I attended the London Book Fair and the Festival of Publishing as part of a scheme run by New Writing North and Inpress Books. These events helped me learn more about the industry and confirmed that publishing was the right career path for me. Afterwards, I did work experience and internships at three different publishers before landing my first job as an Editorial and Production Assistant at Sweet Cherry Publishing, an independent children’s publisher based in Leicester.
My involvement with the student newspaper Nouse definitely helped me stand out when I was applying for jobs. It proved that I could work with others, prioritise tasks effectively and solve problems amongst other things. Never underestimate the value of transferable skills gained through non-publishing experience!
How has the industry changed since then?
There’s been an increased awareness in the need for regional diversity. It was great to hear about Hachette’s plans earlier this month to open a Manchester office. And last year’s Orion on Tour event series, which included a school visit in Birmingham, was a fantastic idea. However, it’s essential not to overlook the work done by smaller independent publishers such as And Other Stories, Dead Ink and Comma Press – for example, the establishment of the Northern Fiction Alliance. While we’re not quite there yet, it’s promising to see that we’re heading in the right direction.
What is your boldest prediction for publishing in 2030?
It would be fantastic if salary transparency, especially for entry-level roles, was the norm by then!
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
Frequent overtime isn’t a sign of dedication or passion; it’s a sign that there’s a problem with your workload.
What skills have helped you get ahead?
My curiosity and willingness to take on new challenges – it’s the best way to learn.
Have you been mentored and, if so, how has it supported your career progression?
I’ve never been mentored formally. Still, I will be forever grateful for my former manager Cecilia. She has been a continual source of support and guidance, even though I don’t work with her anymore. She’s been an invaluable sounding board for when I’ve needed help reviewing my long-term career goals. And has helped me work out the best way to handle tough situations when I’ve needed the perspective of an objective outsider.
Why do you love working in publishing?
I know it’s a cliché but because I love books! I love that books have the power to inspire readers and start meaningful conversations – and there’s something magical about getting lost in a good story. It’s also exciting to be a part of an industry that’s continuously evolving.