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Career Spotlight: Taylor & Francis

Career Spotlight: Taylor & Francis

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Ben Denne, Editorial Director, Humanities, Media & Arts Books, Taylor & Francis

I am currently the Editorial director for Humanities, Media and Arts Books at Taylor & Francis. I manage a team of commissioning editors who are signing books across all of the subjects within these fields. The breadth of the subjects and markets my team covers is enormous, so the job is uniquely diverse and there is always something interesting going on!  

What made you decide to go into publishing?

I love books, and I enjoy working with people very much. Publishing is a people-focussed business, and one full of fascinating and intelligent individuals. This combination attracted me.

Why did you choose to go into academic publishing specifically?

The choice of disciplines you can work in is very attractive-there is no other industry that gives you access to, and insight into, so many different fascinating subjects. Also, the academic disciplines are always evolving, making academic publishing a dynamic field to work in.

What does your typical day look like?

There is no typical day! That’s what makes the job so interesting. You never know what opportunities or challenges are going to come up next.

What tips do you have for anyone wanting to enter the industry?

You have to like working with others. Good interpersonal skills, excellent listening skills and a flexible and open mind are all essential assets for good editors.

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Jodie Perry, Books Production Editorial Manager, Taylor & Francis

I am responsible for seven Production Editors producing 500 new titles a year across our UK and US Education lists, published under the Routledge imprint. Our role is to guide the production of titles from the raw manuscript through to the final printed and eBook publication. Our unique Production department of 132 members of staff produce more than 5000 new books annually which requires efficient management at every level.

How did you get into your current role?

I joined Taylor & Francis as a Production Editor attracted by the organisational aspects of the role and the variety it offered. I took every opportunity to manage the different aspects of book production developing the technical and manufacturing skills critical to the role.

Achieving promotion to Deputy Manager of a production team allowed me to enhance people-management skills. In my current role of Production Editorial Manager, I have the opportunity to build and develop my own team and be responsible for leading performance.

What made you decide to go into publishing?

Oxford Brookes University offered a BA joint honours in Music and Publishing which supported both my creative and business interests. The course was varied, practical and business focused and provided a sound foundation for a career in publishing.

Why did you choose to go into academic publishing specifically?

I worked in trade publishing before moving to the academic sector. Taylor & Francis is a world leader in academic publishing and I wanted to build my career in a growing, global company with excellent development opportunities.

What does your typical day look like?

Varied, demanding and solution-driven. My team manage a high-volume of titles. To keep such a quantity of projects running to schedule we have to continuously manage priorities and develop improvements that allow us to not only maximise our throughput but to deliver our content to the highest standards expected by our customers.

What tips do you have for anyone wanting to enter the industry?

You can succeed in academic publishing if you’re willing to apply yourself and strive for continuous improvement. Diversity is crucial for sustainable business so, whilst it may help for placements to be sought within the publishing industry, a wide experience that demonstrates diligence and comparable competences to the role you’re applying for are just as valuable. 

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Laura Pilsworth, Editor, Medieval and Early Modern History, Taylor & Francis

My role entails commissioning new medieval and early modern textbooks for the history list. This involves a lot of research into how history is taught across the English speaking world, meeting and talking with history academics at their universities and at conferences and keeping abreast of the new and emerging fields within the discipline.

How did you get into your current role?

I did the MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes which gave me an overview of the industry, I then worked in permissions at Wiley-Blackwell and journals at T&F before seeing my dream job on the history list in books come up and I became the Editorial Assistant for the history list. Since then I’ve worked up to become the Editor for Medieval and Early Modern history, which is my particular field of interest.

What made you decide to go into publishing?

When I was at university, studying for my BA, I went to an open day about careers in publishing run by the Publishing Training centre. At the event I went to a variety of sessions run by publishing professionals from across both trade and academic publishing who talked about their roles, how they got into publishing and where they thought the publishing industry was headed. I was really inspired by the day and applied for the MA in Publishing to learn more.

Why did you choose to go into academic publishing specifically?

During my MA I did a number of placements at various publishing houses and I always enjoyed the academic placements the most. I think it is the combination of working with academics, getting to know a particular subject well and the variety of products that you can explore which sold it for me.

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day would involve looking through proposals and making a decision about which are sent out for peer review, working through my inbox, writing up projects to take to our Editorial Board for approval and meetings with colleagues from all over the company to discuss specific projects, conferences and collaboration opportunities.

What tips do you have for anyone wanting to enter the industry?

Work experience is a great way to see if publishing is a good fit for you, I’d also recommend looking at publishers websites and the Bookseller to see what vacancies they have but also what type of books they publish and what is happening in the publishing industry. It’s not essential to have a BA or MA in Publishing but I found it a great way to understand the business as a whole and to help me to decide which area I wanted to work in. I’d also suggest that it’s good to move around in publishing to see what suits you, as any publishing experience will set you up well for your dream job.