Although it was not in the original list of companies offering placements, when we were told Witherby Publishing Group had open a placement position, I decided to do a little research and I was immediately attracted by this publishing house. Witherby Publishing Group is the oldest publisher in the English language, established in London back in 1740. In 2005 they entered into a joint venture with the Scottish company Seamanship International Ltd and since then they have been based in Livingston. They have found their niche market in marine technical, operational and regulatory publishing.
Because publishing is much more than fiction, I found the idea of working, even for a few weeks, with a technical publisher was really appealing. However, I must confess that I was somehow concerned about my lack of knowledge of the shipping industry and boats in general. That fear disappeared when I stepped into the office. All the staff was very welcoming and they were kind and willing to help me and answer any questions had. In fact, since I did my placement I have found myself reading all the news related to shipping, vessels and the maritime world in general with special attention.
When you work in a niche market, everything is done in a different way from traditional or trade publishers. The marketing efforts are more targeted, royalties and permissions change drastically and even the editorial line has nothing to do with what we may be used to. However, during my placement at Witherby, I was very lucky and I had the opportunity to enjoy a very complete learning experience, in which I could work with and observe the duties of almost every department in the company, such as editorial, marketing, rights, finance, sales, warehouse, graphic design or IT. This allowed me to carry out many different tasks and to have a real insight into the work flow of this publishing house. Among the things I did during these 5 weeks, I highlight editing, proofreading, doing précis of reports, researching topics, writing articles and creating publishing agreements. I also remember one of the first things I could see was the big warehouse where they keep around half a million books. They process their own orders and it was very interesting to see how this system works. In addition, they have an interest in digital formats, and for that reason they have created an e-reader platform for their e-books.
My stay at Witherby was full of great moments I really enjoyed and it made me discover a whole new side of the publishing industry in which I would like to work in the future. Summarizing what we have been hearing in many lectures and professional conferences this year: if you want to be successful, find a gap in the market and fill it; the future of printed books is, most likely, in the niche markets.