I know I can’t have been the only one who quietly smiled and rolled their eyes during our induction week when we were told that we will most likely come out of this Publishing MSc with a desire to do anything but editorial work. Pfft, thought I, no chance. I like correcting people far too much to consider a job outside of editing someone else’s writing (a character trait that may not fly socially, but arguably makes for great copy…)!
Alas, I was wrong — although thankfully not at the expense of my fondness for proofreading and copy editing. Rather, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for clever and creative design as we’ve learnt how to competently use Photoshop and InDesign (which, let me tell you, is far more thrilling than correcting a text’s passive voice — who knew?!). I’m not saying my desire to pursue editorial work has been squashed — it’s something I hope to continue doing at least on a freelance basis now that I have contacts and editorial experience with two publishing houses — but I now also hope to build and improve my design portfolio, giving me the opportunity to engage with books and magazines on more than just one level.
During the summers of my undergrad, I interned at the Banner of Truth (a Christian publisher of Reformed and Puritan Books), and it was here that I returned as a part-time Editorial Assistant back in September. My duties have been quite varied from proofreading to typsetting, to indexing and copy editing, giving me a great overview of all the different areas an editorial department oversees.
Working at a publishers alongside my studies has truly aided my learning as I have been able to apply the majority of techniques and skills taught in class to my work at the Banner. Learning the BSI proofreading marks have enabled me to proofread and annotate texts at a greater speed without compromising on accuracy, and my now competent use of InDesign has helped me grow in confidence regarding the type of tasks I feel capable to take on.
As a result, after a few months I felt confident to take on work as a freelance proofreader for a small publishing house up in Tain. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the work, it did wake me up to the importance of scheduling and diary planning. Doing a full time masters alongside two part-time jobs, planning a wedding (which is arguably a part-time job in and of itself!), and being a part of two committees outside of University, one of which involves me organising an annual weekend retreat for 90+ people, makes for a very busy (and often sleepy) Sarah! Because of my schedule, I unfortunately had to make the decision to step down from the Napier Big Read committee in February, as I felt I couldn’t dedicate the time required to fulfil my role to a high enough standard. Whilst this was disappointing at the time, I’ve since figured out a good work/ uni/ life balance that seems to be working as my stress levels have considerably reduced! So, no regrets here!
I am incredibly thankful that my part-time editorial job can be credited as my University placement. Having been able to complete more than the required ten days of work experience, I’ve been able to properly experience the teamwork that’s required to bring a manuscript to print. I’ve learnt the paramount importance of having multiple pairs of eyes look over a manuscript prior to publishing (if you want to make sure all the paragraphs are there and the chapters are in the right order!), and I’ve seen the value of face-to-face communication between departments to avoid confusion or unnecessary delays in production. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed realising that publishing houses don’t consist of island departments, and that both productivity and job satisfaction can be achieved through effective collaboration.
Whilst my current part-time role is not design orientated, I am aware of the company’s potential need for someone in-house with design capabilities. Whether there is a full-time design position available at the Banner or not, I plan to put together a design portfolio, consisting of the projects I have undertaken during this postgraduate course, to demonstrate my skills and style to potential future employers. Thankfully, my workplace has kindly enrolled me on the LinkedIn Learning platform, where I am able to watch design and software tutorials to enhance my skill set and become more of an asset to the company.
Working in the industry alongside my studies has made me so thankful that I applied to the course. Hindsight has shown and is showing me how good it was that I saw the need for a radical shift in my career, in order to work in an industry that I don’t have to feign a passion for. I just love books, ok?!