What is it Like to Work at Yale University Press London?

Are you curious about working in publishing? Work in Publishing Week is a national campaign to inspire young people aged 14-24 to pursue a career in publishing.

In this post, so you can see what it’s like to work at a university press, Yale University Press London staff have described their roles and how they started their career in publishing.

Stephanie Lee, Publicity Assistant

As a Publicity Assistant, my role is to support the publicity team with their campaigns, manage the London office prize submissions and secure press coverage and events for the titles I am handling. Before Yale, I worked as a Publicity Assistant and a Communications Assistant at Penguin Random House on a temporary contract. These roles stemmed from taking part in a work experience scheme at Penguin Random House, where I was offered the opportunity to shadow Vintage’s marketing and publicity team. This gave me insight into how dynamic and fast-paced the department could be and encouraged me to pursue my current position. The best part of this role is how varied the work I do each day is to connect readers to books from such an abundance of subject areas.  

Percie Edgeler, Production Executive

Production is a creative and logical side of publishing, where you use a wide variety of skills. It’s rare that any two days are the same. 

Percie practising Photoshop circa 2009

As well as needing a good knowledge of design processes like typography and artwork composition, you also rely heavily on keeping up to date with technology and have strong mathematics skills for costing what you want to achieve. This is a good area to go into if you’re organised, have a keen eye for detail, and are interested in seeing a book through from start to finish at every stage of its creation. It also occasionally requires a bit of detective work to problem solve with older books in particular where things may not be quite as straightforward!

Production teams function as the schedule keepers for any publishing business, but dependent on the press other roles can intersect with this. For example at Yale, I do the interior type design for books; but then also manage our reprints programme, our UK ebooks, and commission freelancers for our cartography and reprographics. This means working closely with design and editorial in particular to achieve the right look and feel for a book, but also being very involved with our printers.  

I was always interested in publishing as a ‘bookish’ person, but I got started in publishing from my BA in Illustration, where I did an outside project with Four Corners Books. After finishing my degree I worked as a designer and illustrator, but decided to return to university and did an MA in Publishing at Kingston University, where we were actively encouraged to get experience alongside the course. I interned for six months at Faber and Faber and built on my experience from there. I’m incredibly grateful for all I learned along the way, but would be keen to emphasise an MA isn’t the only way into publishing and production in particular is very reliant on skills you can develop outside of formal higher education. I learnt to use photoshop as a teenager making memes and how colour tones work in digital and print formats from coding my MySpace page around the same period, but that’s been invaluable in developing my skills in image correction and print production. If you know how to use InDesign and Photoshop, keep an immaculate planner and are interested to continue learning as you work, you would be a great fit!

Tanu Shelar, Academic and Community Marketing Assistant

My work can be divided into these; Research, Create, Share, Analyse, Improve and Repeat!

I focus on academic titles and backlist. I research and get in touch with people who are ‘the most right’ for the book. We then collaborate to promote the book by setting up events and book reviews. I create newsletters, online and print ads using InDesign and Photoshop to promote these events and other exciting author content. I then share them across our marketing channels; website, newsletters and social media. To update the website, I use some coding and CRM. Then, I analyse the performance of our output; who visits us? which book is performing better than others? where do our customers come from and what do they look at on our channels? This process is continuous and evolves with feedback.

Thanks to my workplace, I also have a lot of opportunities to train and attend useful publishing conferences. I absolutely love my role; reaching out to audiences, designing elements of our beautiful covers and analysing intriguing data. If you like people and data, this role is for you!

Alice Blows, Picture Researcher, Pevsner Guides

My role is Picture Researcher for the Pevsner Guides and, where needed, for the Art and Architecture books. The Pevsner department comprises the two editors, the production editor and myself. The Pevsner Architectural Guides were begun in 1951 by the architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner with the aim of providing an up-to-date guide to the most significant buildings in England and later Scotland, Wales and Ireland. My job is to obtain the illustrative material for the volumes which includes commissioning new photography and maps and scouring archives and libraries for primary visual sources such as drawings and plans. This involves working closely with the authors and editors to coordinate images that further enhance an understanding of the text and with the production editor to ensure all is kept to schedule and prepared for layout.

Olivia Willis, Rights Manager

I manage the foreign rights department. We sell the right to translate and produce local english language editions to other publishers around the world. This is an important part of Yale University Press’ mission, as it enables our books to be read in other languages, and therefore reach entirely new audiences. One of the best things about working in Foreign Rights is developing relationships with people from other countries and cultures. You get to work across a wide range of titles, so I constantly find myself being exposed to new, interesting subjects. I also find it very satisfying making deals, to try and ensure the best possible home for our books. I have actually worked at Yale for the last 7 years, having started out my career in publishing in a part time role on reception here. 

Julie Hrischeva, Editor, Art and Architecture

I am a Project Editor at Yale, involved in all aspects of our books’ production ahead of them going to press. This includes working with authors on the content of their books, refining the text and the image selection, while briefing our copy editors and designers on each project. I work closely with our marketing department, and with our head of production on the more technical side of things. My favourite aspects of the job include my close engagement with our authors and with the content of each book. Working on the books’ covers and interiors with our designers is also a lot of fun! While some of the more detailed aspects of the job are less creative (proofreading and text corrections in InDesign), they are rewarding and crucial to the overall quality of the book. I started out with a BA in illustration before doing an editorial internship at an art publisher and working at different art magazines. I then did an MA in art history and moved into academic publishing, and eventually, my current role in the art department at Yale, which combines my practical and academic interests and experience.

Joanna Godfrey, Commissioning Editor

As Commissioning Editor, my role is to find new projects for our lists in modern history and current affairs. We take submissions from agents, and directly from authors, but I really enjoy seeking out and commissioning new writers. At Yale we’re looking for authors who are doing exciting and original research but who can communicate in an accessible way to a wide audience of general readers – I’m always looking for up-and-coming scholars who can make that jump.

My days are really varied – I might be having an initial meeting with an author (via zoom currently!) to chat about an idea, negotiating contract terms, preparing a sales conference presentation, editing draft chapters, listening to audiobook samples, proofing jacket copy or any number of other tasks. I work closely with Katie, our editorial assistant, as well as with other members of the editorial team and colleagues in all other departments. 

Emma Arnolda, Finance Director

As Finance Director I’m responsible for: leading and managing the Finance Department including development of staff, systems, processes and controls to optimise financial performance and compliance; I work closely with the MD and Senior Management to provide financial insight to support key strategic and operational decisions; and I’m responsible for the production of timely and accurate financial information, including management accounts, year-end accounts, sales reports, budgets and forecasts and other analysis.

Publishing presents its own unique challenges in terms of accounting having to get to grips with royalties, contracts, stock, returns and keeping accurate costings in relation to all books in production. If you are considering a career in finance then publishing is a fascinating place to start and vice versa.

Heather McCallum, Managing Director

I am very privileged to be the Managing Director of Yale University Press London.

My role involves directing, in concert with the senior leadership team and aligned with the Press in New Haven, the overall strategy for the company which takes in its publishing, sales goals and overall financial health .  Day to day I am very involved with staff and managerial issues, governance and practical matters.  I am also the Publisher for the Press and for that part of my job I contribute by commissioning between 10 and 20 new books per year, primarily in the field of History.

I started as an Editorial Assistant for Routledge, which was a wonderful opportunity, and I have always worked in editorial roles in Trade, Academic and Educational publishing, mostly Humanities and Social Sciences.  As a Commissioning Editor, my favourite part of the job is having a good idea for a book with a market and developing it with an author; I also love the fruitfulness of long term relationships with authors.  Success is a huge motivator and it’s tremendous to see an author’s work rewarded with sales, prizes, great reviews, attention.  I’m very interested in the mechanics of sustainable, profitable publishing and the mix required to achieve that be it by book, list, sector or entire company. The huge changes in the industry at the moment present terrific opportunities.

I’ve always been lucky to work on books that I’m proud of, that I think are real contributions.  The value and values of publishing across the entire spectrum are, in the words of the cliché, what get me up in the morning and what excite me.

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