Diploma in Publishing (Applied) Graduates
I studied for the Diploma in Publishing in 2011 after a BA in English Literature and Politics and an MA in Creative Writing. Like many students who go on to the diploma directly after their degree, I was in my fifth consecutive year of study, so could easily have felt impatient to finish and graduate. But in fact, the opposite happened, and the year went by in a flash, as it was so immersive and engaging.
The distinguishing and most valuable feature of the course was its strong connections with the real people and organisations within the New Zealand publishing industry. The work placements, guest speakers and opportunities to take part in industry events and discussions were all examples of this. Although carefully organised and orchestrated, the course always felt lively and fresh; open and connected to timely events and trends happening in the wider world of publishing. I suspect it is never exactly the same two years in a row, or even for two students in the same year. There was also the definite sense that you got out what you put in, which is not a bad thing to carry with you into the ‘real world’.
Not too long after graduation, I was thrilled to start working at Te Papa Press as an Editorial and Publishing Assistant. I was with Te Papa Press for 4 years, as an Editor and eventually Senior Editor, and having an amazing time in illustrated non-fiction publishing.
In 2017, I am a Senior Production Editor at Oxford University Press, working in a team dedicated to producing the most complex and demanding of OUP’s academic and trade books. The subjects range from ancient Greek inscriptions, to the history of the English language, to popular science. I love that the skills I learned at Whitireia have taken me to such a fascinating job on the other side of the world.
I found the Whitireia Diploma in Publishing (Applied) after spending a year in a go-nowhere job at a food importation business, following the completion of my Bachelor of Arts degree in Auckland. My lightbulb moment was when I made a little booklet of recipes promoting the company’s foodstuffs. I loved the process of researching, writing, collating and editing recipes, deciding on the overall look and feel of the booklet, organising a photoshoot and digitally laying out the recipes and photographs. In my final year of study I had visited the career advisors but publishing had never been mentioned as a possible profession. So one day I came home from my job and googled ‘publishing course’. That’s how I found this publishing course. I sent in my application, had an interview via Skype and next thing I knew I was moving to Wellington. Jump forward a year and I’m nervously walking into Penguin Random House New Zealand for a 6-month internship.
What I enjoyed most about the publishing course is how different it is from a traditional Arts degree. The practicality and hands on learning was refreshing after five years of theoretical study. Don’t worry, there are textbooks, and experts will come and talk to your class. You’ll grow a little notebook of helpful advice and doodles, but before you know it, your tutors will say, ‘okay, now go make some books!’ ‘Wait, what!?’ you’ll say. On this course, you learn in the deep end of the pool. You’ll edit, proofread and typeset. You’ll organise book launches and wrestle with ebooks. It’s a completely collaborative process, so by the end of the year you’ll have made fast friends. My best advice would be to rely and confide in your tutors. They are steeped in the industry they teach and have a passion for passing on their knowledge.
I am now one of the five project editors at Penguin Random House New Zealand. We manage the production of our local list, seeing authors through the production process from raw manuscript to printed book. I’m fortunate as I work on a wonderfully wide array of genres; from children’s books, novels, cookbooks and an astonishing array of non-fiction (from spirit mediums to hilarious hunting stories). I do a little editing and proofreading, have input in the overall design, and ensure the author is kept happy and in the loop. My role is essentially to manage the author, editor, proofreader, and designer, under the guidance of a seasoned publisher, who has commissioned the book. I’m the glue that binds all these separate people together. At times a project editor needs to get lost in the minutiae — the placement of a single comma, for example. At other times, we have to step back and see the book as a whole, checking that all the components fit together and form a harmonious whole. Whitireia gave me the skills needed to work at a publishing company and fostered a sense of the industry not just as a business but as a community. I’m part of a great team of people who are all dedicated and love what they do. This is true not just of Penguin Random but of the whole industry. I feel very fortunate to be working in an industry full of people who are passionate about what they do.
In my honours year at university, I was lucky enough to take a paper called ‘Writing for Publication’. Each student was assigned a Romantic-era woman writer and a chapter to discuss her life, letters and work. Throughout our writing and publishing process, we had several fantastic guest speakers in class. One such visitor came from a local publishing house. I had been enjoying the class so much, I approached her afterwards and asked if she would give me a job once I had graduated. I told her about my grades, how I was learning so much from this paper, but she cut me off. She said, very kindly, 'I don’t hire anyone who hasn’t completed the Whitireia Publishing course.'
I applied a year later and I’m so happy I did – I don’t think I realised how much there was to learn. I’ve re-written this sentence repeatedly but there’s no way it’s not going to sound hippy and ridiculous: the biggest takeaway I learnt from this course is to be open to learning new things about yourself. So many aspects of publishing are skills you won’t have truly had the opportunity to exercise or test until you’re in that environment. I came into the course thinking, and accepting, that my biggest skill lied in marketing and I would be content working in that field if it meant I was contributing to publishing good books. I finished the course and ended up being not so terrible at other things, and enjoyed them far more than I did marketing.
I currently work as the assistant publisher at Gecko Press. My role covers a little bit of everything – book production, sales, digital marketing, publicity, ebook production, design, and a variety of administrative roles. Each of these different responsibilities has to be managed not only for New Zealand, but for our three other markets too: UK, US and Australia. We have designated distributors in each of these markets so often we will simply be supporting their efforts, but meeting deadlines for completely different international markets is certainly one of the hardest aspects of this role. On the Whitireia course you are given a level of responsibility you won’t have encountered on a university degree, not just for one book, but for multiple books that will go to production and ultimately exist in the world. I’m glad I was so swiftly rejected that day during my honours year – I couldn’t manage what I do now if it hadn’t been for this publishing course.
Isaac Snoswell graduated with the Diploma in Publishing (Applied) in 2014 and was given an internship at South Pacific Press.
Everyone knows that the best way to prepare for a new job is to lie awake the night before and run through every possible thing that could go wrong. I hope they remember that I’m coming in. What if I forget what all the proofing marks are? What’s the rule for using commas with appositives again? What’s an appositive? Will people notice that I only have four different shirts? Thankfully, three months into my job as a publishing assistant for South Pacific Press, I can safely say that none of these concerns have proved to be true. Except for the last one. I’m still not sure about the last one.
As a publishing assistant, I have been lucky enough to get a taste of all the different stages of the publishing process. South Pacific Press is an educational publishing company with two different imprints: CSI Literacy and Lift Education. Primarily, I have been working closely with the development of CSI Literacy resources before they get dog-eared in the backpacks of children around the world. This has allowed me to use the skills that I developed during the publishing course, including editing text, working with InDesign, managing a website, and proofing a mixture of digital and print publications in their final stages of production. I have also worked on many of the iconic Lift Education resources that I can remember reading myself, from image researching for the Ready to Read series to fact-checking the latest Connected science journal.
The most rewarding part of my job has been entering the culture that South Pacific Press has created. It is a company that truly pushes the boat out in terms of the resources it develops, and everyone who works there is sincerely invested in the quality of the company’s output. Creativity and new ideas are actively encouraged, so even people who are fresh out of school and still get excited over seeing their name on a business card get to be involved in generating new content. This has allowed me to research, write, and design resources across digital and print platforms with the aim of advancing student literacy and engagement. Coming from an arts degree where everything is abstract, being able to direct all of my built-up knowledge into physical resources that will have a real impact in schools is extremely exciting. Even within three short months, I have been given room to develop agency and contribute in a capacity that I can fully invest myself in. I have started to feel the crazy energy that I could see in the many guest speakers who visited us throughout my year on the publishing course, and I am now convinced that this energy is what makes publishing so special.
Plus, at the very least, it has made the thoughts which keep me up at night a little more exciting.
The most daunting thing about working in publishing is sending something you've put hours of work into out to the world for the first time. When I was first given the project of creating a new tourism trade booklet for Weta Workshop, it was daunting to say the least. Content needed to be collated and written, images needed to be collected and approved for public use, and it needed to conform to a new set of brand guidelines I'd never worked with.
The Weta Workshop Tourism Trade Manual is a primary selling tool, both domestically and around the world, with images forming a key component. As both writer and project manager I was responsible for organising content, a photo shoot, and making sure we reached our deadline – the boss was heading away to one of New Zealand's largest tourism trade shows and the booklet would take pride of place. Thankfully, working in the same building as some of the world's best photographers and designers meant that help was readily available. The amazing assistance of our designer Monique, photographer Steve, and the legendary team at Kinetic Printing meant that the project came together brilliantly (and on time!).
Steph Soper graduated with the Diploma in Publishing (Applied) in 2012 and was awarded an internship at Hachette, and is now at the New Zealand Book Council.
Like most people, I started the Diploma in Publishing wanting to be a fiction editor. It was editing or nothing. No way was I touching marketing and sales. Those were soulless, bean-counting jobs and I was not that person. I was creative. I loved the English language. I loved words. Yes, editing was definitely for me! Much to my surprise, as the year went on I realised I didn’t enjoy editing as much as I thought I would. I wanted to be creative, innovative. I wanted to tell people about the brilliant books and publishers that were out there. And then I clicked – that’s what marketing is! When you boil it down, marketing is really about telling a great story. The story of your company, the story of your product.
Since finishing the course in 2012, I’ve worked in various publicity, marketing and sales roles at Hachette NZ, Headline UK, and Random House NZ. Although I like publicity and sales, marketing is definitely my chief passion. My favourite project to date was developing a successful digital marketing and social media strategy for Hachette NZ.
Recently, at South Pacific Press, I marketed their two imprints – Lift Education and CSI Literacy. In my role as marketer, I developing and implementing marketing strategies, providing support in forecasting budgets and marketing requirements, promoting company products and services, managing the CSI Literacy rep force, managing both company websites, managing all social media channels, and communicating and liaising with external providers, business partners, clients and customers.
Marie Hodgkinson graduated with the Diploma in Publishing (Applied) in 2012, and recently started work as the publishing coordinator at the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Of all the places I thought my Whitireia training would take me, science journal publishing would have been pretty far down the list – if it was on the list at all. With a background in English Lit and Classics, science publishing just wasn’t on my radar.
Nevertheless, three months ago I found myself moving into a new job as publishing coordinator at the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ).
‘Publishing coordinator’ as a job title paints a broad brush, and while I’ve only been in the job a few months, so far that’s a good reflection of what I’ve been doing. I’m the first point of contact for each of the thousand-odd submissions that we receive each year, and the last point of contact before the refereed and revised manuscripts are sent to our third-party production team at Taylor & Francis. I proof text, edit figures and photos, liaise with authors and editors, check image permissions, create posters for conferences, run reports, train users in our manuscript submission software – whatever needs doing, whenever it needs to be done.
As with many publishing departments in this country, the in-house publishing team at RSNZ is small – there are just two of us. The colleagues with whom we work most closely are scattered around the globe: senior and associate editors, and the occasional freelance copy editor or designer. RSNZ runs a portfolio of eight journals and with between four and twelve editors per journal, keeping a running tab on who is where can be taxing: Why hasn’t X responded to my email yet? Oh, yes, she’s doing field work in Laos with no internet connection, and so on.
I might not have a background in science, but I’m definitely enjoying the challenge of putting my project management and editing skills to use in an unfamiliar field, and the opportunity to use my other skills as needed.
I studied the graduate certificate in editing during 2014 and found it incredibly valuable. It taught me the theory behind what I intrinsically knew about grammar but didn’t have the knowledge to support. I found learning about writing for different media helpful, in particular the information relating to website writing.
Paula Wagemaker was my tutor, and she took a nurturing approach that gave me invaluable feedback while allowing my own style to emerge. I will never be able to thank her enough! Being able to help edit a book that was going to be published was fabulous, and the contacts the course has with the industry help both its content and credibility. It was a bonus to go to the book launch as well.
This qualification helped me get back into the workforce after a ten-year hiatus being at home with children, and I was pleased to see how highly valued the course is.
I now work as a strategic communications and engagement advisor at Otago Regional Council, and a core part of my role is writing materials for different audiences and using different media. I often refer to the course textbooks to help clarify a grammar query, and I have some interesting debates about the evolution of language with my colleagues (which is slightly geeky, but it’s great being around like-minded people who know when to use ‘which’ instead of ‘that’!). work with someone who also did this course, and she has also found it valuable in her career path. For anyone involved in writing and editing in their career, the knowledge and qualification gained at Whitireia is well worth the investment.
For years I was uncertain how to turn my love of language and books into a career. First I was going to travel and teach English as a second language and then I decided I would be a high school English teacher. Both options appealed to me, but they didn’t excite me. It wasn't until halfway through my second year at university, when a friend told me about the publishing course at Whitireia, that I knew I’d found what I wanted to do. She told me all about how the course was taught, how everyone went on placements to great publishing houses in the country and how the selection process for entry was really competitive. It sounded perfect. What better course to take than one where you learn everything you need to know by actually publishing books with a select group of people who are just as passionate as you are.
So for two years I worked my butt off to complete my degrees and get accepted into the publishing programme – and boy did it pay off. From hand-making journals on the very first day of class through to working with cover designers and editing a novel about an Assyrian family’s struggles in Iraq, the publishing course has been all I could have hoped for. Not to mention learning from some of the best publishers in the industry and getting paid in books for any voluntary work done!
This year I have gained more practical skills and knowledge than from my four years at university, made life-long friendships and had endless amounts of fun. I’ve also been lucky enough to have a part-time job at Gecko Press, get work experience at Hachette NZ, Penguin NZ and Huia Publishers – and next year I will begin an internship with Huia! The opportunities offered by the course are countless, and I’m so excited to head off into the big, wide world and start my publishing career.
My role at the Blind Foundation is that of a Digital Formats Producer in the Accessible Formats Production team. Our department is tasked with creating accessible versions of books and other documents for blind and low vision users (as allowed by Section 69 of the Copyright Act). My focus is on electronic text, which involves setting up files from publishers or scans for use by screen readers and refreshable braille devices. I also do large print production. Other types of production happening in the department include braille and audio narration.
The jobs I work on are diverse and include school textbooks, central and local government mail-outs, product manuals and novels. My job requires the written communication skills of an editor (for example, in the verbalising of images, since we strip them out of electronic text files) and the logistical skills of a designer (turning a science textbook into 24pt large print requires the juggling of content). I enjoy the varied nature of the work, and I have the pleasure of knowing that people can access information and enjoy literature because of what we do. Looking to the future, ebook production is an area we're watching with interest with regard to accessibility.
Scilla Askew graduated from the publishing course in 2010 and is now a content strategist at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
When I finished the publishing course I didn’t really know what I would do next. I was quite keen to do something webby and wordy, and something that allowed me to combine my strategic and mess-sorting skills. My first job – wrangling the content for a revamped government website – fitted that description pretty well. It was only after I finished the contract that I discovered that some of what I had been doing was called web content strategy.
Content strategy is reasonably new. It defines and then implements the why, who, what, how and when for a website. This is vital for content-heavy websites, but is also important on commercial sites where the emphasis is more on finding and creating content to attract people to the site.
Websites are unlike print publications in that they are always in editing mode. Part of the job of a content strategist (as for any good publisher or editor) is to be an advocate for the reader. This means that every aspect of the website content – navigation, structure, text, images and much more – needs to be guided by very comprehensive design, style and maintenance decisions in order to achieve coherence across hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pages. Making the website content fit for purpose can also be a bit of a challenge because you work with lots of subject-matter experts and hardly any writers.
To do this job I need many of the skills I learnt on the publishing course – ranging from all kinds of editing to relationship management. However I also need to understand what my colleagues who work on user research, web design and techie things are doing – a great way to keep on learning.
Because I live in Wellington, most of my work has been in government departments, and I’m currently working on a start-from-scratch project to replace Immigration New Zealand’s website.
Do I miss paper? A little bit, but at least I still look forward to reading a good novel.
Anne Kerslake Hendricks graduated with the Diploma in Publishing (Applied) in 2013 and soon found a role at WorkSafe New Zealand.
I’m a senior advisor in the Guidance and Standards team at WorkSafe New Zealand: New Zealand’s workplace health and safety regulator. WorkSafe New Zealand’s vision is that everyone who goes to work comes home healthy and safe. The Guidance and Standards team works with others inside and outside the organisation to transform New Zealand-wide attitudes and performance in workplace health and safety.
We write material, such as fact sheets and approved codes of practice, to help workplaces make effective decisions about health and safety. We explain WorkSafe New Zealand's perspective on current best practices and provide information that businesses can use to comply with the law.
The projects I worked on during the publishing course expanded my vocabulary at a rapid rate. I could soon talk about the Powelliphanta snail and explain the difference between harissa and harira; these days I’m learning about PPE (personal protective equipment), the difference between a risk and a hazard, and ‘talkie tooters’ (radio signalling systems used in the logging industry) – and many other things, too. I’m able to use a lot of the skills I developed on the publishing course, as my role draws on my publishing knowledge as well as my previous experience as a researcher.
I worked as a broadcast monitor after university and then I taught English in South Korea for a year. I never felt challenged or like what I was doing was really worthwhile, and that started to wear me down. Six months into the teaching contract and after a lot of soul searching I finally found the answer to the question that had kept me up many nights – what do I like enough to dedicate my career to? What would I actually be excited to get out of bed every morning to go and work on? And there it was: books. I like books. Whitireia’s publishing programme was the first step on my way to a career in the best industry in the world.
I’m the kind of person who loses interest quickly – always looking ahead and wanting to skip forward. My year on the publishing course was the first time I’d ever been so completely engaged in something that not only did I not get bored, I didn’t want the experience to end. Every day was different and challenging, and I couldn’t wait to come into class each morning. The work you do on the publishing course is real; it is not just another set of essays and hypothetical arguments like the assignments you wrote in undergrad to keep your tutors busy. I had real books in my hand by the end of the year, books that many people had put a lot of effort into and which were being released into the community to make their way as legitimate commercial products. I can’t think of anything more compelling than that.
The importance of the work placements arranged by Whitireia can’t be underestimated; they are an amazing opportunity to meet key industry people. My work placement led directly to the job I started in one week after the course finished.
In 2012 I had completed a degree in English Literature (which I adored) and a degree in Law (which I felt rather ambivalent about), and I was on my way to becoming a junior solicitor. Whitireia’s publishing course saved me from this terrible fate! I knew on day one of the course that I was right where I belonged. I was surrounded by grammar geeks, punctuation pedants, design dorks and marketing maestros, all of whom quickly became my good friends.
I began the course with a lot of rigid ideas about what sort of career I wanted, but I became much more open-minded as I was introduced to the multifarious tasks a publisher can expect to face. I particularly enjoyed working on my own project throughout the year, taking a book from manuscript to shelf.
Once I finished the course I began working as an editorial assistant at PQ Blackwell, a publishing company that works with globally recognised figures to produce beautiful books. I am excited about the years to come, in terms of my own career and with regard to the New Zealand publishing industry.
Since Jason Darwin graduated from the publishing course in 2004, he has become one of the book industry's go-to people for ebooks and digital publishing. Most recently a digital publishing architect at Learning Media, he has worked for organisations such as the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre and CWA New Media, and on his own digital projects. His work has ranged from one-off ebook projects to creating online publishing systems to make many thousands of pages of content available on the web.
Prior to enrolling in the publishing course, I had worked in print production and in commercial IT. My introduction to publishing came through working on Critic newspaper while at the University of Otago, then I moved into digital pre-press as desktop publishing was transforming the industry.
I'd always been interested in literature and the production side of publishing. Completing the publishing course seemed like an ideal way to both get a rounded education in publishing and find out about local opportunities.
Publishing is one of those fields where there's a wide range of skills and niches, and the Whitireia publishing course was a great way to be introduced to many of these. I'd always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment and achievement that comes from making ideas available to a wide audience, but recognised that if I wanted to be part of this, I needed to find out more about tools, techniques and conventions that are involved.
Two years after graduating, I founded meBooks, a company that provides ebook conversion and retail services for New Zealand publishers, and I recently developed a new open-source e-reading system, Readk.it.
After completing half a law degree, I veered off course in 2007 to follow a passion for books and editing promised by a diploma from the publishing course, only to end up right back inside legal circles as an editor for the publisher LexisNexis. The publishing course equipped me with the skills needed to work in a demanding and technical field of publishing from keeping up with fast-paced changes in the law and online content to maintaining editorial consistency over thousands of pages of intricate text in very specific subject areas.
I had an old-fashioned idea of publishing before starting the publishing course: some sepia photograph of a pile of manuscripts beside an old armchair, a pipe and maybe some whiskey, and all the time in the world to read and edit some soon-to-be masterpieces. The course proved that the real world of publishing is far more colourful. But I still got to play with that old-fashioned idea at LexisNexis, as legal publishing is populated with authors who have been in the business a long time and some things are still done the old way. Four times a day, I'd receive beautifully handwritten memos by fax with directions for updating a looseleaf text that had been the authority in land law for over 25 years. These would be followed up with congenial phone calls going into the finer points, and every now and then a 200-page fresh handwritten manuscript would appear in the mail, wrapped in a manila folder, which needed to be deciphered and typed, then edited and typeset, to eventually become a book. I loved that our office had a fax machine almost solely for this author relationship, and I came to really cherish the collaboration which was like plotting the next great novel - except this one was about commercial leases, covenants and types of tenancies.
The publishing course was a brilliant year for me, and has led to great opportunities and memorable encounters.
I graduated from the publishing course in the 1990s. The publishing world I walked in to over 15 years ago was certainly very different to the industry today. But Whitireia gave me skills and confidence to try anything and be flexible in my approach.
I've worked in a variety of companies and roles, from the wonderful Godwit (still, then, independent) to Little, Brown UK, and now am marketing director at Penguin Books UK. In 2013 we won 'best marketing campaign' at the British Book Awards! I love publishing as much as ever and always love to hear from new Whitireia graduates who are testing out the British book industry. My New Zealand publishing experience set me in good stead for working in London.
When I began the online publishing course in 2009, I worked in marketing at a legal publisher. Promoting employment law books wasn't exactly thrilling and what I really wanted to do was work with stories-ones that made you laugh or cry, ones that inspired you to dream or enveloped you in their own worlds. My hope was that after the course I would understand the publishing industry better and have the skills to develop my career.
When I finished the course I went out on my own, offering online tools for writers. I built them websites, showed them Facebook and that sort of thing. I was a bit 'nerdy' and no one else seemed to be focusing on this area of promotion. But something was missing. Online marketing doesn't work if it's not also done with media publicity-the two are meant to go together like peas and carrots.
Then about a year ago, Lorraine Steele, who I'd met at publishing events before, phoned me up saying she had a business idea. Lorraine was a publicist and someone I really admired, so I was thrilled she wanted to work together to offer publicity services covering both the online and offline worlds.
We launched Lighthouse PR in November 2012 and since then it has grown beyond everything we hoped. Now we work with writers' festivals and publishing houses, self-published writers and published authors. We've worked on all sorts of books; and with everyone from serious academics to local literature buffs to those writing fun and charming children's tales. The peas and carrots approach has worked for us, and though it is a changing time for the publishing industry, there are still stories to be told and readers who want to hear about them.
I graduated from the publishing course in 2011 and worked for some time as a publication manager at Adis, a medical publisher in Auckland. I am now a production editor in the journals division of Taylor & Francis in the UK.
The purpose of my role here is to oversee the production process of a group of academic journals, ensuring that articles and issues are published on time and that they meet quality standards. My list covers a broad range of different subject areas: arts, humanities, economics and science. While in principle each journal follows the same process (pre-editing, copyediting, typesetting, proof checking, publication), they all have their own individual quirks and distinct schedule. This definitely keeps you on your toes.
Working in production is great fun: it's varied and fast-paced. You get to collaborate with your colleagues in production and in different departments, and with external academic editors and suppliers. You are also the main point of contact for authors after their articles have been accepted for publication, which can at times be very rewarding.
I started the role in June this year, so I haven't been at the company very long. There is, however, a very clearly defined path for progression within production at Taylor & Francis: following production editor, you move to senior production editor, then deputy production manager, production manager and then senior production manager. I see myself continuing to work in production: you get an extraordinary amount of satisfaction when print copies of your journals are handed to you and you can see the result of your hard work.
Amber Carter graduated in 2012 and was offered an internship at Victoria University Press as part of the Publishers Association of New Zealand publishing intern programme.
Before I arrived at Victoria University Press I had formed a vague mental image of what it would look like: perhaps a modern, shiny edifice, with phones ringing, piles of paper everywhere, shelves stuffed with books, and authors and editors waving their hands at each other like flustered ducks. Consequently I was somewhat daunted when the reality turned out to be an old two-storey house hidden up a steep, vegetated track behind the university. Fortunately, inside this suburban camouflage is a publishing house that is (more or less) what I imagined, although no flustered ducks so far.
There are four staff members in the building (excluding myself), each secreted away in their own offices, so the atmosphere is one of quiet busyness rather than frantic chaos. The piles of paper I visualised unquestionably exist - manuscripts, copyedits, page proofs, cover options, checklists, (constantly re-jigged) schedules. They colonise every surface and have to be periodically attacked and tamed back into some semblance of order. Then there are the books, which - thanks to some handy rearranging in my first week - there is now adequate shelf-space for.
Due to its location and construction, downstairs can get pretty chilly, but I am fortunate enough to have a desk upstairs, where the heat accumulates and I have an excellent view out towards the harbour. I am also placed conveniently close to the coffee, which is generally understood to be an essential part of the publishing process. I copyedit, proofread, typeset, manage images, send out books and author wrangle as needed. The variation is stimulating, exhausting and wonderful.
There are periods of intense concentration when I'm unravelling a particularly knotty sentence or trying to typeset disparate content in a way that doesn't look like a child's scrapbook. There are flashes of triumph when everything is sent off to the printer, often preceded by brief moments of terror when a previously unseen error is spotted. There are also little spikes of humour that punctuate the workday. Sometimes it's a particularly apt quote or a line of dry, understated wit. Other times it's contact with the outside world - one (handwritten, photocopied) submission letter included the persuasive argument that the attached manuscript was not only a guaranteed bestseller but also that 'the film producers will make $20 billion'!
VUP publishes an astonishing range of books for such a small publishing house. In the last three months alone I've worked on poetry, novels, short stories, serious non-fiction and illustrated non-fiction. Highlights include the recently launched Fighting to Choose: The Abortion Rights Struggle in New Zealand and the upcoming The Royal New Zealand Ballet at Sixty (over 300 images to organise!).
The publishing course prepared me well for my work here. All the things I learnt through my projects also apply here: schedules are not ironclad, author availability varies, managing images takes a lot longer than you'd expect, InDesign is a marvellous but occasionally intractable beast, and publishing is a lot of fun. Also, cake is always welcome.
Whenever I worried about what I would do after finishing high school, I was always told that if I kept doing what I enjoyed I would end up in the right place. I enjoyed reading and I enjoyed words.
After completing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, and considering the next step once again, I heard about the publishing course from a family friend. It sounded very appealing and a little bit scary.
I enrolled for the publishing course in 2012. Over the course of the year, I felt more and more that this was the industry for me. The skills I gained have been invaluable because they are not only specific, but were also learned through experience. By the end of the year I felt fully equipped to enter the workforce, with a wide range of skills to bring to a job.
Shortly after graduating I was offered a job in Publications, Web and Marketing, at the Faculty of Architecture and Design at Victoria University. I administer the Faculty website and coordinate various university publications and events over the academic year. The university is a unique environment to work in, and the role is very varied. Two days are never the same and I am constantly learning new skills.
The publishing course opened up so many doors for me that I previously never knew existed. I will always remember it fondly as the most rewarding and fulfilling year of my study.
It amazes me sometimes that it hasn't even been two years since I graduated from the publishing course, particularly when I think about the work I get to do, and the people I get to work with every day. As the editor at PQ Blackwell in Auckland, I am challenged and stimulated in everything I do. PQ is an acclaimed creator and publisher of internationally best-selling illustrated books that collaborates with extraordinary individuals like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu as well as mind-blowingly talented photographers like Tim Flach and Andrew Zuckerman: I feel very privileged to work on the projects PQ is entrusted with and find them completely absorbing. When you are working on a book in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation or in honour of Archbishop Tutu, and you learn firsthand just how much these individuals have given of themselves, and witness just how gracious they are, you can't help but being absolutely engrossed and giving everything you have to make your meagre contribution to their legacy measure up.
It's impossible to pinpoint one thing that I love most about working in publishing, so here's a little list: building a book up from scratch, piecing it together with the help of incredibly dedicated and talented design colleagues; opening a book I have helped produce (about a year after printing seems to be about right; if I look at a book any sooner I can't yet enjoy the process as I'm still terrified of finding gigantic mistakes. I suspect this sinking feeling never truly goes away, no matter how many years you've worked in publishing!); nutting out a problems of every kind and solving them to the best of my ability; getting to be as pedantic as I please; working with an author to translate, and do justice to, the vision they have been working on for years and years, helping turn their dreams into the very best book I can possibly help them make.
After finishing my honours degree in English literature, I had two choices: become a teacher, or do something else. That something else ended up being the 2007 publishing course, which was an excellent decision. Throughout the year, the course offered fantastic exposure to the full scope of the publishing process; this wide range of experience thoroughly prepared me for taking my first steps into the publishing industry.
I was offered one of the PANZ internships at the conclusion of the course, and spent a year working as the publicist (among many other things!) at small, but mighty, Awa Press in Wellington. The internship programme provided an excellent chance to begin my publishing career. I moved to Melbourne, Australia, in 2009 and took up a job at John Wiley and Sons as an editorial assistant. After less than a year I was promoted to development editor on the For Dummies imprint, meaning I was responsible for the structural edit and project management of the 15-20 For Dummies books published in Australia and New Zealand every year. Without the background from the Whitireia course, and my subsequent internship, I have no doubt that I couldn't have made such a large step upwards so early in my career.
Being naturally inquisitive, working as an editor gives me a chance to learn about topics I'd never dream of reading about. But what I most love about publishing is being given a unique chance to make a difference, through producing (or marketing, or selling) books that affect people's lives, in whatever small way.
I vowed to become an editor after getting flummoxed over a simple English grammar question while teaching in Japan.
I signed up for the publishing course, hoping to learn about the finer points of punctuation. What I got instead was a comprehensive A-Z of publishing. During the course I realised that editing was just one part of a much larger process. Being able to study all aspects of publishing helped me to figure out what I wanted to do for a career.
In my first week employed at Wellington educational publisher South Pacific Press, I was handed a major international project to publish. Since then, I have managed the publishing of resources, both hard-copy and digital, for American, British, Australian and New Zealand schools. I am now their publishing manager.
My background was in television production, but in 1998, with a young family at home, I was working part-time in a bank and getting very frustrated with the quality of written material that was being circulated nationwide from so-called 'Communications' divisions. I knew I had the capacity to do better.
I completed the publishing course the next year - the course was a real buzz from beginning to end - then I worked for the New Zealand Book Council and as a technical writer before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
I now manage all of the Ministry's publications and its 34 websites, am responsible for standards of use for Ministry identity and copyright, and manage its internal and off-site printing facility.
I've drawn upon and developed everything I learnt on the course in this role. In the early months at MFAT, I referred often to notes taken during the course. If in doubt I sought advice from others in the industry - the relationships I formed during the course were very valuable.
I came to the publishing course in 2005 with a BA in Linguistics and English Language and a background in the public sector, looking for something to develop my love of language and books into a meaningful vocation.
Aside from learning about every aspect involved in making books, one of the best things about the course was meeting and listening to so many of the key people in the publishing industry.
Before the course finished, I was selected from a large number of applicants to be publishing assistant at Te Papa Press. I was then promoted to senior editor where I used my publishing skills and knowledge to help make award-winning, beautiful, literary non-fiction books. The opportunity during the course to actually create a publication gave me invaluable experience in book production, which I am still benefiting from now.
Jeremy Sherlock hails from the Coromandel, of Tainui and Ngati Awa descent.
Before publishing, I struggled to find a line of work that matched my interests. But the publishing course at Whitireia solved that problem, and led to 'a strenuous but deeply rewarding period of study.
After graduation, I was offered one of the three places on the publishing intern programme - six months' work at Zenith Publishing. That led to an editorial position at Reed Publishing, then Penguin Group (NZ), where I work today as a commissioning editor.
I still regard my year on the course as one of my most cherished. It led to being employed by one of New Zealand's best publishers - and I formed some lasting friendships.
Anke Reichelt is sales manager for Random House USA, based in Berlin, with responsibility for the Central European market.
With 15 years' experience in the book trade, I took a year off to study for the publishing course in Wellington in 2004. I wanted to learn more about the production side of publishing and get up to date with current technology.
Despite my substantial experience, I had a refreshing year, was impressed with the support given to the course by local publishers, and it generated many new publicity ideas which I use back home in Europe ... . New Zealand has a very lively and sophisticated publishing scene. All the lecturers and publishers are willing to share their knowledge. And, not to forget: New Zealanders are very hospitable people. It is very easy for foreigners to live in this country.
Diploma in Publishing (Online) Graduates
I fell into publishing by accident. While studying for my BA (Hons) in History and English I was working for educational publisher BIOZONE International Ltd in a variety of roles, starting with packing in dispatch, moving (as needed) through production assistance, sales & marketing and even a stint as General Manager of the UK office in Edinburgh as maternity cover. After completing my degree, I continued to work at BIOZONE fulltime, and am now employed as Logistics & Website Coordinator.
For a long time I tried to find a career path related to my degree. However, the ‘follow your interests’ advice given to me in high school did not seem to translate into paid employment. It wasn’t until seeking professional career advice that the ‘elephant in the room’ was addressed. By this point I had 10 years experience working for an educational publisher in a variety of roles, and our ‘eureka’ moment arrived when we saw that we could marry my love of books and written language with my work experience and knowledge gained from working at BIOZONE. In hindsight, a career in publishing was a real no-brainer.
However, an honours degree alone is not enough to make you stand out in the competitive job market these days. The advice I received (that I wish I had been given in high school) was that the addition of a specialist diploma was the way to go. This would give me the practical experience to build on my existing knowledge and to stand out in a competitive job market.
That was where Whitireia came in. The online publishing course has allowed me to continue working for BIOZONE, while progressing through the diploma, helping me bring more expertise to my job as I apply what I have learned to my day-to-day role. The diploma has also expanded my knowledge of the publishing industry beyond educational publishing, opening up new opportunities.
My study experience has been a delight so far. I tried distance learning through another institution briefly, and I am much more enthusiastic about the Whitireia experience, where there is more participation and interaction. Being able to work with industry experts is a delight, and the quality of communication and feedback I have received is phenomenal.
The publishing industry is going through a great deal of change, and the advent of the digital movement is fascinating to me. Far from the ‘doom and gloom’ that is bandied about so often, I see this a great time to get into the publishing; to be involved with the changing landscape and help determine the direction of the industry.
My love affair with the book world escalated when I began working at Borders Queen Street in Auckland, where I realised I needed to get into the publishing business. Fate was on my side, as when Borders’ doors closed (literally, in 2011) the door to Random House NZ was opened for me and I joined the Random House customer services team. I became fully immersed in the company but found myself wanting more, so in 2013 I began my online Diploma in Publishing.
I have learned something from every part of the course but the most rewarding aspect, for me, is that I now understand everything I do so much better. I appreciate the background and the meaning of the special orders, remainders and other information that crosses my path. Readings that I did the night before would appear in my work of the next day.
The online course is set up with readings and matching activities to help you understand and think about what you just read. The feedback you receive each week from the tutors in regard to these activities is always useful, and I also always enjoyed reading my fellow students’ answers. My favourite area of study was the editorial paper and I especially enjoyed doing the reader report. I also found the marketing and trade knowledge paper and the information it provided me, especially in regard to digital books, useful and interesting.
I won’t lie: doing the course fulltime while continuing fulltime work is hard. I came home almost every evening to do an hour or two of readings and activities, and quite a few weekends, and days of annual, were set aside for assignments. It has been a very busy year, but I never felt bogged down. My calendar was full of highlighted bits and pieces to keep me on track.
My publishing passion still remains in the story. Whitireia has helped me hone my editorial skills and given me opportunities to do what I really wish to do, which is to read manuscripts and to, one day, be a content editor. Though I have also become increasingly interested in publishing’s digital future. Perhaps these two interests can become entwined and I will one day be a content editor for ebook titles.
I studied the publishing course online and graduated in 2008.
The publishing course gave me a great overview of the publishing industry and, although I was convinced that I wanted to be a book editor, I really enjoy my current role. I project manage thirty scholarly journal issues a year and oversee about sixty scientific editors spread around various universities and research institutes throughout the country. This can be quite a challenge at times, even with another full-time member of staff in the office. It is my responsibility to make sure that the journals conform to international best-practice for scholarly publishing, which is a very dynamic environment at present. I also have to ensure that we meet the requirements of the various international bodies governing the naming of newly discovered species of plants and animals, which have only just recently begun to accept that electronic publication is 'real'.
The possession of great people skills is one of the most important attributes of a good editor, in my opinion. It's all very well being a fantastic proof-reader, finding all those grammatical errors and typos, and spotting all the places where the author doesn't conform to house style, but if you can't convey the message in a diplomatic manner you will soon alienate authors. Building and maintaining good relationships is one of the most important aspects of my job.
Louisa Kasza graduated from the publishing course in 2013, having completed the course online while working part-time at Time Out Bookstore in Auckland. She is now working as editorial assistant at Auckland University Press.
My first year in the ‘real’ world, after completing a BA with vague ideas of becoming an editor or climbing the academia ladder, was a shock. I was fortunate to secure a job at the wonderful Time Out Bookstore, where I gained a wealth of knowledge about the book trade. People often ask if working in a bookstore means reading all day, but aside from how busy with customers Time Out gets, there are always publishers’ sales representatives coming and going, shipments of books to process and boxes of unsold books to return to publishers, and lots of to-ing and fro-ing with publishers and distributors over specific customer orders.
I considered enrolling in the publishing course in Wellington but the trouble was, I had moved up to Auckland from Wellington and it was now my home. Eventually I decided on the online course. I knew that studying online wouldn't be easy, particularly as I had elected to take all four modules in one year, and that my chances of gaining an editorial position in a shrinking and competitive market were slim. However, I also knew from my work at the bookstore that small-press publishers were opening even as larger companies closed their doors, and that publishing needs people who care about its future now more than ever. Studying online was sometimes isolating, but the course content is strong, the structure is practical and my tutors were always helpful.
Finishing the course felt very déjà vu. I emailed publishers offering to work for nothing and applied for jobs I wasn’t particularly interested in, to no avail. I was feeling dispirited when the senior editor at my old university’s press, whom I knew through the bookstore and had regularly pestered for an internship, emailed to ask if I was interested in helping out with editorial work. I was ecstatic – Auckland University Press was the best fit I could have hoped for and editorial positions are rare. Now, it’s my dream job: my bosses are inspiring, the books we produce are beautiful and thought-provoking, and the relatively small team makes for valuable learning opportunities.
Time Out Bookstore has been a second family and has always supported me, giving me part-time work while I was studying, full-time while I was job-hunting, and now twenty hours a week as book buyer which, together with my job at the Press, keeps me in red pens. However, Time Out has also provided me with contacts in the publishing industry and knowledge about the book trade I couldn’t have got anywhere else. In production meetings I am often asked to chime in on decisions relating to upcoming books – such as print runs, book size and format, scope, and cover design – from a bookseller’s perspective, and it brings me great satisfaction that I can offer that little extra bit of insight.
On completing an MA (Hons) in English, I, like many arts graduates, flirted (rather hopelessly) with the idea of being either a lawyer or a primary school teacher.
In the meantime, my love of books led to a job in an independent bookshop. There I heard about the publishing course and everything fell into place for me. Of course I should have a future working with books and words.
I chose to study online while working as the manager of the bookshop. Keeping that connection with the book trade was invaluable, and I was impressed with the online programme's coverage and flexibility: I could work on weekends and after work. I found the content so interesting and varied that it was never a chore.
On graduation, I took up a publishing internship at Gecko Press, which went so well it led to a permanent position, confirming that children's publishing is the place for me.
Before entering the publishing course in 2008, I was working as a writer and editor at TML Publishing in Christchurch — a small publishing house that produced advertisement-driven travel and lifestyle guides. While working, I found that my heart lay with books, not publications with a short shelf life, and I quit my corporate job to take the online, full-time version of the publishing course while working part-time as a book buyer.
I loved doing this course! It was a huge change of pace from my BA degree — a lot more practical and hands-on. I could see very clearly how each skill could be applied in the real world and, on finishing the course, I felt very well-equipped. I rave about the diploma to anyone who is even vaguely interested. It's the best pathway into the industry available in New Zealand, I think.
It's not the kind of course you can coast through — which is a really good thing! Every assignment was a challenge, and I felt like each one had a purpose and taught me something really valuable. There was no 'busy work,' which I really liked. If you decide to take on the Diploma, be prepared to work. Hard. I particularly enjoyed learning about the production process, and I learned to appreciate the design and marketing aspects, with which I had never really been involved.
I met so many wonderful people — even while doing the course online. The tutors Paula Wagemaker and Coral Atkinson, in particular, inspired me, and Coral remains a friend and mentor to this day. The online option is a really excellent one if your family, work or financial commitments make it impossible for you to be on campus, and I highly recommend it.
On completing the diploma, I took a slightly unconventional route. For me, the course solidified my desire to take a chance on my dream and enter the industry as an author, armed with my better knowledge of how the whole system worked. I completed a MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Canterbury and wrote the novel that became my first published work as an adult. The Whitireia course gave me an excellent grounding in the practicalities and processes of the book world, which proved invaluable when I signed with my agent and publisher. I felt like I had a much better handle on the concrete aspects of the industry.
So far, two of my novels have been released in the UK and around the world: The Cry of the Go-Away Bird and The White Shadow, both published by Harvill Secker, a division of Random House. I am currently working on a third.
I did the publishing course in 2007. I had been looking to get into publishing for a year or so and everyone in the industry kept telling me to quit pestering them until I had done the course — then they might talk to me, they said!
After being accepted I was fortunate enough to land a part-time entry level role as Marketing Assistant at Auckland University Press and I did the course while working there — which worked well. The course provided a valuable grounding in the industry, I began with my heart set on becoming an editor, but was surprised to find that the marketing module was the one that I enjoyed the most and got the best marks in. I was also thoroughly enjoying my junior marketing role at AUP and this led me to seek marketing roles within publishing.
I went next to a marketing assistant role at Random House NZ for 14 months. I then moved to the UK and worked for Palgrave Macmillan for two years in a senior marketing executive role, and I am now a marketing manager at Eurospan — a London-based marketing, sales and distribution agency which provides European representation for small to medium sized publishers from North America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Pacific (including New Zealand). Most of our clients are either university presses or professional, technical, scientific or medical publishers.
I am responsible for all EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) marketing for 16 American client publishers, the biggest of which are Stanford University Press and the University of Michigan Press.
I love the books industry — ebook technology has meant massive changes even in my relatively short career (Amazon announced the approaching launch of the Kindle while I was doing the Whitireia course) and this makes it an exciting time to be in publishing.
Whitireia opened the doors to the industry — and even now with a fair bit of experience under my belt — it certainly helps to have it on the CV.
The publishing course folk asked me to talk about one amazing and wonderful thing that I’d done since I’ve been working in publishing. Sorry – fail – I can’t do it. I have hundreds of somethings.
I did the Whitireia publishing course in 2003. In Auckland, in a funny little house on the cold south side of a volcano at the very end of a dead-end street in Epsom. There were ten of us (Alison, Andrea, Haidee, Kat, Kelly, Kirsteen, Lata, Peter, Sally and me), and along the way we lost a couple people – to Reed, I think; to higher-paying industries. Lata already had a job as a typesetter. Peter had a passion for trout-fishing. Kat worked for Chris Cole-Catley when she wasn’t at school. And we all knew that Alison would go far. We grumbled a lot, especially about our status reports. We were kept beautifully in line by Teresa and Kate, and Peter on Fridays. And Thursday mornings we interned. I thought the intern thing was one of the best bloody things I’d ever done and refused to move to a new publisher at the end of the first semester. That’s why I’m still here, and why I have worked on hundreds of AUP books since then: because for some crazy reason Teresa looked at me in the very first week and said ‘academic publishing’. So I am very grateful to Whitireia and for my Dip. Pub. Every year I try and talk my boss into having as many new Whitireia interns as we can get through the door. To give back.
They asked for one amazing and wonderful thing I’d encountered in my post-Whitireia career. I can’t name just one, but here are four types of amazing thing: Authors. Colleagues. Readers. Books. Too many of these amazing things to count.
Theresa Crewdson is a publisher for Wellington-based educational publisher South Pacific Press / Lift Education. She completed the publishing course in 2006 and joined South Pacific Press the following year. She quickly worked her way up from editorial assistant to managing the publishing of digital and hard-copy resources for schools and adult training organisations in New Zealand and overseas.
As soon as she heard about the Editing Masterclass, Theresa was keen: "Five years working in the industry has confirmed that editing is my real passion, so I jumped at the chance to further my skills.
"One of the most valuable things about the Editing Masterclass (as with the publishing course) was the industry involvement — the tutors are working editors, as are the other students. Editing can be an isolated role, whether you're working in-house or freelance. So it's great to find a forum where you can unashamedly discuss editorial details with others who are really interested!
"I realised there's no single right way to edit something. Each of us approached every exercise slightly differently, but we all had valid solutions. The tutors, Paula and Anna, really treated us as colleagues and created an enjoyable, supportive environment.
"The Masterclass was not only an opportunity to refresh and expand on my skills, but a chance to build my confidence and experience working on a real manuscript that was different to those I come across in my job."
Prior to going freelance as an editor I had worked for 12 years in-house for various publishers in production and editorial roles. Despite my background working with some of New Zealand's best editors and developing a comprehensive understanding of the editorial process, I discovered as a freelance editor that I had much yet to learn.
The Editing Masterclass at Whitireia filled in many blanks — many more than I imagined existed! The course exercises refined my editing skills, while the extensive reading material, tutor talks and workshops have given me a far more in-depth understanding of the editor's role, and the invaluable feedback from the course tutors gave me a confidence I lacked before. As the course progressed I often found myself thinking, 'Wish I'd done this 10 years ago!' Upon its completion I felt enthused and excited about, and even more committed to my future as an editor.
I completed the publishing course in 2005 and the Editing Masterclass in 2013.
There were six of us on the course – from government agencies, literary magazines, private companies and independent contracting – and two tutors (Paula Wagemaker and Anna Rogers) mentored us through the course, online and in two workshops. We had interesting discussions about editing right from the start of the course and received thought-provoking feedback.
For the first few weeks, we focused on reading editors’ and publishers’ views on structural editing and completing set exercises. Some of the things we looked at are deciding how much editing to do on a text, identifying whether a hands-on or hands-off approach is best, considering ways to reshape and enliven the language, tone and rhythm of text, finding creative ways to help the author’s message and voice sing out, and working with authors on their scripts.
The Editing Masterclass was a great opportunity to take time to really think about how you edit and approach editing and learn from the different ways others tackle the same tasks. It makes you aware of the subtle (and large) decisions and judgements you make as you shape sentences, select words, come to grips with the voice and tone of a piece, and develop the flow of the text. And it challenges you to question why you’ve done it a certain way and to look at possible alternatives.
Halfway through the course we plunged into a structural edit of a book, bringing fresh ideas from the first part of the course, sharing and discussing our different approaches to the material and getting feedback on our editing as we went. It was a busy, thoughtful and stimulating few months.