Penny Analytis has been a tutor on the project management module for the online Diploma in Publishing since 2006. She began working for us while living in France and is now based in Australia. Thanks to the flexibility of both online teaching and the publishing business, geography has been no barrier.
Starting with Whitireia coincided with my first foray into working as a freelance editor, and since then I have worked in-house and freelance, both in academic and educational publishing. My main area of publishing is language learning, which is probably best described as a unique beast. Language learning courses are unusual in that they involve numerous inter-related components from print books and digital support resources to audio and video. All of these elements must take into account the language level of the learner, the preferred teaching approach and curriculum changes, while balancing new and traditional technologies (not all classrooms are equipped with the latest technology!).
Language publishing has always relied on bringing together people from disparate professions such as illustrators, photographers, sound engineers, actors, and now software developers, as well as designers, typesetters, production controllers, editors and, of course, authors. Everyone involved is an expert in their field but may not understand the parameters that others have to work within. Communication is key to getting everyone to work well together and achieve a successful publication. This is especially so in the many instances when you never meet the people involved – a trend most likely set to continue as publishing houses rely on fewer in-house staff with more and more work being completed by external suppliers.
If I think about some of the things I’d like to pass on to students about to enter the industry, they’d be these: In the rush of the project, we often forget that our suppliers are actually people and it is nice sometimes to ask something about them (other than will you meet the deadlines and where are the extra changes I asked for). We may also forget that everyone is most likely working to the best of their abilities, so before we complain that a supplier hasn’t done what we asked for, it might pay to reflect on whether that request was realistic or clear. Finally, I think the main thing I have learnt is that no publication is the result of one person’s work, and having a successful publication (and publishing career) involves acknowledging and respecting the skills everyone brings to the project.