Name: Emma Thomson
Degree and University: Oxford Brookes University, 2:1 BA English (major) and Anthropology (minor).
Can you give your work title and what it is you actually do?
I work as an editorial project manager for Bradt Travel Guides. My role involves briefing and guiding authors through the editorial process – from the moment they submit the raw manuscript to the published book. Guidebooks in particular have various add-on elements besides the text, which means I have to liaise with cartographers, photographers, designers, and specialist checkers, plus keep the titles on budget.
What made you choose this career path?
A love of travel and writing initially propelled me towards Publishing, but that has morphed into the satisfaction that comes from creating a product that will (hopefully) last for years to come and contribute meaningfully to the travel market.
What, if any, difficulties did you have to overcome to get this job?
The longer I’ve been in Publishing the more I’ve realised it’s often a case of being in the right place at the right time, which is where work experience comes into its own.
Do you have a publishing qualification (e.G. Masters, PGDip)? If so, has this helped your career?
No, I have no publishing qualifications, but since starting employment at Bradt I’ve taken copy-editing and proofreading courses at the London College of Communication.
What do you like most about your job?
Bradt are still a small company and as a result the editors aren’t just another cog in the wheel. We gain invaluable experience by being involved at every stage of the process, and as a result we often build close relationships with our authors. The consumer travel trade shows are also exciting because you get to see public reaction to the titles you’ve produced – otherwise there’s the tendency to work in an editorial bubble.
Are there any downsides to what you do?
You do have to manage your time effectively. We often have seven or eight projects on the go at once and to bring all the different elements (maps, photos, text, etc) together in time for publication involves careful planning. We also have to be sure not to over-spend on our title budgets!
What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you do?
Funnily enough the most important thing when working in a small team is to be able to get along with everyone easily. This extends to maintaining good relationships with the freelance cartographers, etc, that you correspond with daily via email and phone. After that come skills like time management, an eye for consistency, good grammar and punctuation.
What would be your best piece of advice for graduates wishing to come into this sector?
Work experience – do as much as possible on a wide variety of publications. Placements don’t necessarily have to be with publications like the Daily Telegraph or glossy magazines like Sunday Times Travel. A basic knowledge of the publishing process gained during placements will put you ahead of the competition. If you’re interested in an editorial position then it’s also worth learning the standard proofreading symbols. Publishing houses will often ask graduates to complete an editing test at interview.