Production Editorial Manager
“A humanities education helps you see the world from different and useful perspectives,” says Seth Townley. “The critical thinking skills gained during my studies at SUM are vital to my work at Taylor & Francis Group,” which is one of the world's leading publishers of academic research.
- Describe the most important tasks you have in your job today
– I lead a team of production editors whose job it is to project manage the process of taking book manuscripts from submission through to print-ready files. This involves them coordinating between authors and external suppliers such as copy editors, typesetters, proofreaders and indexers. The most important tasks I do every day include assessing manuscripts as they come in, assigning them to a member of my team and giving direction on their specific production requirements. I am responsible for the recruitment, training and development of production editors on my team. I also undertake process improvement projects aimed at keeping our practices up to date with technological advances in the industry.
- What do you like best about your job?
– I believe the work we do as an academic publisher is incredibly important. Never more so than today when disinformation is so easily disseminated and it’s not always easy to distinguish reliable sources from unreliable ones. Trusted sources of peer-reviewed research and scholarship are vital to a free and open society equipped to deal with the social, political, economic and environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. I like feeling that the job I do contributes in a small but positive way to these issues, and being exposed to the wealth of high-quality academic writing that we produce into books.
- How is the education from The Faculty of Humanities relevant in this job?
– The fact that the two-year master’s at SUM is interdisciplinary was the perfect preparation for working at a company that publishes work from across all of humanities and social sciences, as well as STEM. It’s relevant in many ways, but perhaps most usefully the critical thinking skills I gained during my studies are vital to the part of my role which involves examining our processes for producing books and improving them to make them more efficient and relevant to the newer ways in which academic content is distributed and consumed. A humanities education helps you see the world from different and useful perspectives.
- What’s your best tip for new students who are thinking about job opportunities after graduation?
– Look beyond just the jobs that are immediately relevant to your studies. Unless you’re going into research or have done a vocational degree you’ll be lucky if you find an employer that is simply looking for someone with expertise in the area you studied. This isn’t to say your subject knowledge won’t benefit you once you’re in your job, but employers are often looking primarily for the organisational, critical thinking and communication skills they associate with people who have completed higher education over expertise in a particular area. That said, if you are at SUM and do like the idea of going on to work in academic publishing, you couldn’t do much better than volunteering for the editorial board of the excellent Tvergastein Journal.