Alumni - Renae Haines, MA In Publishing 2010-11

Life after the MA

I am now a project manager with the Quayside Publishing Group, which is part of the London-based Quarto Group. It's an editorial position. We're located about 20 miles north of Boston. Quayside is primarily a trade reference publisher, and if you'd told me while I was at Brookes that I'd end up in trade reference, my mind would have filled with thoughts of dictionaries and I would have told you you were insane. But we don't publish dictionaries, we publish books for enthusiasts: subjects like cooking, crafts, hobbies, backyard blacksmithing, relationships, health, and even The Chicken Whisperer's Guide to Keeping Chickens.

I work with four imprints: Rockport, Quarry, Fair Winds, and Quiver. Rockport is the oddball at Quayside: while the focus of the imprint is on various types of design (graphic, fashion, etc.) and fits in with the enthusiasts theme, it's much more academically-oriented than the others. The other three imprints cover such diverse and niche areas that I'm constantly learning new things (not just about publishing, but also about completely random subjects like how to make marshmallows) and meeting authors from a truly diverse array of backgrounds. "Monotonous" is the last word I'd use to describe my job.

The books I've worked on so far have ranged from gluten-free cookbooks to drawing comics, improving relationships, a graphic design textbook, and even artisan cheesemaking and celebrity makeup. One of my fall books is The Great Cholesterol Myth, and we're expecting the admittedly controversial book to be one of our biggest books of the season; it's a title we're really putting a lot of effort into getting absolutely perfect, and I'm flattered to have been entrusted with it. 
My job as an editorial project manager covers everything from the time a manuscript has been accepted by the acquisitions editor to the time it goes off to the printer. I hire copy editors, proofreaders, and indexers, and handle their contracts and invoices. I'm the main point of contact for the author, walking them through the process and helping them with any issues. I go through the text myself doing general edits, and do a proper copy edit or proofread when circumstances require. For some titles I arrange endorsements from appropriate experts. I coordinate with design, the image librarian, and marketing, and do my best to keep everyone on schedule. While I do a lot more than read, reading is a large part of it and there's nothing better than getting lost in a good book and realising you're getting paid to do so.
The vast majority of our books are quite heavily illustrated, so as you can imagine co-editions are important for us. In the two months that I've been at my job, what's surprised me the most is how useful everything I learned in design is turning out to be. Design is far from being my strength, and as I didn't plan to become a designer I didn't think it'd be very useful. As it turns out, my knowledge of design in general and InDesign in particular allows me to have more meaningful conversations with the design department about my projects, to more clearly communicate with them what I want, as well as communicating to the author why they can't have what they want. Knowing how design actually works informs my editorial comments as it means I have a much better idea of what is and is not a reasonable request. Design is hugely important to us (our design department represents about 20% of the office, even though most of the layout and design is done by freelancers!), and I feel my understanding of the area has really helped to make me more of an asset to the company.
Everything I learned at Brookes has helped me with my job, whether it be something direct like marking up proofs or understanding what people are talking about in production meetings, or something indirect like impressing the CEO when he started to tell me what LBF is and I was able to tell him I'd not only been, but had also volunteered there. My MA and internships allowed me to skip the entry-level position of editorial assistant, and I've been doing real, meaningful work since my first day. I'm new, but I'm a trusted and valued member of staff and feel like I'm making a real contribution. 
I feel like I've really lucked out with my job. I love the variety of titles we publish, and how overwhelmingly practical all of our books are. I love how much attention we give each book, how we're able to work so closely with authors. I love how everyone here is able to giggle a bit about some of our sillier titles while still treating them seriously and approaching their work professionally. I love how being a small company means there aren't a million layers between me and our two publishers, how I'm able (and encouraged) to approach them directly.
Mostly though, I love the fact that I've finally found a job that suits and challenges me, one that I enjoy and that makes me think, one where I'm able to look around and determine exactly what value I add to the company. My goal going into the course was to become a fiction editor, and while I don't work in fiction I am a trade editor, and I fully count that as a success. I wouldn't have this career that I love so much if it weren't for the things I learned, the people I met, and the confidence I gained at Brookes.

Posted on 11 Jul 2012 around 3pm