Visiting Speakers: Witherby Publishing Group

March 20th, 2017 | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speakers: Witherby Publishing Group
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When I first decided I was interested in publishing, I knew very little about the business, and – as many laymen do – thought that trade fiction was the only way to go. It was the only thing I wanted to do, because it was more or less the only thing that came to mind when I thought “publishing”. And I wanted to be an editor.

In my final year of undergrad, I had made some inquiries about the publishing course at Stirling, and consequently was updated by email about publishing events that I could attend. The visiting speaker sessions was one of these events, and I went along.

When I emerged from the talk two hours later, my whole conception of publishing was shattered and all the little pieces had reformed into something entirely different. Publishing is so much more than trade fiction, and if it is publishing you want to do, I have come to realise that the nature of the content isn’t always that important. And so I went into my Masters with much more of an open mind, thanks to the lovely Gillian Macrossan and (Stirling alumna) Jo Marjoribanks.

Sitting through the talk for the second time, I could remember some things from the previous year, but being almost two semesters into my degree this time, things made a lot more sense. The importance of things such as carbon footprint, living wage and paid internships are examples of things that I could not put into context two years ago, but now I know how important these things are for the health of the publishing business. Also, cheaper isn’t always better if you want a good quality product, and it might actually turn out not to be cheaper at all. For example, production might be cheaper in China, and you’re sitting in your office rubbing your hands together … but then the shipping bill comes and evens it all out.

Something else that becomes apparent in this talk is the importance of editing. It can literally be a case of life and death if a mistake is printed. Witherby publish marine literature, manuals, guides, training literature for mariners (not seamen, we do not like that word!) among other things. They might be massive bricks about one particular part of a ship, and laymen wouldn’t look twice at them, or their price tag. But can you imagine what can happen if a mistake went unnoticed when it comes to something as massive and heavy as a ship? Death isn’t actually that far-fetched.

One other thing that I took away from this talk (both times) is how important it is to network, apply for internships, be openminded and to not shy away from opportunities. This inspiration I mainly got from Jo, as she landed the job at Witherby through an internship that kept on getting extended until she finally was given a full-time job. I will admit that my brain was exhausted just listening to all her different responsibilities, ranging from fighting pirates to editing to doing copyright work. But imagine getting a job like that where you can do so many different things! That has to be the dream.

All in all, this visiting speaker session is something that everyone, if you’re interested in publishing and want a real boost of inspiration and energy, should attend. Gillian and Jo are two very talented women who make the publishing business a much less scary place to a mere mortal.

And remember: Editing kills.

– by Helene Fosse