Careers Development

Across the publishing industry there is a set of core functions that enable each publishing house to commission, curate and disseminate their published content. To open the door on the opportunities within publishing and get insight into the skills publishers are looking for you will find here details about the nature of the work fulfilled by those departments as well as gain perspective into what progression looks like within those functions.

The Editorial department within an STM Publishing company is responsible for the management and development of a list of products (primarily books and journals), usually within a dedicated subject area.

Main responsibilities of the department usually include:

  • Portfolio Management: Managing book and journal programmes in accordance with company standards and deadlines, focussing on increasing readership, quality and profitability.
  • Commissioning and Content Development: Delivering growth of book and journal programmes in line with Publishing company strategy and market demands, achieved via
    • launching new journals
    • commissioning new books and new editions
    • driving growth of existing titles
    • acquiring and publishing on behalf of societies and associations
  • Contract Management: Overseeing society, editor and title contracts, including drafting new contracts and negotiating contract renewals.
  • Networking and relationship development:
    • maintaining and expanding relationships with external authors, editors, editorial boards, societies and associations.
    • arranging and chairing editorial board meetings
    • attending and presenting at subject conferences
    • visiting university departments to increase market knowledge and meet prospective authors
  • Product Development: Developing products in line with the Publishing company strategy and industry developments (i.e. digital innovations, Open Access) and ensuring high quality content relevant to the requirements of the subject community.
  • Industry Standards: Ensuring that all guidelines and procedures are followed when handling publication ethics situations.

The Production department within an STM Publishing company is ultimately responsible for the end-to-end management of content (primarily books and journals) from the point of supply through to publication (print and online).

Key responsibilities of the department include:

  • Administrating the production process from the point of receiving copy through all of the production stages to printing, online hosting and final despatch. This usually involves overseeing content through an electronic editorial office system into an in-house content management system
  • Editorial workflow co-ordination and management, which may involve managing online supply chain systems (i.e. ScholarOne, Editorial Manager)
  • Liaising with external editors and authors to ensure content is delivered to schedule, is in the required format, and contains all necessary permissions and copyright assignment forms
  • Managing publication schedules and pagination budgets, ensuring all products publish to schedule and budget
  • Copy editing and proof-reading content at various stages through the production workflow as well as overseeing the management of proof corrections
  • Overseeing electronic publication of books and journals to an online platform and supply to third party aggregators and print on demand partners
  • Vendor management - managing relationships with external vendors i.e. printers, typesetters, illustrators, freelance copyeditors and proof readers, indexers
  • Ensuring adherence to external industry standards

Increasingly, the remit of the production department is also expanding to include overseeing some post publication initiatives i.e. tagging, semantic enrichment, enhancing discoverability of content.

Working with all parts of the business, the role of the digital product management team is to develop, deliver and support digital products and solutions within organisation. Typically they are people who are enthusiastic about technology and how it can best utilised to improve scholarly and scientific communication.

Responsibilities include:

  • Developing digital products and launching them to an agreed plan -- time, quality and profitability
  • Performing research to assess new opportunities for digital solutions
  • Building and developing stakeholder relationships, both internal and external
  • Analysing data to produce clear and comprehensive reports to be used by the business
  • Gathering and defining of user and system requirements
  • Perform system testing to validate solution to requirements

In the scholarly publishing industry, marketing supports the publisher's activities through:

  • Driving new sales opportunities by lead generation and raising the visibility of products
  • Retaining existing revenue by driving product usage and customer outreach
  • Supporting content acquisition by author marketing, supporting key conferences and events and engagement with the scholarly community
  • Promoting the publisher with activities from brand management, to circulating news releases and listening to feedback

These objectives are achieved through effective communication of messages about the publisher as a whole, as well as specific products, using a range of media. These media include traditional advertising avenues, such as print and online banner ads in relevant publications, as well emerging approaches such as social media and content marketing activities (video, user reviews, etc.). The work requires a combination of creative skills to produce innovative marketing campaigns, strong communication skills, and analytical skills to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns.

A general overview of skills used in various stages of a career in marketing is noted below. However, it is important to note that the scope of each role varies greatly depending on the company profile.

The sales team aims to generate sales revenue for a publisher's products and services. This may be achieved through a variety of sales channels: direct selling to libraries and other institutional customers; working with intermediaries such as subscription agents, distributors and aggregators; developing business through direct-to-consumer channels such as Amazon or Apple.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Developing sales plans and strategies for achieving revenue targets
  • Generating leads and opportunities through close contact with new and existing customers
  • Monitoring customer, market and competitor activity & communicating to colleagues
  • Working closely with marketing to develop and execute on specific campaigns and territory/market plans
  • Working with other departments (e.g. customer service, sales support, editorial) to maximize customer engagement & satisfaction through the sales cycle from pitch to delivery and after-sales service

Rights & licensing is also focused on developing revenue streams the publisher's products and services, but through secondary sales channels. Traditional rights sales include permissions for re-use of published material, translations of book or journal content, and licenses with reproduction rights organizations. As STM content becomes increasingly online-focused, opportunities for rights & licensing continue to grow through the development of new licensing models for digital re-use of content in electronic products, for use on aggregator platforms or sales through transactional services (e.g. document delivery or article rental).

Responsibilities may vary depending in which area a role is located, but in general, key responsibilities include:

  • Developing sales plans and strategies for achieving licencing revenue targets
  • Generating leads and opportunities through close contact with new and existing customers
  • Monitoring customer, market and competitor activity & communicating to colleagues
  • Working with legal/contracts department to draft licenses, permissions and other agreements

A good understanding of copyright law and intellectual property is essential in rights & licensing roles.

Industry career interviews

The Early Career Publishers Committee has produced a wide range of interviews with publishing professionals across the industry - find out what their career paths looked like and what they think are the most important skills you’ll need to develop for a successful career in STM publishing.

Ian Bannerman, Former Managing Director, Taylor & Francis, speaks to us about his role and his career progression from Production to General Management. Find out what skills Ian thinks are important to progress in Publishing.

Amanda Weaver, Head of Practitioner Publishing at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, speaks to us about her role. Find out how a degree in metallurgy led to a career in Publishing.

Andrea Powell, Chief Information Officer at CABI, speak to us about her role. Find out how a career that started out as a graduate trainee at Reuters led to a role within the Executive team.

Janine Burr-Willans, Head of Content Management at Emerald, speaks to us about her role in Production. Find out how a love of the industry has contributed to her career.

Ernst Kallus, Technology Programme Director at Emerald, speaks to us about his role and career. Find out what excites Ernst about the Publishing industry.

Harriet Bell, Marketing Director at Emerald, speaks to us about her role and how she started out as a Conferences Assistant. Find out what other roles Harriet has taken on in her career and what skills she believes are important.

Richard Bevan, Group CEO and Chairman of Emerald talks about his role, his career path – which started in retail, and the skillset which employees wanting to work in publishing will need to develop.