Why I work in publishing

Sarah Cullington
Sarah Cullington is Acquisition Editor at Packt Publishing

This is definitely an exciting time to work in the publishing industry. It seems that more changes will be taking place in the next three years than have done in the last century, particularly in how published content is presented, perceived and promoted.

The future of publishing lies heavily with the digital market. E-readers have become increasingly popular over the last year and they will become even more so over the next three years. However, I can’t imagine that print books will die out completely. Would you really be happy to never feel, smell or curl up with a good book, just to read your content on some technically brilliant, yet hard and cold machine? Hopefully, the growing accessibility and availability of all types of published content will just serve to rejuvenate people’s interest in reading and books – as objects – in general.

Social media is also affecting the way in which people relate to books, authors and publishing companies. I maintain a Twitter feed for two different categories, which allows me to interact with authors and customers. I can get a much better idea of the wants and needs of our readers, which improves the books as a result. Authors are also starting to engage with their audience online. In effect, readers can become editors and influence content, as it is being written, like never before.

So why did I decide to pursue a career in publishing? The most basic of reasons; I thought it would be ideal to combine my love of literature with a job. I’ve always been a passionate reader and was excited to be able to contribute to the writing and production of books. Seeing a project from beginning to end and knowing that I had some influence on the finished product had real appeal to me. I’m also a stickler for correct grammar and spelling, so that side of the job appealed to my attention to detail.
Publishing is such a varied industry and, during the four years in which I have been an Acquisition Editor, I have performed a wide variety of tasks and have gained a wealth of experience. The cliché that no two days are the same is definitely true. On a daily basis, I can be researching new book ideas, developing book outlines with authors, editing chapters, or writing title information sheets.

Publishing is certainly a friendly industry to work in, particularly as everyone shares a passion for books. I have worked with so many great authors and am so grateful that they trust me to comment on and tweak their work.

If digital products really do gain the majority share of published content, then will people – like me – who have a stubborn love of the print book, be put off by a career in publishing? Or will these innovations lead a whole new workforce, audience and, most importantly, great content, to revolutionise our industry?

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  1. Why do so many book lovers demonize e-readers as ‘cold’ compared to paper editions. Personally, I have  very warm feelings towards my Kindle. It carries my whole library, is lighter than any paperback or hardback, and more comfortable to read.

  2. You’re absolutely right… Nothing compares to the smell that comes out of a brand-new book the first time you open it… Long live the printed book!

  3. I agree with Mark, my emotional connection lies with the content and as I hate clutter a Kindle is a massive advantage. But then I was always the type to drop favourite books in the bath! I honestly don’t notice whether I’m reading a print book or not when I’m absorbed in the content.

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