New to publishing – a journey

New to publishing

This is a guest post from Amber Bullingham. Amber is 26 and has been working in the publishing industry as a desk editor for nine months. She originally studied biology and has a keen interest in science communication. You can follow Amber on Twitter @sciencythings13

A career in publishing was never on my radar, and my route into it has been a little unorthodox and taken a few years, but now I am here I cannot imagine doing anything else!

At 16, I had no idea what I wanted to ‘be’, and I had grown disillusioned with school. Instead of thinking too far ahead, I made a decision that was right for me at that time: to leave the academic environment and do a vocational course. I loved science and animals, so a National Diploma in Animal Management, which included an interesting mix of science-based and practical animal management modules, was an easy choice.

Vocational college was a breath of fresh air after years of intensive academic study and testing! I was still encouraged to apply to university, and accepted a place studying biology. However, I knew I wasn’t quite ready to leave home, so I deferred (and eventually declined) my place to go into work.
I worked in customer service and, whilst I enjoyed the money, after a year or so I couldn’t ignore the pull of academia. I reapplied to university and was reaccepted, eventually starting my biology degree just before my 21st birthday.

Midway through my degree I took a careers-based unit, which introduced me to the world of peer-review and science communication. I really enjoyed the editing side and, through a university partnership, I was able to do some volunteer work writing articles for a science communication website. I started to wonder – how could I combine my science degree and writing skills?

Upon graduation, I took a job as a marketing assistant with a small training company, which offered me the opportunity to gain experience in a wide range of areas, including driving the production behind my boss’ self-published handbooks. Editing and proofreading documents fast became my favourite task. Meanwhile, I started a part time postgraduate course in science communication, and wrote short pieces for a science news website.

After a year, I started poking around the science publication job market to see if there was a way I utilise my love and studies of science with my editing skills. When I happened upon a desk editor role working in veterinary publications, everything seemed to click in to place.

I was nervous at the interview – my experience in publishing was very limited. However, I was confident I could do the job; I had nine years’ worth of varied experience to bring with me, including the necessary science degree, customer service skills (essential for dealing with authors!) and demonstrable interest in editing and writing scientific material. Thankfully, my new employers agreed!

Nine months on and I am enjoying my role more than ever. I work as a desk editor, and my roles include copy editing and proofreading manuals and other publications. I am responsible for project managing a number of different projects, liaising with internal and external authors, typesetters, illustrators and other freelancers, and it is great to see a project develop from numerous raw component parts to an expansive, valued end product. I have my first professional training course booked and I am optimistic about my future in this field. It’s taken nearly ten years and a few twists and turns, but I have finally found my niche.

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