If you’re interested in the publishing industry or simply want to have a closer look at Oxford University Press Southern Africa – look no further than our recurring Publisher Profile feature. Publisher Profiles are brief Q & A sessions with our Publishers which aim to give insight into the mechanics of the Publishing industry, shed light on what it takes to be an Oxford University Press Southern Africa publisher, and give expert advice to anybody interesting in joining the world of Higher Education publishing in South Africa.
Q: How did you find yourself following a career in publishing?
I completed my Masters in English Literature and applied for a position at Oxford University Press SA to be an editor in the Schools publishing team.
Q: Describe your work day, what does your job entail?
The three most important parts of my job are to build and manage relationships with lecturers and authors, conduct market research either on campuses or via the telephone or internet, and finally to conceptualise new product which requires me to rely on the relationships I’ve built and the research I’ve done.
Q: What key traits do you think make a great Publisher?
It is important that publishers have good interpersonal skills, have an eye for detail, and are quick and responsive thinkers.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you would say in being a good Publisher?
The biggest challenge would be to facilitate the changes and challenges involved in keeping up to speed with digital publishing and how this can be rolled out within the confines and reality of the South African socio-economic context.
Q: Books vs eBooks? What is your opinion?
Print books are tangible assets and are far more user-friendly when it comes to navigating. Ebooks are more convenient when on the move.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to any aspiring authors considering entering the educational publishing industry?
Think about your audience. What book do they need or want? Will they buy your book? What makes your book different?
Q: What book project experience did you enjoy most, and why?
The book I enjoyed the most was probably Consumer Behaviour, published in 2013. It was the first book that I commissioned for the Higher Education division.
Q: In your opinion, what value does a Publisher bring to the process of publishing a good book?
A publisher not only has a good sense of the market, but they also have a good sense of the consumer. They can partner with an author to bring the book to its full potential. They have an overview of what is possible, and can guide authors on what the book needs to feel like, what features it should have, how it can support students and how it can be academically rigorous and pedagogically sound.
Q: Do you advise against self-publishing a book, and why?
It might be worthwhile to self-publish some kinds of books, but it is never a good idea to self-publish a textbook. Publishers offer a team of experienced copy editors, designers, typesetters and indexers which do a professional job. Once the book is published we have a sales model which ensures that your textbook has wide coverage in the market.
Q: What additional support does an Oxford Publisher offer their authors, and why is this important?
The support that a publisher offers is invaluable. Very few textbook authors are fulltime authors and it is not their profession. However, publishers bring expertise to the project and can assist by making sure the final product is of a high standard and is easily accessible in the market. Our publishing team in particular offers support in terms of the writing process and OUPSA has won the Sefika Award for Best Academic Publisher several times over the last few years.
Q: What makes you proud to be a Publisher?
I’m proud to be a publisher because I feel that I can make a difference in the education sector by being part of a solution. This solution is to provide excellent textbooks to support and guide students who often struggle with tertiary education due to socio-economic disadvantages which have had a negative impact on their schooling.
Q: On a personal note, what is your favourite book?
My favourite book is The World According to Garp by John Irving.