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?
After 20 years working for government I left to work for the University of Pretoria. I then started studying after hours for the BIS degree in Publishing and then followed the Honours degree and then at the age of 42 applied for a marketing position at Van Schaik Publishers and got addicted to the publishing industry.
Q: Describe your work day, what does your job entail?
- Following up on deadlines of manuscripts with authors
- Checking progress with freelancers [copy editors, proof readers and typesetters]
- Identifying new opportunities for publishing
- Market research – reading, engaging with academics
- Building relationships!
Q: What key traits do you think make a great Publisher?
- Knowledge of the market in which you publish
- Maintaining and building good relationships with academics and authors
- Good communication to keep the value chain within publishing flowing
- Being prepared to remind and motivate authors about deadlines
Q: What is the biggest challenge you would say in being a good Publisher?
Always put yourself in the position of the author – writing can be a lonely process and within academic publishing the author base is academics. Writing and authoring a book is not always their main focus – they might sometimes procrastinate and miss deadlines. You as publisher have to keep them motivated and reasoning with authors the whole time can be draining but ultimately they are the starting point in the publishing value chain!
Q: Books vs eBooks? What is your opinion?
I do not have a specific opinion about hard copy versus soft copy. My only definite opinion is the proper preservation of knowledge and intellectual property to make it accessible to our children and for our children’s children…
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to any aspiring authors considering entering the educational publishing industry?
A good academic textbook gives contributing authors other intangible exposure that contributing to journal articles does not necessary give. Students always, years after they have finished their studies, remember ‘the Oxford University Press Southern Africa book in Public administration’ or ‘Coovadias paediatrics and child health’ book.
Q: In your opinion, what value does a Publisher bring to the process of publishing a good book?
- Firstly – emotional support to the author/s – through listening and following-up
- Then value adding in terms of your own knowledge and experience of the market.
- Value adding when the manuscript goes into formal production [copy editing, layout and design, proof reading]
- Marketing and distribution
Q: Do you advise against self-publishing a book, and why?
Yes I do advise against self-publishing a book. Publishing commercially gives an author other added advantages especially with regards to marketing, sales and distribution.
Q: What additional support does an Oxford Publisher offer their authors, and why is this important?
An Oxford Publisher offers their authors’ stability – we are a well-known established company with processes and systems that ensure that we publish quality products. We have been round the block more than once but we always make sure that we keep abreast of change and innovation.
Q: What makes you proud to be a Publisher?
To see an idea come to full fruition and a product that will add value to the learning process of a student.
Q: On a personal note, what is your favourite book?
All of Lynda La Plante’s books.