Manchester University Press interviewed students on University of Central Lancashire’s MA Publishing course about their views on publishing in a four-part podcast.
Tony Mason, senior commissioning editor, interviews Victoria McKay, Jasleen Kaur, Abi Baross, Megan Barker, Elsa Carron, and Hannah Blain.
You can find the transcripts for the first two parts below:
Part 1: What first attracted you to publishing?
TM: What attracts you about publishing?
JK: The variety in the industry, because there are so many different sections to it and you can do basically go into anything. And it’s interchangeable as well so, you know, if you started in Rights and decided ‘don’t really like Rights’ you can change to something else and it’s a completely different field.
EC: I think there’s always something new. You’re always working on a new project.
EC: And it’s not going through the motions every time, you have to think creatively about how to work with that project.
HB: It’s not the same thing over and over again every day. There’s something different every day.
AB: I think a lot of us are people who are quite interested in books and reading and stuff and it’s quite nice to be able to sort of be at the forefront, meeting new writers… Especially working in fiction. If that’s something you’re passionate about, it can be quite an exciting industry to work in.
TM: I agree with that.
VM: Yeah, I like as well that you can take pretty much any other area of your life and relate it to publishing in some way.
Part 2: Has anything surprised you based on first few weeks of the course?
TM: So has anything surprised you about publishing based on the first few weeks of the course?
JK: The amount of maths involved.
MB: Yeah, it’s very business-orientated. Which when I first thought about going into the industry, I had no idea and just from a few work experience placements and then this course has been very business-orientated.
EC: I think for me less the business, but the people management. Like, I do not want to be a commissioning editor. That’s way too much dealing with people and their expectations.
AB: I suppose in publishing the proportion of girls on this course –
TM: Did you not know about?
AB: No, not at all.
TM: This year there’s actually a few blokes.
Ab: Yeah, Debbie was saying this the highest amount of boys they’ve ever had on the course.
TM: Yeah, it is percentage wise.
AB: There’s about five out of thirty.
Unknown: Is there that many?
VM: I think there’s been one prior to this year on the course.
AB: They had a year where there were no boys in the whole course.
JK: But then that’s how the industry is, isn’t it? On the lower rungs, it’s quite female-based and then in management positions there’s just guys.
EC: In theater classes and theater studies it’s 90 percent women, but then when you go to actual plays, all the productions are men.
VM: I think unfortunately it’s just commercial. Commercial life, it’s the same regardless of industry.
TM: But you’d hope that publishing, where people are coming from a maybe slightly left-of-centre, kind of aesthetically-pleasing, informed, educated angle, that these kind of things wouldn’t be happening and yet they’re still happening. Board room level –
JK: And also because of that, because where publishing has its roots, it was the aristocra…
JK: That’s the one! They were the people who started this business and it’s sort of, like, you stay where you begin kind of thing. It’s like when people go straight to the back of the bus because that’s where they always sit kind of thing.
VM: Hmm, yeah, it’s still a bit of an all boys club, isn’t it?
TM: Yeah, but we should’ve got away from that yet. But then again why is it all so heavily based in London in this country?
EC: But we’re still waiting for things to catch up as well. I mean ten years down the line there’s probably going to be a very different publishing world.
TM: There could very well be – well, there will be I think. But in that respect, I’ll still be skeptical about whether it will be or not.
JK: I think industries in general are very sort of, as much as they want to embrace change, I don’t think that they do it very easily.
TM: No. No, I think you’re right.
JK: ‘Cause like, we talk about, on a daily basis, marketing conditions and how they change basically on a weekly basis, however on the sort of macrocosmic level things don’t really change.
AB: But the thing as well, they’ve got to try and get the best deal for their shareholders, don’t they? And there’s like loads of reports and statistics to show that if you put a woman in charge of a company the shares, stock prices fall hugely in the first few months. So they’re just wary about putting a woman in charge because they know that people don’t have faith in it, which is stupid, but –
TM: So, society is wrong, isn’t it? We need to change society first, then start changing the industry.
AB: I don’t think people in charge are particularly – it’s that they’re scared of how the general public will perceive it.
TM: It must be the people in charge to some extent.
AB: Yeah, yeah, of course it is.