Maeve Dunne, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at The Publishers Association, talks about her experience of moving into the publishing sector.
I work in policy and public affairs at the Publishers Association; communicating the interests of publishers to government. Prior to my role at the PA, I worked in press for financial services, but I knew I wanted a career change to focus more on policy making.
I put a lot of thought into what policy I’d like to work on and what industry would suit me. My press job involved writing copy for newspaper articles and working closely with journalists, so I already had a little bit of knowledge of the publishing industry. Meanwhile, away from work, I spend my spare time reading relentlessly, both to relax but also as a shared hobby with friends.
When the opportunity arose to join the Publishers Association, I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d found an industry that peaked my personal interest but was also familiar to me through my previous work in press. Taken together, the career change jump seemed less intimidating.
Since joining the Publishers Association, I’ve found working in the creative industries to be immensely rewarding. Publishers have great social utility; they drive both imagination and innovation by connecting people with stories, research and educational material. There’s also something special about the creation of literature. As a society, we haven’t tired of the art of book gifting. Choosing a book for a loved one, or for yourself, is still as popular as ever. I’m glad to be part of the process that ensures this practice can continue by getting content to market.
I’ve also learnt about the complex role the publisher plays in creating a finished product; it’s not just about editorial work. From sourcing a manuscript, to supporting an author or academic, to promoting the product; it’s a long, nuanced process that requires specific expertise. I now have a new found understanding of what it takes to get a book on the shelf of our favourite book shop.
I’m still learning about the publishing industry, but my advice to anyone wishing to join it would be to take advantage of opportunities like Work in Publishing Week to get an idea of the roles available and to ask questions. My experience of publishing so far has been one of open dialogue and honest conversation; the industry isn’t hierarchical or exclusive. Many if not all of those within the industry are keen to make sure it is wide open to as many new voices as possible. After all, diversity is key to making sure there is something for everyone’s bookshelf.
Work in Publishing Week (19th-23rd November 2019) is a week long campaign to celebrate careers in publishing.