Posted 15.01.16 by prhcareers
“Every day is different because every book is different.”
Hello, Annie – so you’re a Producer – what does that mean?
In production we work on the book from final manuscript to finished books. I work across two divisions – Penguin General and Michael Joseph. Penguin General is quite literary, while Michael Joseph is commercial, so I work on a wide range of books. For example, recently I have been working on a biography of Charlotte Brontë, a diet book, and the adult Ladybird titles. Basically, once the manuscript is finalised in editorial, we start the production of the book: we get it typeset; we coordinate the schedule and costs of production (e.g. what finishes are affordable and appropriate); if necessary we organise quotes from suppliers – whether that is for printing the book, special finishes, hand drawn artwork or maps; we organise conversion to ebook; and finally we send the files to press. We then check the final book as it comes in, and if it is a colour book, we check the printed sheets prior to binding to ensure the colour is as expected. We are the first people to see the finished product, which is always very exciting.
Where were you before Penguin Random House?
I came straight to Penguin Random House from uni – I studied Physical Geography – proof you don’t need to study English to work in publishing! I had worked as a Producer at the uni radio station, so had some experience of coordinating a project – but nothing on the same scale as the books I work on now!
What’s it like to do Production at Penguin Random House?
Production is a great department, because you get to work with almost all the other departments – from editorial, art and marketing to stock, sales and finance. It’s a really collaborative role, and every day is different because every book is different.
What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you at work this week?
The most exciting thing for us is always getting the new books in. Opening the box is scary – what if something’s gone wrong?! – but it is always satisfying. This week I got the printed sheets of a new colour book I have been working on – it was really exciting to see in hard copy, instead of just on screen or on proofs.
Best thing about your job?
The best thing would have to be the people – everyone is friendly, passionate about what they are doing, and always eager to help! Aside from that, I have always been a big reader, so to be able to work with books every day is brilliant – I have a “To Read” list about a million miles long.
Biggest challenge to your job?
It’s difficult to maintain the right balance between the OCD-like level of perfectionism and detail that is required for production with an ability to see the bigger picture.
All-time favourite book/story?
That’s a really difficult question, as it changes all the time! Little Lord Fauntleroy stuck with me for a long time. Elizabeth Is Missing was a big book for us in 2015 so I read it and loved it immediately. Tomorrow When the War Began is one I read when I was a teenager in Australia, and I go back to it every year or so and have another read! I have become a bit of a crime fan since working at in Michael Joseph, so am very into books by Jussi Adler-Olsen and MJ Arlidge. At the moment I am also singing the praises of Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. It’s a great story with some very dark twists.
I don’t feel guilty about things that give me pleasure – what’s the point in doing them if you do?! Just enjoy them!