Liz Holmes, Production Editor at Macmillan International Higher Education, takes on our 10 questions.
1. Who are you? Where are you based?
Hi. I’m Liz Holmes and I’m a production editor for Red Globe Press books, based in the London office. I’ve worked with Red Globe Press since 2014 when it was known as Palgrave and was based in Basingstoke. I live in Southampton and commute to London twice a week by train, which allows some precious me time as I’m also Mum to a 3 year old. I work from home regularly as well so I have a nice varied working week.
2. How would you describe what you do at MIHE?
My main role, together with my team, is to manage the production of our books from handover of the manuscript from our editorial team, right through to printing and delivery. I make sure all the processes are completed to schedule – copyediting, typesetting, proof checking, indexing, preparation of press ready files, printing and delivery. My day is very varied, which is one of the reasons I love working in production.
3. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve worked on since you’ve been here?
I’ve worked on so many interesting textbooks, from politics and business to language and literature books – too many to go into! Recently I’ve been working on creating an XML design template for Higher Education books. It has been a challenging project, but I’ve learned so much about XML, how it works and how it can contribute towards the more efficient production of our books. The design side has been fun as well, hearing the positive response to the design itself from colleagues and other teams has been very rewarding.
4. What’s the most interesting thing you can see from your desk right now?
I’m working from home today so I’m looking out at my garden. It’s looking good this year, things are getting established and there are lots of plants in bloom. I finally got round to pruning a rose properly this spring, so looking forward to seeing the results of my hard work!
5. What book are you reading at the minute? What do you think of it?
I’m almost finished Hilary Clinton’s book What Happened? It’s about her 2016 election campaign and her thoughts on why and how she lost it. It’s a very good insight into what kind of president Clinton would have been, and also how convinced everyone was that she was going to win, right up to the fact that she had prepared her acceptance speech but it hadn’t occurred to her or any of her team to prepare a concession speech. It’s also been very interesting to read about how much the election result was influenced by outside factors such as the actions of the then Attorney General and the reactions of the media.
6. What’s the one thing you love most about working at MIHE?
My team. They are all fantastic people who are great to work with. We have a lot of fun as well.
7. What advice would you give to wanting to get into production?
My advice would be to prepare yourself for a very varied role, hone your problem-solving skills, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to offering solutions to problems. There may be processes in place that need to be followed but that doesn’t mean they are capable of resolving every possible issue that may arise. And, no matter which area of publishing you want to work in, take an interest in what is going on in the world of publishing in general: it’s important to know the business you work in.
8. What's one thing you've enjoyed recently and would recommend to our readers?
Being Irish, I like to keep up with up and coming musicians at home. I’m currently enjoying Dermot Kennedy’s song, 'Power Over Me'. His lyrics are beautiful and I love the way his Irish accent comes through so strongly in his songs!
9. Describe your typical working day
I’ll start my day by checking emails, and answering any queries that might have come in from copyeditors, typesetters, authors and editors about their titles. Following that, I’ll check my ‘books in production’ report to ensure everything’s on track and there are no outstanding tasks to take care of on my end. If there are, and they are urgent, I’ll take care of them there and then, otherwise I’ll add them to my to-do list. I might then prepare a costing for a project meeting, check a design sample, work on a cast off or schedule for a book that’s about to come into production, send a proof to an editor to check, distribute advance copies that may have come in or chase anything that’s overdue. In the afternoon, I’ll settle down to carrying out a proof check or collating sets of proof corrections from authors, editors and proofreaders. I’m currently copyediting a linguistics book, which requires a lot of focus, so I try to avoid distractions during this time. Before the day ends, I’ll update my ‘books in production’ report with any changes, to ensure it’s as up to date as possible and to prevent anything getting overlooked. I’ll also get my to-do list ready for the next day, hopefully deleting some completed tasks in the process.
10. What’s an interesting fact we might not know about you?
I own a horse! She’s called Azzurra, which is the name of the sailing boat on which myself and my husband first met. I don’t get to see her much as she lives in Ireland but she’s a beauty!