I don’t often write about work, and my family and friends seem so befuddled about it that I rarely even bring it up. It’s not fascinating or earth-shattering, but I do enjoy it.
First, a little background: When I finished my undergraduate work (English and anthropology), I knew I wanted to work in publishing, preferably academic publishing. I was certain I did not want to teach, and really, what else is there for an English major but publishing or writing? So I continued with a master’s degree in publishing. Was it more than I needed? Perhaps. It also caused a few problems.
Upon completion, the MA in English and Publishing meant I was over-educated for most entry-level publishing jobs, but I lacked the experience for advanced positions. So finding a job was a challenge, and it eventually required that I think way outside the box and move to Vermont. And I’m certainly glad I did.
I’ve now been working as a production editor for just over two years. What does that even mean, though?
Simply stated, a production editor manages content as it moves from the author to the online and print publication. They don’t necessarily do the copy-editing, and we typically don’t where I work. We also aren’t acquisitions editors who choose the content. Those are the scientific associations and societies who contract with production companies like mine. We don’t perform the layout or composition either, as those are the contractors my company hires. But we do make sure the copy-editing and and composition are carried out correctly and on time. So, we’re just the folks in the middle who keep content moving. Some of us oversee copy-editing and author corrections, while others coordinate print and online publishing. And that’s how I’ve spend my days.
I love to see the end result. Compiling the content that becomes an issue that I can hold in my hands was one of the reasons I went into publishing. I prefer having a measurable gauge for my work, and that fit the bill. But I also love the technology that makes all of that possible, and that’s where change enters the picture.
As of this week, I will no longer be a production editor, but a publishing technology support specialist. I’ll get to do some of the same work I’ve been doing over the last two years—digging into XML, working with online hosts, helping customers change the way their content publishes—but hopefully, keeping everything moving smoothly on a deeper level. I’ll get to work with many more customers—not that I haven’t loved working with the current one! But I think I can be more useful and more valuable than before, exploring and utilizing different knowledge and talents. That’s what inspires me to grow and change.
For me it’s not about getting more for myself, but demanding more of myself.