Session 1 – Introduction (01.10.15)

The first lecture for the Editorial and Production module introduced me to various forms of editing. Prior to this session, I was ignorant to the fact that there was more than one kind, so straight away I was learning. Led by Anthony Mason, the Senior Commissioning Editor for Manchester University Press, I discovered what was involved in each.
Commissioning editing involves the analysis of proposals and the signing up of books, as well as the consideration of the marketing benefits a book may make. Questions a commission editor may ask include: will this book make money? Will this book allow us to meet our target(s)? Looking at past trends also helps commissioning editors to assess the likelihood of profit on a book. In terms of academic publishing, peer reviews from other professionals in a certain area are used to determine the quality of the proposals content. This is a form of editing I had not known in the past.
The other editing form I learnt was production editing, which involves the editing of the book itself and the change of content and format. I had more of an understanding for this already but it was still insightful to be able to deduce the difference from commission editing.
To expand on commission editing, I discovered that even this can be branched off into three categories: proactive commissioning, reactive commissioning, and collaborative commissioning.
Proactive commissioning involves undertaking market research, and in academic publishing, academic callings to search for authors. Reactive commissioning is when someone has a proposal to present and the commissioning editor has not had to approach or find them. Collaborative commissioning combines both proactive and reactive. Arguably, this form is most beneficial and effective to work by due to the fact that you gain more authors, and hopefully, more money.
I feel that I could have contributed more to the group discussion in topics such as publishing cycles, and debate over author anonymity in peer reviews, and this is something I will aim to work on for next weeks session: involvement in discussion.
Unexpectedly too, was the opportunity to apply practical work in this session. I got the chance to write and send a practice email to an author who had a complaint with their book not being on the shelves of their local Waterstone’s store. Working with a fellow peer, we formulated a response, to which we aimed to be as professional as possible. We had a choice in how to approach the email; whether it be professional and sympathetic, aggressive, or tentative. The point of this was for us to see how the relationship with the author is critical in publishing. It also gave me the chance to actively comprehend the typical tasks a commissioning editor would likely be doing.
Overall, the first session was both enjoyable and informative. I feel confident as I go into the second week, eager to learn more and partake in more fun tasks.

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