Describe your role.
I am professor of publishing at Kingston University and the founder of two book-sharing projects. The Kingston University Big Read welcomes our new students with a bespoke copy of a book that they are encouraged to read before arrival. Reading Force encourages Forces families to offset the impact of significant change, and particularly separation, through shared reading. Both are personal. I was a nervous first-generation student myself, and an Army wife for 30 years.
What do you enjoy about your role?
I love working with the next generation of publishers. We take great pride in our students and their really varied careers. We appreciate that they keep in touch, let us know about their promotions and new initiatives—and come back and talk to their successors. I also find it so satisfying to be running book-sharing schemes. Over the past few weeks, seeing these projects appreciated has been the culmination of a career spent encouraging others to read.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m finishing off my marking and mentoring dissertation students—I enjoy experiencing their enthusiasm and learning with them. The book-sharing projects are also keeping me really busy. We had the immense good sense to choose Emily Maitlis’ Airhead as our 2020 Big Read, and are offering her book/e-book across our entire university community. One title to keep everyone connected.
What skills do you need for your role?
An ability to juggle my time: preparing my classes for the academic year ahead; booking speakers to come to Kingston; liaising across the university on book-related initiatives and steering the reading projects by working with such dedicated colleagues. A good memory is a big help, an ability to multi-task and, of course, a passion for publishing. I continue to feel proud to work in the industry, the contribution we make to encourage reading is really valuable.
What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
The most important attribute for any publisher is curiosity. You need to be interested in people—and not just people like you—and what fascinates them. Publishers seek to anticipate the information and leisure needs of the whole spectrum of society—and resource what they might find attractive. You also need a taste for entrepreneurialism and risk-taking, and persuasiveness.