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Me and My Job: Julia How
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Posted by IPG

1 What is your job title and company? And roughly how many people work for your company?

I am a partner and co-founder of The Witcherley Book Company. Currently there's just me and one other part-time person.

2 What are your qualifications and working background, and when and how did you take on your current job?

I’m a big fan of the Open University and have taken 17 courses with them over the years, so have a range of largely computing qualifications. Initially I started in publishing as an evening and weekend job, with the first books published being those of my partner. But I was made redundant from my IT consultant job last year and decided, since publishing was much more fun, to concentrate on that full-time. I still keep an interest in IT though, and am a member of two other IPG member organizations: BCS and IET.

3 What does your average working day entail?

I’m not sure there is an average day as each one differs depending upon where we are in the production cycle. I always start the day on Twitter. Most days I then go through my mail, which includes reviewing the many newsletters I’ve subscribed to. The day is then a mixture of deciding what books to do next, copy-editing, testing and quality checks, writing marketing copy, building websites, designing books and covers, converting ebooks, book-keeping and documentation, IT support, recording and editing videos and setting up and monitoring adverts—all interspersed with more social media. I also get to keep my hand in as a teccy by writing any computer routines and programs I think will be useful. In addition I read quite a few books about publishing.

4 What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety and freedom to experiment. And of course I’m still thrilled when the first proof copy of a new book is printed.

5 What achievements are you most proud of?

Probably when I decided to take a risk by commissioning a top designer for a cover redesign for a book series. Shortly afterwards we were accepted for our first BookBub promotion, which makes an enormous difference to sales, and got to number one in our genre on Amazon.

6 What are your biggest challenges?

Selling enough books. Increasing book discoverability and getting enough reviews. Keeping on top of the to-do list, as I always feel there is more we could be doing.

7 What have you experienced in your job and publishing that you didn’t expect?

I didn’t expect to become a full-time publisher at all, but enjoyed it so much that when I was made redundant I didn’t want to do anything else.

8 What is the best thing about working for an independent publisher?

It is great fun. I’ve never had a job before that I liked doing so much. I just love the variety and even enjoy some of the more tedious jobs like quality checks.

9 How do you switch off from your work?

I initially did everything I do now in the evenings and weekends, so not working then seems like lost time. But I do quite a lot of exercise of various sorts and play the piano. I spend quite a lot of time looking after elderly relatives, which usually means I can’t then do anything publishing-related, unless a deadline is looming.

10 What advice would you give anyone wanting to start or progress a career in publishing?

Listen to some of the many free webinars and read blogs related to publishing and marketing: for instance those from Book Machine, Nielsen, Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn, Bublish, Mark Dawson, Bryan Cohen, and of course the IPG. If you want to experiment and try something new then it is quite likely that someone has tried it already and has written or recorded something about it.

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