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Me and My Job: Alasdair Craig
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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’m a freelance commissioning editor for Hurst & Co. We publish about 90 trade and academic non-fiction books a year. The company has expanded significantly since I joined in 2014: there are now eight full-time members of staff, plus freelancers.

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

I began as in intern at Hurst in June 2014, off the back of a speculative email. I was attracted to Hurst by its incredibly strong Middle East studies list and its fiercely independent spirit. Before that I worked in various odd jobs (none related to publishing) and did a BA in History and an MA in Philosophy.

3 What does your average working day entail?

Since I’m freelance and am also studying Philosophy again, my days are very varied. I’ll usually be approaching potential authors or developing projects with current authors. If I’m editing a manuscript then I’ll try to do this to the exclusion of all else for at least a whole morning or afternoon every day. Although the vast majority of my work is done in front of my laptop, I try to meet authors in person when geography allows.

4 What do you enjoy most about your job?

The most exciting part of my job is definitely hearing from potential authors about ideas for books.

5 What achievements are you most proud of?

As with most commissioning editors, I imagine, I am most proud when a book I commissioned and believe in gets enthusiastically reviewed and, even better, sells lots of copies. I’m proud to work for a company whose books are so consistently well-received by reviewers and readers.

6 What are your biggest challenges?

My biggest challenge has been learning to juggle lots of tasks at once. My natural style is to work on one thing at a time, and not move on to something else until it’s finished. That is not often possible in publishing, and I’ve had to adapt to become a multi-tasker.

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

I remember reading a lot about the travails of the publishing industry before I got my job at Hurst. But, from the inside, the industry feels surprisingly buoyant.

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

There are lots of great things. Even early in your career you can get involved in many different aspects of the publishing process. At larger companies I think this is difficult to do. I also love the DIY ethos at Hurst, which I imagine exists at most independents.

9 How do you switch off from your work?

Mostly by reading! I also love to cycle.

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

My advice for the beginning of your career is to try to intern (and then hopefully get a job) at an independent rather than a corporate publisher. It will give you a far more exhaustive picture of what goes into publishing a book, and will, I think, lead to more opportunities further down the track in your career.

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