Arkbound’s Steve Mcnaught introduces the Publishing Excellence Programme
It’s well known by now that the publishing industry has a poor record in attracting employees from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds. In Publishing's Diversity Deficit
by Professor Claire Squires, it is noted that on average more than 90% of publishers’ workforces are white, with very few coming from lower income families.
The situation is compounded by the use of unpaid internships, with no expenses, to provide the experience that is necessary to gain a formal position—a model that is hard to avoid for some smaller, independent publishers who cannot afford to take risks on new staff. The industry is also geographically centred around London, which leads to a large number of young people, from a broad range of backgrounds and areas of the UK, being unable to enter publishing. This in turn deprives publishers, authors and readers of many different types of experience and perspectives.
A number of initiatives have been created to enable people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the publishing industry, the most prominent of which was Creative Access
. In early 2017, after it was announced that Creative Access would have its funding for bursaries cut, a handful of pioneering publishers across the UK launched what is now the Publishing Excellence Programme.
Realising that new entrants needed a combination of structured training as well as in-office experience, the Programme allows candidates to work in real publishing houses, with the potential to lead on to paid roles. Candidates can choose from an eight-week programme that focuses on several aspects of book publishing, or a twelve-week programme that covers books and magazines. Both have been designed to allow candidates to develop a first-hand understanding of the publishing process from start to finish. Modules focus on core skills such as proofreading and editing, while building knowledge of processes from formatting manuscripts to managing author-publisher relationships.
In addition to the knowledge and experience gained through the Programme, candidates get certification, a detailed reference and support for their next steps. This includes first selection for roles within the host publisher or referral to partner companies. During the Programme, candidates also have the chance to establish useful connections within the industry, with the option to work in different locations and take part in seminars and creative workshops. Some successful candidates have even gone on to start their own publishing outlets.
This year the Printing Charity, through its Print Futures Awards
, sponsored 15 candidates on the Publishing Excellence Programme, covering all the costs together with expenses incurred by participants, such as travel and accommodation. It is the largest single intake through Print Futures, and there are a number of other funding avenues that enable candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds to undertake the Programme. For others who are able to pay, the Programme has a cost that is set below the hourly equivalent charged by other publishing training courses.
Now in its second year of operation, the Publishing Excellence Programme is open to other publishers who would be interested in joining as training providers. For any publisher looking to acquire new talent, or simply to open doorways for those who would otherwise be denied entry into the industry, the Programme is an excellent opportunity. Moreover, it can provide an additional income stream and lead to future in-roads within different outlets, such as journalism and media.
Steve Mcnaught is editor-in-chief at Arkbound