The Professionals’ Guide to Publishing: A practical introduction to working in the publish …

by Gill Davies and Richard Balkwill (London: Kogan Page, 2011): 320pp, £25 (pbk), ISBN 978 0 7494 5541 5, e-ISBN 978 0 7494 6258 1.

Reviewed by Gillian Clarke

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This is a thorough introduction for anyone who wishes to become an employee in book publishing. Although there's not much coverage of journal publishing, the principles can probably be regarded as very similar.

'Are we not professionals?'

The text and examples/case studies cover both consumer and specialist publishing. The legal issues covered include contracts, copyright, data protection and permissions – which can be very tricky areas. Profit-and-loss aspects are dealt with in helpful detail, pointing out traps that the unwary might fall into when working out 'net profit'.

There's a six-page glossary, a short list of publishing acronyms and a moderate-sized index (7 pages), which lists 'freelancing' under 'publishing services' (not my first choice of search). One could be miffed that freelance editors are included only in passing – are we not professionals? And was it really necessary to mention that a serious typesetting error was missed by the freelance copy-editor [sic]?

Minor grammatical infelicities

I was a bit surprised not to see anything about training/continuing professional development, but each chapter has a useful section of further reading. The end of chapter 2 ('Publishing as a business') recommends Inside Book Publishing, with which I concur (see my review). That book is probably of more interest to freelancers wanting an overview of the industry.

Although I was very slightly distracted by some minor grammatical infelicities, I learned a great deal about the business side of publishing. This is no bad thing, as we freelance editorial people sometimes lose sight of the fact that our clients must make a profit to survive – and keep using our services.

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