As you may know, I work in Editorial at Routledge, an academic publisher. I work mostly on the Classical Studies list, which I love, and right now I am in Edinburgh for the Classical Association conference – my very first business trip. This is the first job I’ve had in academic publishing (before I’d only worked in trade) and while it’s been a bit of a learning curve I’ve grown very fond of it.
Coming to this conference is great for several reasons – a little break from the office routine, getting to spend time in Edinburgh – but it is great mostly because I get to meet some of our authors and learn a bit more about their world. At university I got some idea of the life of a professor, but this job has really made it clear. They are constantly busy and working on about a million projects at once, and everyone seems to know each other, which is kinda nice. They are all terribly intelligent and learned, and sometimes forget that other people aren’t. They live mostly in a sort of academic bubble. They are terrible with deadlines. They like a cup of tea and a slightly scruffy outfit. This is the Classics lot at least. I’ve never seen a really neat Classics scholar. This is by no means a bad thing.
I loved Classics at school and almost went on to study it at uni (but English Lit stole my heart) and I still find it fascinating. So I am very fond of all our Classics authors and love hearing about their new books. Academic publishing is very dependent of the schedules of the authors, as well as trends in the scholarship and what’s “in” at the time. It takes a while to adjust to how it all works, and while I might not stay in academic publishing forever, I am very glad to have learned more about it. It is different from trade publishing in that it is frankly more formulaic and you have very different markets and audiences. The whole thing seems to be the same as trade but also completely different, which is difficult to explain if you don’t work in publishing. It’s niche to the Nth degree, which has its pros and cons. The good thing is that you get people who work in academic publishing because they really love their subject and are therefore really passionate about the books they are publishing, which is always a bonus. I’m not sure I could work on social sciences titles like economics or whatever – Classics is just right for me.
Anyway, this was a bit of a waffle, but I just wanted to share a bit about the world of academic publishing. Happy to answer any questions! Here’s to more super niche books that 90% of people don’t understand.