Simon studied for a master's degree in Publishing at City, University of London, and graduated in 2015.
What do you do now? What do you enjoy about what you do?
I’m the first non-founding employee at Canelo, a new kind of digital publisher. I work on everything from commissioning books, to editing them, briefing cover designers, managing freelance editors, designing marketing collateral, and making the books themselves. I love the variety and challenge in what I do, the fact that we’re breaking ground in digital publishing, and that I get to work in a highly supportive startup environment with some of the best commercial authors in the business.
What path have you taken to get there? Were there any particular areas of interest that lead to you specialising?
I worked in ebook development briefly before moving to the UK, though I originally trained as a lawyer. I did an internship at a digital publishing company a few years ago, and realised that I enjoyed the technical challenge of making ebooks – and that it would be an important growth area for publishing in the future.
Why did you choose to study at City, University of London and how has it helped you?
I chose to study at City for a few reasons. Firstly, I wanted to get a sense of the UK’s publishing industry and build contacts here. City’s alumni have gone on to do some impressive things, and indeed my line manager is himself a City alumnus. Secondly, I wanted to hone my practical skills and knowledge of technical areas like scheduling and costing. Finally, I wanted to gain a solid academic understanding of publishing’s long history.
What did you enjoy most about your course?
I appreciated the wide range of industry visitors – hearing from one or two every week was a great way to build contacts and gain insight into the operations of publishers working across the spectrum. I also enjoyed the fact that our lecturers had all themselves worked in publishing, and that some continued to do so. I found the practical aspects of the course particularly useful.
What was the hardest part of your course?
Researching publishing is tricky, and writing my dissertation – on small publishers’ ebook businesses – was a lot of work. The literature in some areas is thin, which means that you may find yourself having to conduct entirely original research. Obviously, this is both a challenge and a huge opportunity.
What was your favourite part of being a City Student?
I loved the small, tight-knit classes, which really build a sense of camaraderie. I got to know my classmates really well during the course, and still keep in touch with most of them. Having an instant group of friends made moving to the UK so much easier.
If you could give one piece of advice to a prospective City Publishing student, what would it be?
Make the most of the practical side as well as the theoretical – you have resources available to you at City (including Nielsen BookScan) that are very valuable. I’m biased, but digital skills will always come in handy – particularly in the Adobe Creative Suite.
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