When it comes to developing your career in journal publishing, we all have to start somewhere. If you’re already working at a journal publisher, the first step is to become well-known within your own company. Make sure you know who all the key decision-makers are within your publisher and make damn-well sure they know who you are. Speak up in meetings, ask questions after they give presentations. Don’t be scared to ask questions; people hate giving presentations and then not having any questions asked afterwards by the audience, it leaves the speaker wondering whether anyone was really listening. Ask that question, the speaker will remember you.
Don’t wait and complete number one on this list before moving onto number two. You can reach out to people externally while also developing your internal network. Start by identifying a handful of industry leaders who specialise in specific topics. You could try reaching out by email, but these people receive a lot of emails and it’s likely that you’ll be lost in the mountain of requests they receive. I recommend you find them on LinkedIn and message them about an upcoming talk or webinar they are contributing to. Then, go to that webinar or in-person event and offer to buy them a coffee or hot drink in exchange for 5 minutes of their time. This will go a long way in building your network, and you might learn something interesting as well, bonus!
Check out what topics are being discussed at the main industry conferences. This will give you an indication about what is on people’s minds and might help you to predict some of the upcoming changes that may affect your company as well. Watch #OpenAccess on Twitter for the latest news on the move to OA.
Sometimes the journey to your “dream job” isn’t a clear-cut vertical one. One of the best ways to develop a career in publishing is through accepting lateral moves or temporary secondments. This allows you to develop the breadth of your knowledge, expand your network, and find out what role in publishing is right for you before you put all your eggs in one basket.
Maybe the most challenging recommendation on this list is to find your niche. Your niche needs to be something that you excel at, that your publisher needs, or maybe doesn’t have enough people with this skill just yet. It also needs to be something you enjoy. For me, I love networking and creating new connections, I also love the thrill of sales, so I made this my niche and eventually I was able to move into a role specifically focused on making new partnerships on behalf of my publisher.
I started a workplace choir with the intention of getting people together to have a bit of fun, a chat and sing at lunch. Little did I know that this choir would help me to become what my manager later called me, ‘one of the most well-connected people in the company’. I had developed a network of people who knew me, and this network has proved to be invaluable. All because I wanted to get a group together to sing at lunchtime! You might not be able to create a choir, but you could organise a book club, a regular social event, or a networking evening, anything that will help you to develop your network, both inside your company, and externally.
I’ve mentioned conferences above, but it needs its own number in this list. Not enough early career publishing professionals attend conferences, probably because they can be expensive. You can apply for funding from your publisher to attend conferences for your personal development. Some great ones include Association of Learned and Professional Scholarly Publishers‘ (ALPSP) annual conference and the Society for Scholarly Publishing‘s conference. There are also some fantastic webinars throughout the year which are free to attend online. Keep an eye on MugsPubs for regular updates on the best webinars to register for.
There are lots of activities to be involved in on an extra-curricular basis, from volunteering for committees to supporting the organisation of webinars. You could also get involved with the Society of Young Publishers and apply to be on one of their committees. ALPSP also have a great mentoring program available.
Journal publishing is a billion-dollar industry, and we are primarily a customer service industry. So get to know your customers! Make sure you are speaking with researchers, connect with them on LinkedIn, and contribute to the debates on Twitter. To make sure we are meeting our customers’ needs, we need to understand their concerns. Having a strong understanding of this will help you to progress in your own career.
Having the mindset of teaching and leading, even at the start of your publishing career, is key to establishing your career in the journal publishing industry. By no means do I consider myself a “leader” in the industry, and I have struggled myself with varying degrees of imposter syndrome, but I believe that it is important to hold the mindset that you have something worthwhile to contribute and what you have to say is of value to others. When you value yourself and your contribution, and importantly, when you make your contribution heard, you will have created a strong foundation for your career in journal publishing.