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The write move

Published on Friday, 11 Oct 2013
Image: iStockphoto
Mary-Jane Newton

Publishing offers an alternate route into the education sector

A teaching job is the obvious choice for those who want to work in the field of education, but for anyone who is turned off by the idea of taking registers, marking coursework or dishing out detentions, there exist many other opportunities that can lead on to a flourishing career.

Jobseekers with an affinity for the written word, good organisational skills and a passion for education might find that pursuing an editorial career in the growing industry for ELT (English language teaching) and CLT (Chinese language teaching) textbooks is a rewarding move.

Mary-Jane Newton, publishing manager at Macmillan Publishers (China) in Hong Kong, says that advances in technology are creating many new opportunities for publishers the world over.

"With the advent of digitalisation, publishing is an ever more stimulating and rewarding industry. Trends are changing rapidly and, while the core business of print book publishing remains central to Macmillan's portfolio, there are exciting developments in e-publishing and augmented book forms," she says.

"In recent years, advances in technology have changed the way in which we learn too, and good teaching materials reflect this. Moreover, China is a market which is developing fast. Needless to say, all this offers countless challenges and opportunities."

Newton explains that to succeed in the industry requires certain qualifications and skills, but that while prior teaching experience is desirable, it is not a prerequisite.

"Successful candidates will have a bachelor's degree or higher in English language or literature, communication or journalism. Teaching experience and/or prior editorial experience at an international publishing house is always preferred. Computer literacy and strong planning and organisational skills are core competences. Above all, candidates should have exceptional verbal and written communication skills," she says.

She adds that Macmillan particularly values people with a passion for language learning and science education. A meticulous nature and a fine eye for detail, while keeping the bigger picture in mind, are also sought-after qualities, as is the ability to communicate effectively across cultures.

Macmillan welcomes applications from first-time jobseekers looking to join the industry for editorial internships or editorial-assistant posts. More experienced professions are able to join as editors and project editors when such vacancies appear.

The career path for a successful candidate starting in an editorial-assistant position can see them move up the editorial ranks before taking a broader role as a publishing manager, publisher or publishing director. Newton points out that timelines for such progression vary widely and are often determined by the size of the publishing house.

She adds that Macmillan provides many and varied training opportunities for its editors to make sure they are among the best in the industry. "At the end of their training, editors will be familiar with all stages of print and digital book production," she says. "All our editors are proficient in using an internationally recognised editorial shorthand and understand typesetting, design and layout. They are familiar with audio and media production, and know basic intellectual property law."

The publishing house also makes sure its development initiatives are forward-looking and prepare editors for the future. "Training also covers new trends in the industry, for example the way in which learning analytics are integrated into digital learning platforms," Newton says.

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