My Job in 5: Debbie Jane Williams
- Describe your role.
That’s not an easy one to answer! I am the founder of UCLan Publishing, which is the only student-led, trade, not for profit, children’s book publisher in the world. I am also an Associate Professor at the University of Central Lancashire and the founder/ Course Leader of the Publishing Masters programme at UCLan. We are based in Preston, Lancashire. For everyone externally, we are no different to any other publishing house and produce very high quality children’s books competing against the biggest and smallest publishers on the open market.
- What do you like best about your role?
Two things – the variety which means that every day is different. I could be working on a fiction book by bestselling authors such as A J Hartley one minute and a book about the moon with NASA another minute. The second thing I love is teaching the students and seeing them transform from students to professional publishers. When we recently picked up the award for Independent Publisher of the Year, many of those that were in the audience who are now professional publishers, were my graduates from our MA Publishing course. This made me so proud and all the hard work worthwhile.
- Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
On the UCLan Publishing side, we are massively expanding at the moment so we are busy signing up new authors and projects, some of them big names. I am also editing the next in our bestselling series by A J Hartley which is called Written Stone Lane, getting ready to go on a national book tour for Blast Off to the Moon book and with Rose Edwards for The Harm Tree (a YA novel like Game of Thrones) and project managing about twelve other books. On the teaching side, I have just validated a new module (the first of its kind) teaching audiobook making skills to students and so we have had to re-write the whole timetable. We still have students with us until August so I am still teaching them and marking their work whilst planning sessions for next year.
- What skills do you need for your role?
Project management is a big one in both my roles as a Director of UCLan Publishing and as a Course Leader and Associate Professor. I have a lot of projects, authors, students, interns and staff to coordinate for both roles and so getting the workflows, planning and time management right is essential. I also have to be very diplomatic with all of the people I work with as I am often asking them to go above and beyond but everyone believes in what we are doing and is so supportive. I am very lucky to work with such fantastic people. Enthusiasm and love for what I am doing also helps!
- What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Definitely do your research carefully on what publishing is, which roles you might enjoy and which skills that you need for those roles. Look beyond editing. For example, if you are an English graduate the first assumption might be that you would go into editing but your writing skills would be very helpful for roles such as marketing as well. Don’t be afraid to go to events such as the London Book Fair and those put on by the Society of Young Publishers because networking (just chatting to people) is so important in publishing and is the only way that you will understand what publishers do all day. You can give yourself the edge by upskilling in programmes such as InDesign and Photoshop; these days you can do this via YouTube and get a free trial for Adobe InDesign at home. Just practice making adverts, Advanced Information sheets so that you have a portfolio. Of course, you can learn all the publishing skills that you need as well as attending fairs, networking and doing a placement as part of our fantastic MA Publishing course and I am always willing to be contacted for advice – DJWilliams1@uclan.ac.uk