As someone who has never worked in an environment quite like that of a Publishing House, Ransom has given me a tremendous insight into the business in the space of just three days. Short but sweet – and very enlightening.
Since my personal interest lies with the editorial side of publishing, I was offered the opportunity to assist with the tasks that revolved around commissioning and proof-reading. These are things that have intrigued me for some time now: the whole process of how books are chosen to be published, and then the scrutiny of editing and proof-reading undertaken before the distribution of the text/novel. To an outsider, the final product might appear to be just another book, but I can assure you that piece of work has been put through the ringer before being allowed on the shelves.
The commissioning I was involved in was particularly in relation to Ransom’s imprint – Raven – hoping to bring something fresh and exciting to the genre of Young Adult fiction. The process of commissioning often starts with the publisher having manuscript after manuscript flooding in. Although this is great, it does come down to a couple of people reading through and choosing what is suitable to fit the target audience. But you never know, you might find the next Worst Witch or Lemony Snicket – which always promises a good read. The alternative method of commissioning means hunting authors down, instead of waiting for them to find you – more efficient maybe, but sometimes the best ideas can be worth the wait!
In my limited experience of this process it does involve a lot of time, even when just skimming the submissions to get a feel for their suitability. But what I enjoyed was being able to read something light-hearted and fun (in comparison to the books I read at University). I was able to read through several manuscripts that had been sent in as hopeful and potential titles for the new year. It was endearing to see the effort and dedication offered by these budding authors.
After this crucial stage is complete and you have picked your texts, next comes the proof-reading. A lot more difficult and not for the faint-hearted. Be prepared to spend a lot of time reading and re-reading and picking out mistakes. But it’s all character building. Personally, I think this is one of the things that I enjoyed the most. Being an English and History student, I live to meticulously read texts. Although I enjoyed this stage, that doesn’t mean I didn’t find it challenging. Trying to find mistakes can sometimes feel like more of a challenge when that is the only purpose of reading. And since it is a critical stage of the whole publishing process, I did feel anxious about missing things out.
I would not expect to know everything about the business after three days, or even be able to perfect any methods I have learnt. But my time at Ransom has felt rewarding, and has affirmed that a career in publishing and editing is the career for me.
English and History Student, Leicester University