Head of Editorial at Edinburgh University Press, Nicola is also the Publisher for EUP’s highly-regarded Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies list. Having worked in the academic publishing industry for over 20 years, Nicola sat down with IPR so we could see what a day in her life is really like.
How did you get ready to start your day today?
It’s always a mad dash from the house, getting my two kids into the car with all their stuff, as well as making sure I have what I need for the day (phone, headphones, railcard, lunch). A quick check on email as I was in the process of setting up a last-minute meeting with an author when I left the office last night and wanted to see where and when we’d be meeting today. As a general rule I’m pretty strict about not checking email out of office hours as otherwise it can take over and I try not to be in work mode when I’m at home with the family.
What’s the first thing you did when you started work?
Made a cup of tea then checked my emails. I’d missed a deadline for submitting papers for our Press Committee meeting that’s due to take place next week (where the commissioning editors present the projects that they want to sign up to a Committee of academics from the University of Edinburgh – they are there to ensure the high academic standards expected of a University Press are upheld in everything we publish); I was waiting on the last piece of material from a series editor. Luckily it had come in overnight (the series editor is based in the US so, as is often the way, the time difference had been forgotten about and he had sent me the material during what was still his working day – as far as he was concerned it was on time!) so I was able to add it and submit the papers just about on time.
Where did you spend your day? Do you have to travel?
In the office, other than the meeting with an author which took place in a café on the Royal Mile. I do travel fairly frequently – to academic and industry conferences, and for meetings with potential authors. I’m off to the World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies in Seville in July – it’s a tough life…
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Juggling the competing demands of the two roles I have: I’m Head of Editorial so have overall responsibility for our publishing programme, including all strategic and financial decisions, and have a team of 10 people in my area. In addition, I’m the Publisher for our Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies list, commissioning and publishing around 35 new books each year.
What did you accomplish?
We’ve been working with two of our service providers to automate the transfer of data from one to the other; a task that is currently done manually in-house and is very time-consuming. For various technical reasons (most of which are over my head!) this has been dragging on without resolution for longer than I care to remember. However we had a conference call this afternoon at which the right people spoke to each other and – crossing all fingers and toes – it sounds as though they are getting to the root of the problem and, even more importantly, to finding a solution.
What is the best part of your day?
Today it was meeting my author, who was in Edinburgh for the first time and loved the city. As my adopted home (I’ve lived here for 24 years) I always feel very happy to see how much visitors are wowed by the place. We had a good meeting and I’m now even more excited to be publishing his book.
What did you read?
Book proposals, a couple of sample chapters, an article on Open Access monograph publishing (a really big issue in our field at the moment, and I try to keep on top of policy and industry developments in the area). At home I finished Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, which I thought was just wonderful.
Did you listen to music, if so what?
No, I find it really hard to concentrate if I’m listening to music. I do, though, listen to the Kermode & Mayo film review podcast on my train journey to and from work – it passes the time beautifully, although there is always the danger that I will sit shaking with muffled laughter at their wittering, which makes me look a bit odd…
What makes you procrastinate the most?
Anything that comes into the category I like to call ‘maths homework’ – usually big strategy documents which I really enjoy working on once I get going, but which I always put off by dealing with the smaller things first. As emails are constantly coming it is very easy to be distracted.
What do you do when you’re not in work?
Well I have two primary-school aged children, so there is a LOT of ferrying around to music, rugby, swimming, Cubs. We try to get out for family walks when we can (we live in the countryside outside Edinburgh so have loads of lovely places to explore right on our doorstep). I also run two or three times a week (I’m currently training for a 10k). Once the kids are in bed, my other half and I are usually to be found glued to something on Netflix (we’re loving The Crown just now).
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