It's now been a month since I started my new publishing job! I'm really enjoying getting stuck into digital publishing, working on the digital audiobooks and backlist ebooks. There's lots to learn - people, systems, procedures and so on, but it's gradually beginning to fit together and make sense.
I've decided to share some of the things I learn about publishing, for your possible interest and amusement. First up, is the essential knowledge that cake makes the publishing world go round.
My perceptions might be slightly skewed by the fact that there was an office Bake-Off the first Monday I was in the job, which apparently happens every couple of months. Loads of people had baked cake and brought it in. The cakes were labelled with descriptions, and everyone was invited to try them and vote for their favourite. Naturally, I had to sample them all in order to be able to give a fair and informed opinion.
Cake is also important whenever it's someone's birthday, which seems to happen around once a week or so. Gather round, sing happy birthday, eat cake. It's a nice distraction from work for a few minutes, and chance to chat with people from around the office.
On the Friday of my first week, I brought in some cake and put it out on my desk, and sent an email round to invite people to eat cake and say hello. It was like putting up the Batsignal, only instead of a masked vigilante instantly appearing, I had a crowd of colleagues!
Another regular occurrence is a "carpet shuffle" for some author or other, again, usually around once a week. This is usually on or around publication of their latest book, and is a reception for the author in the foyer with drinks and nibbles. Everyone applauds the author, and their editor says a few words about how wonderful their book is and how great they are to work with. The author sometimes says a few appreciative words of their own, and then people mill around chatting and finishing their drinks and nibbles.
It's really nice to have chance to see the authors and welcome them. This week we had a carpet shuffle for Miranda Hart, because the paperback of her book Is it Just Me? is out now. It was absolutely packed, since everyone wanted to see her. I was at the back of the crowd, so could just about see the sunglasses on the top of her head. Carpet shuffles aren't really cake-based, though there are sometimes some brownie-bite type snacks among the nibbles. But they are another example of the importance of food and drink in publishing!
All the cake might be a common feature simply of larger office environments - do you have lots of cake where you work? But when I was working at Cardiff University, there was never this much cake, so I strongly suspect that cake flourishes disproportionately in publishing. Publishing has quite a friendly working culture, especially if you bring cake.
The next thing I learned about publishing was the tradition known as "summer hours", so stay tuned for my next lesson!