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20 March 2023

How winning a Rising Star Award helped my career

I won a Printing Charity Rising Star Award in 2019 whilst working at a small publishing company in Lancaster. As a Publishing and Book Design Assistant, I worked closely with authors to develop their manuscripts into professionally produced books. And as it was a small company, I had the opportunity to work on all aspects of the publishing process like marketing, editorial, sales, and production.

Publishing has historically been quite London-centric (especially pre-pandemic); working tucked away in the north of England, there were few opportunities to fund professional development. I had recently graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, but I was new to the publishing world, with my experience limited to the role I was already in.

One goal was to improve my project-management skills so that I could take on and lead individual projects of my own. I found a course run by the Publishing Training Centre (PTC) in London, that would help me discover more about project management, working with authors and suppliers, learning about budgeting, scheduling and dealing with delays and problems. This course would help me understand the editorial process in depth, making me better at my job. However, the cost of travel, a night’s stay in London and the course fees made it difficult to fund. Then I came across the Printing Charity and their Rising Star Awards (previously the Print Futures Awards).

Applying for an award

The application process was straightforward, with a written submission followed by an in-person interview with the judges. The questions were about what I wanted to fund with the award money and why it would be important to progressing my career. The interview similarly was about me and my ambitions and how the Printing Charity funding would help me with my professional and personal-development skills.

The award ceremony at the House of Lords was the highlight of the whole experience. The opportunity to interact with other award winners and members of the industry was something I hadn’t had before then.

The course I enrolled on with the award was the PTC’s Editorial Project Management – two days covering how to plan a project, budgeting, estimating costs, working with authors and suppliers to develop realistic expectations, and many other interesting skills associated with print and digital project management. Doing this course helped me identify areas to improve on in my working life and boosted my confidence when creating estimates and working closely with authors.

The benefits of the course

One of the unexpected benefits of taking this course was the interaction with others in the publishing industry who worked at bigger publishing houses. It gave me an opportunity to network and learn how a big publisher like Penguin Random House or Oxford University Press operates compared to a small independent publishing company. I also realised the importance of having a rounded understanding of the whole process from start to finish, as many people working in large publishing companies tend to get caught up in the day-to-day nuances of their own work, and never get a glimpse at what it’s like in another department. Having this overview of the editorial process was especially important to me when I started working at Taylor and Francis (T&F) in 2020.

Even though the course I took focused on editorial project management, I learnt many transferable skills that I still use in my current job (Procurement Controller at T&F) working closely with internal production teams and external suppliers to ensure our books are printed and available globally. These skills have helped me manage and lead internal projects on supplier selection, and improve processes.

Having an understanding of editorial schedules, estimating and budgeting helps me manage manufacturing schedules, and work out costs so that we keep to the agreed margin. The skills I’ve learned on negotiating with printers, and dealing with problems and delays, have definitely come in handy – allowing me to understand the bigger picture and see how different departments work together to produce books on time and to budget.

If you are at a stage where you want to progress in your career and know what courses or help you need to get there, then the Rising Star Awards is an opportunity you absolutely cannot miss. Investing in your own professional and personal development is really important to having a satisfying career, and I cannot recommend the Printing Charity enough!

Shristi Kadu

Srishti Kadu is a Procurement Controller in the Books Publishing Services Department at Taylor & Francis. 

You can find full details about the 2023 Rising Star Awards, including FAQs and an application form, on the Printing Charity's website. The closing date for applications is 2 April 2023.