The publishing industry is dominated by women, but men still reap the rewards. Data from some of the UK’s largest publishers reveal a stark divide in pay. Figures reported from Penguin Random House, Hachette UK and HarperCollins reveal that while women make up almost 2/3 of the workforce, on average men are paid more. And around the world, the disparity is even greater when it comes to authors and publishing employees of color, as reported by a NYTimes article (June 2020).
Flavia Marcocci works towards changing this landscape, one podcast at a time.
Flavia is the producer and host of Publishing Insight, an interview podcast on working in publishing. Through her platform, Flavia interviews publishing professionals across a wide array of roles, in both junior and senior positions, from independent and corporate publishers, and gathers advice from publishing professionals for students and young professionals like her, aspiring to a career in the publishing world.
What motivated you to start a podcast about publishing?
I started Publishing Insight as a project for my MA in Digital Publishing at Oxford Brookes University, where I landed because of my passion for books (they’ve always been my biggest passion since I learnt how to read when I was very little!).
After writing dissertations for multiple university degrees in Rome, I welcomed the idea of undertaking a more practical project. I appreciated being able to connect with British publishing professionals across many areas of the industry, internships and networking events. But I was aware that these opportunities weren’t accessible to everyone, so I decided to record podcast interviews with publishing professionals.
Walk us through the process of making a podcast episode.
I try and always be on top of the latest industry trends, reading industry-specific magazines and blogs. In this way I jot down names of publishing professionals that I would like to feature on the podcast. I then write to them and pitch the project to them. If they’re interested, I research and compose questions and send them, so that they have time to prepare, along with a consent form. At the moment, I’m recording my interviews remotely, using Zencastr. Otherwise I would use my Zoom portable recorder. After the interview I comes all the heavy-lifting editing work. When the audio of the episode is ready, I upload it to Buzzsprout, a podcast hosting platform. It’s a lot of work for every episode!
What advice would you give our Bloom readers interested in setting up their own podcast?
First of all, research the market to identify your niche target. Listen to many different podcast series about all kinds of topics, not just your field, to understand what you like in terms of formats and sound effects. Try to be creative, and come up with an idea that can potentially fill a gap in the market or present a different angle than what is offered at the moment in the podcasting world, for your chosen topic. When it comes to editing audio, there are many free softwares available out there, like Audacity or GarageBand for Mac users. Even if you’ve never edited audio files, there are many detailed tutorials on YouTube and it is easy to learn a few tricks to get started. I’m still learning myself, as I am not a professional producer. On a human level, if you interview guests on your podcast, make sure they are always comfortable and at ease.
You've collected career tips/advice from interviews with 22+ professionals in publishing: what have been some of the most useful tips so far?
Uuuh, there are so many! A great idea from Christine Modafferi is to jot down on a notebook all the skills requested in job ads from different publishers for the kind of roles you are interested in, as well as the questions you are asked during job interviews, so you can use them to practice next time if the interview is not successful. Other brilliant advice include learning about all different roles in publishing, not only the most glamorous and popular like Editorial, and gaining commercial awareness about the publisher you are applying to and their catalogue. Publishing is quite a competitive industry to get into, so if you can’t find a job right away, try and find a position in another creative industry, in roles that will help you build transferable skills. Or even when working in a completely different field, you can demonstrate your passion for books through a side project like a book blog or YouTube channel, setting up a book club or a literary magazine. Finally, job searching can feel pretty lonely, so definitely join book communities and associations and attend networking events.
If you could host *any* guest of your choice (living/alive) on your podcast who would it be and why?
I don’t have a big name in mind when I think of people from the publishing industry that I would love to interview, because my purpose with Publishing Insight is to try and represent the whole industry through different voices, which are all inspiring for their own reasons. In this new season I am also trying to interview innovators and founders of publishing startups or professionals who are extremely important for the success of a book, but outside of traditional publishing firms, like literary agents, booksellers and journalists. If I could choose someone from the past that I would love to interview, I would definitely pick Piero Gobetti, who was born in Turin, Italy, in 1901. An amazing trailblazer, Gobetti started his own political and cultural magazine when he wasn’t even 20, and at 22 he founded his own publishing company, which will scout and publish a poetry collection by Eugenio Montale, future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Gobetti died too soon in 1925, killed by fascist groups in Italy and that he fiercely opposed in his work as an essayist and journalist. However, his foresight and vision as an editor and his entrepreneurial spirit make him and his life extremely relevant and aspirational still in our day.
Ada Gobetti, Piero's wife, was pretty damn cool too, and played a major role in the Italian resistance against fascism: "the Italian fascist government taught women that their role was in the home. But Ada Gobetti’s adamant involvement of women in La Resistenza allowed them to fight for their own rights."
Ada and Piero Gobetti’s home library now houses some of the only remaining feminist leaflets circulated during the war.