What does a publisher do?

Many years ago I met the British politician Sir Rhodes Boyson at a drinks reception at the Institute for Economic Affairs.

“What do you do?” he asked me.

“I’m a commissioning editor,” I replied.

“Yes, but what do you do?” he asked.

It was only when I drilled down to the level of the activities that filled my week  – presenting projects at publishing meetings, sending out contracts, and so on – that he was satisfied.

I thought his question was a good one. It made me realise that there were all kinds of jobs about which I know very little in terms of what the people doing them do. My friends who worked as technology consultant, investment manager, systems analyst etc. – I might understand the functions of their jobs (roughly), but I could not tell you what they spent their time doing.

The purpose of the series of posts I’m introducing here, then, is to answer that question – though in relation to the job of publisher, rather than commissioning editor.

There is currently a good deal of discussion online about what publishers do in a more abstract way – what their function is, how they might add value. The current series isn’t designed to deal with such concerns: its aim is more altogether more concrete. I work hard as a publisher: I hope that subsequent posts will manage to convey what, in the process, I actually do.

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3 Responses to “What does a publisher do?”

  1. […] does a publisher do?’ series of posts on this blog. The opening post (10 Dec 2011) is here and the most recent (13th) here. The series continues. Share […]

  2. […] does a publisher do?’ series of posts on this blog. The opening post (10 Dec 2011) is here and the most recent (13th) here. The series continues. Share […]

  3. […] has been running an occasional series entitled ‘What does a publisher do?’. The first post was on 10 December 2011 and the most recent was on 19 […]

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