When I made the decision to change career and apply for my MA in Publishing, I wanted to find out as much information as possible. I joined the world of book twitter, started liking bookstagram accounts, took out a subscription to The Bookseller and signed up to LinkedIn. I contacted an industry professional and was told about internships and work experience, so I started researching them and planning my new adventure, hoping to equip myself with the skills for my new career. Unfortunately, it was at this time that the pandemic hit meaning applications stopped and everything went online. I signed up for several online webinars focusing on skills that would be useful in a publishing career and in addition to the expected topics of proofreading, spreadsheets and word-processing was introduced to Adobe InDesign and Photoshop.
My heart sank a little. I’d never heard of InDesign before and Photoshop filled me with fear. Despite regarding myself as a creative – I love to write – I don’t have a design background, so how would I ever be able to develop the skills to use such complicated software? Have I left it too late – should I have been using these programmes for years? Instead, as a former English teacher, I signed up for a proofreading and copyediting course and pushed all thoughts of Adobe to the back of my mind, hoping that my confidence would grow once my MA started.
Sitting here now, only a few months later, I don’t know why I was so worried!
Within the first few hours of the MA starting, I knew I would get lots of support in developing so many new skills, Adobe Creative Cloud included. From podcasting with Adobe Audition, typesetting with Adobe InDesign and working on creative assets in Adobe Photoshop my MA experience has it all. Plus, our tutor, Wayne, is incredibly knowledgeable and extremely patient in helping us to understand. We’ve had several sessions on each of the technologies and get to apply our new-found understanding to industry-specific projects.
As part of one assignment, I am planning and recording a podcast episode, something I have never done before. After only one two-hour session I was amazed that I was able to remove all the unnecessary fillers from a short practice recording– there were A LOT of ‘erms’ and pauses – add music to the opening and closing sections and convert the file to an MP3.
Typesetting is essential to publishing and I’ve learned that even if you don’t want to be a typesetter, having a sound working knowledge of InDesign can only be a good thing. Faced with hundreds of icons upon opening, the programme certainly looks like it might take years to master. However, in just a few short months I’ve already learnt about paragraph styles, master pages, inserting images, using text wrap and lots of other handy hints and tips. I still have a lot to learn and practise but my confidence levels are improving weekly. I’ve even volunteered to undertake some typesetting work for a digital magazine, something I definitely wouldn’t have felt able to do without the support of my course.
Adobe Photoshop is a bit trickier and I definitely need more practice, but I’m learning how to create GIFs and manipulate images as part of a social media marketing campaign for one of the UCLan Publishing books.
If you are new to publishing and worried about developing the skills central to the industry, rest assured that at UCLan you are in excellent hands. The patience, support and opportunities that I have experienced so far have made the MA so interesting and fun and I can’t wait to see what else I’ll be able to do this time next year!