We speak to Frances about working in academic publishing, medical memoirs, and her reading recommendations.
Hello, I'm Frances, Senior Marketing Manager at Eurospan, where we do international marketing, sales and distribution for academic and professional publishers. I look after the marketing for our medical and allied health publishers' lists, and you can usually find me getting (over)excited about new books on blood, guts and therapy.
How did you get into the publishing industry?
I worked as a bookseller at Waterstones both before and after going to university (classic English Literature degree) and loved being around books and readers all day. Looking for work experience opportunities, I found a small education publisher (Brilliant Publications) based down the road from my parents, so I emailed them to introduce myself as local and please please could I get some experience with them for a week or two. They said yes, and in return kindly put an ad for me in the IPG's newsletter that goes round to its member indie publishers, including Eurospan, who just happened to be looking for a new assistant.... Fast forward nearly ten years (I don't know how either) and I'm still there, having worked across from the Asia sales team into medical marketing.
Has your attitude to reading changed since working in publishing?
I've always loved reading and that hasn't changed at all. I don’t have nursing textbooks on my bedside TBR pile, but working in academic publishing shows you such a range of books being published across so many different subjects that you end up with a broad appreciation for non-fiction. I find the recent trend in medical professional memoirs really interesting and necessary, and I think this is set to stay for the next few years as we analyse what the pandemic has meant for anyone working in health and social care and how we deal with the consequences of this.
What's something you wish more people knew about the world of academic publishing?
It's really interesting! You're constantly learning new things not just about the industry, but about the whole world around us, and you don't need specialist knowledge to do the majority of jobs. I don't have any formal medical background whatsoever.
Where do you buy or access your books?
Any bookshop I find! Having lived in Colchester for part of last year, the fantastic Red Lion Books is the latest gem I've discovered. I do also buy some books on kindle, especially for the science fiction and fantasy book clubs I attend.
What books have you been reading in lockdown? Do these books typify your usual reading taste, or have you found yourself reading other genres and authors?
I used to read on my commute so it took me a while to adjust to reading while not crammed in at a weird angle on a rush-hour train... I actually read less in the first half of 2020 because of this, which came as a surprise to my friends and family! At the moment, I’m mainly reading fiction of any kind, but also travel and natural history writing - I've spent the last few years living near either the Colne or Thames rivers in Essex and London, so books involving these places have featured too.
What is your most beautiful book?
My mum gave me a book last year that she found on my her mother’s shelves - Purest Pleasures: A Book of Garden Gossip. It was published in 1949 and is a delight, with beautiful end papers and black and white lino cuts. It makes me think about the (at least) three generations of green-fingered women in our family!
What are your ultimate book recommendations?
Jane Austen, because without her, nothing. Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy for its incredible writing, especially if you like a dose of weirdness or think sci-fi is only about aliens with guns in space. Anything by Shirley Jackson for the sharpness of her observation, all of Anne Tyler's books for having every single comma in the right place, and Charles Portis' True Grit for the best narratorial voice ever. And, finally, because medical is fascinating, Bill Bryson's The Body.
Where can readers find you online?
You can find me occasionally tweeting at @fpwinfield