Publisher, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Like many business owners across the world, my story is unremarkable. I run a publishing company, the one publishing this book. It’s just me and my current intern, Sam, in the office, although not in the same office. I’ve worked from home for years, but for Sam the transition to working remotely is a new experience. Over the past three weeks we’ve been steadily developing systems and means of communication that are facilitating working together. A month ago it would have been a different story, and I’d have had to let him go – we would have struggled to be productive. With Zoom, Facebook Messenger, and Google Docs we are able to communicate and collaborate.
This book is quick and dirty publishing. Shortcuts taken and compromises on our normal quality threshold in the interest of speed. No, the articles haven’t had the care and attention we’d have liked, but they have been looked at by at least two people, even if that’s been at speed. No, we haven’t had revision rounds with the authors – they submitted their article and left us to clean it up as we saw fit. Definitely not the way we work normally, as our existing authors might wearily attest to when they receive yet another round of queries to answer.
The normal ‘rules’ of publishing have been set aside in extraordinary times. I wouldn’t want this to become the new normal that is being spoken of so much. It’s not the case that everything we are having to do differently is better and should become part of our process when we come out the other side.
But some things will stick.
The collaboration between editorial professionals who have answered the call. I don’t like asking people to do things for free, but they stepped up and helped at a time when I honestly couldn’t cope alone.
Business is going to be difficult. The business is owed money that we might not see and we still have bills to pay for software we aren’t using. Last week (was it really only last week?) I had to make the decision to suspend publications for ten weeks, and now I think it might be considerably longer. And I had to tell authors that their books wouldn’t come out, and I couldn’t tell them when they would be released. On Monday morning I told them I wouldn’t be able to work on books much because of commitments at home. That same afternoon, this project to publish a book at lightning speed was up and running, and I had to let them know that this was my way of helping in a crisis.
Will my business survive? I don’t appear to be eligible for grants, and things are tight. One thing I can say, even if publishing this book is the last breath of Wordcatcher Publishing, at least I’m going to go out with a bang. I’ll get a job delivering food or medicine, or whatever it takes to get through the crisis and, when the dust settles (if it ever settles), I’ll pick myself up and find something more permanent. I’ve worked in a variety of business sectors: retail, business-to-business sales, sports coaching and development, web design, education, travel, photography, and probably some I’ve forgotten to mention. But that’s been a reality for many people for decades: we need to be agile, and if that means reinventing ourselves and rising to a new challenge, in an unfamiliar sector, then so be it.
We will all have personal choices to make when we return to work. And we will return to work. I think many people will be able to return to the jobs they lost, and there will be a recovery. Not easy, not simple, but it will come. But I think the difference for many people this time around will be an opportunity to make changes and perhaps choose not to go back to what they did before. Perhaps from necessity – if our old job doesn’t exist, or we didn’t like the way we were treated. Perhaps from choice – a conscious decision to forge a new path with new skills and resilience born from our current experience.
For further information
Surviving the Coronavirus Lockdown and Social Isolation is a guide to creating a new normal in a changing world. Download a copy of the ebook for free now.
Get your free copy of the book here.