Digital publishing news and views from the Firsty Group

Commentary Suzanne Collier

Published by FirstyNews

Suzanne Collier highlights 5 digital skills that are often overlooked by publishers.

Every day I meet publishers who overlook so many basic skills in publishing. Whatever role you are in, here are 5 digital skills that you cannot afford to overlook.

  1. Metadata. Why are so many publishers so lousy at writing good metadata? Is it because the task very often goes to the most junior person in the room? Review all your metadata, even the bits you believe you’ve got right. No matter how good you think your Metadata is, it can always be better, and thanks to Onix feeds, you only have to get it right once, and the job is done. Likewise, if you get it wrong, the errors may take years to rectify. Metadata is far too valuable a commodity to be trusted to someone on their first day or to an intern who is only with you to learn. Give the responsibility to someone who knows how to write brilliant metadata and can spell.
  2. Thema. The internet is global and your book category codes should be too. You’re probably using BIC and BISAC codes, but if you want to adopt the highest standards of categorisation and ensure your discoverability is top-notch, then use Thema as well.
  3. CSS. It’s been around for 20 years and it underpins so much of how text and templates display on the web, in books and electronic documents. Whatever your job function, you need to know your way around CSS, so you can easily adapt layouts, fonts or headings when you need to.
  4. Adobe Creative Suite, in particular Indesign and Photoshop. Too many people are still at a basic level and delegate more complex tasks to others. These programmes are standard across the whole industry, in the same way Microsoft Office is, and they are here to stay.
  5. Proofreading. It’s a core publishing skill and it is so needed in digital publishing and on websites. Standards have been allowed to slip in that some publishers don’t proofread digital output with the same dedication as they do print. There are errors everywhere, from the basics of people not knowing the difference between ‘there, their, and they’re’ – none of which will be picked up by spell check, or the misuse of words such as wondering and wandering. As Publishers we are the purveyors of the English language. Ensure that that everything you produce, from a book to your website, and everything in between, represents the publishing professional you are.

Suzanne Collier from solves career problems for publishers. She covers everything from career guidance through to workplace issues and drives change for people at all levels – senior publishers wishing to realign their career or do their current job better to those just starting out.
Twitter: @suzannecollier @bookcareers

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