Head of Discipline
Ms Colleen Dawson
Administrator: Mrs Merle Govind
Tel no: (011) 717-4140
Fax no: (011) 717-4149
About the BA Honours in Publishing Studies:
Publishing Studies is offered as a postgraduate program in the School of Literature and Language Studies. The aim of this professionally oriented course is to prepare graduate students for a career in book publishing. The 6 modules of the course are: the Publishing environment, Copy-editing & proofreading, Sales and marketing, Commissioning & finance of new book lists, Production & design (assessed with Commissioning), Publishing management & Finance.
At the end of the course the candidate will:
The changes happening throughout the publishing and media industries with increasing electronic and digital means of information dissemination are discussed thoroughly, with relation to copyright, marketing, production and management issues.
BA Honours in Publishing Studies is suitable for graduates of almost any discipline. Acceptance to the course is the normal requirements for any Honours course at Wits, plus an entrance test which confirms the students English language and basic numeracy skills.
Assessment in all modules of the course is through research assignments. There are no exams. Each module except Production & Design contributes 20% to the overall grade for the course. Production & Design is assessed with the Commissioning & Finance module.
Students are required to have a basic working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel for doing assignments, and have continuous regular access to internet and email. Courses in these programmes are available through CNS.
Students may choose a 1 year full time or 2 year part time option. Lectures normally take place from 4-6 pm on weekday afternoons.
Lecturer: Colleen Dawson, Publishing consultant and science textbook writer
This module covers the historical, social and cultural contexts of book publishing, to complement the more practical learning about the physical, financial, editing and marketing processes involved in publishing.
In this module we look at the main players and the main trends in publishing in South Africa and the world, explore key concepts like intellectual property, consider the role of the publisher, look at the educational and economic background to publishing in SA, and explore critical ethical, social and cultural issues related to publishing. The student learns where to look up information about the book trade, and how the trade is formally organised.
Ongoing changes in the electronic and digital environments, and the legal and publishing implications are discussed.
The role of booksellers and the relationship between publishers and booksellers is included to expand students understanding of the publishing environment. How to work in teams is covered as part of the students professions development.
Module 2: Proofreading and Copy-editing in English, AFRT4014
Lecturer: Isabelle Delvare, freelance managing and copy editor
At the conclusion of this course you will be able to:
At the conclusion of the course you will be able to:
Lecturer: Chris Reinders, The African Moon Press
Marketing is broadly used to describe the belief that the customer is of prime importance in business, and that success in publishing comes from anticipating the needs of the market. This is very much the principle assumed to underlie this course.
Marketing refers to a range of techniques including not just selling and advertising but also market research, product development, pricing, promotion, merchandising, direct mail, public relations, etc. Selling is and remains a very important part of marketing. In publishing terms, selling tends to refer to the actual work done by sales representatives who call on customers in person or call them by phone. In publishing, ?marketing? is often the term used to refer to all sales-related activities not handled specifically by sales representatives.
The course has three themes: Marketing Concepts, Marketing Books in South Africa, and Effective Copywriting.
Marketing is an important subject not only for students who are thinking of following a sales career, but to everyone in publishing.
Lecturers: Bridget Impey & Maggie Davey, Jacana Media
This module will be run as 2 interacting strands: commissioning & finance for commissioning. A commissioning editor pulls together all the strands of publishing, particularly an understanding of the publishing environment and how marketing takes place within that environment, to form the backdrop for the most important decision a publisher faces: What books to publish. The commissioning editor (sometimes called a publisher) plans ideas for books, and turns ideas into marketable reality. They commission authors to help turn the ideas into reality. Commissioning therefore refers to development of new titles by a deliberate process, as opposed to simply assessing unsolicited manuscripts coming in from authors. Most books are commissioned works, and commissioning is the central and probably the most important activity taking place in a publishing house.
A publisher must be able to cost and price a book correctly. To do this, he or she must be able to do feasibility studies, cost and price estimates, ratio analysis, etc. and be able to create ?What if?" scenarios.
Knowledge of Excel is a prerequisite for this course.
Design refers to the planning or drawing, whether on paper or on a computer, of a product before it is manufactured. Book design specifically refers to the general packaging or format of the book, typography and layout. The purpose of design is to make the book attractive to readers and easy to use.
Production in general refers to the making or manufacturing of goods for sale. In a publishing environment production refers to the manufacturing of books, and includes typesetting, proofing, colour repro, paper, print and bind. It deals with not only with manufacturing processes but also obtaining and comparing quotations, scheduling a book production programme, etc.
Design and production are treated here as one unit, although they are sometimes handled by separate people in a company. In many cases a company will have specialised departments dealing with design and production. The purpose of this course is to give the candidate enough of a basic grounding in the subject to enable him or her to:
This module is assessed in combination with the Commissioning & Finance module.
Lecturer: Colleen Dawson
Management refers to the running or directing of a business. Publishing houses require the same management techniques and skills as any other company. This course makes no effort to cover management as a subject in detail. It only concentrates on those aspects that a new entrant into the publishing industry needs to understand. There is inevitably considerable overlap between this section and others such as commissioning and sales and marketing. In many ways management is merely all these aspects writ large: where an individual commissioning editor needs to look at the cost implications of one title at a time, a manager needs to look at the implications of the whole list. And so on.
A publisher needs to have a firm grasp of the basics of management accounting, and must be able to understand and interpret balance sheets and income statements. He or she must understand the imperatives of profit and cash flow, and understand that as publisher his or her performance will primarily be measured against certain accounting standards. Flowing from profitability calculations on individual titles, the publisher must also be able to do budgets on entire publishing programmes, medium and long-term forecasts and learn to measure actual performance against forecast.
The course covers the following topics: