Prepress Projects

For those who don’t know, who are Prepress Projects?

We’re a small (24 employees) publishing services company based in Perth, Scotland. We’re not a publisher. Instead, we provide editorial and production services to a wide variety of clients in the UK and abroad.

We’ve worked for many organisations over the years, ranging from commercial academic publishers to charities. These days most of our clients are public sector organisations: our current clients include the National Institute for Health Research, several bodies of the United Nations, and the Publications Office of the European Union.

Our services include document styling and formatting, copy-editing, professional layout and design, proofreading, artwork redrawing, XML production and metadata management, project management, and publishing consultancy. We typically work on medical and scientific research articles, public policy documents, business reports and educational material. For some of our clients, we write speeches, web pages or news articles. We don’t work on literary fiction or poetry.

Our clients like us to have specialist topic knowledge in their fields, so that’s something we look for when recruiting. If you have a special interest or have come into publishing from another area of study, that may work in your favour. We have about equal numbers of humanities and science graduates on staff.

The focus of our conference this year is Forward Thinking, covering various topics from employment and workers’ rights to green production. What does Forward Thinking mean for you and your business in 2022?

Forward Thinking, for us, means building for the future, which is one of our core company values. For us one of the most important things we can do for the future of the company and our people is to invest in and develop our staff. We’ve been accredited Investors In People since 2005, and currently hold the Investors In People Silver award and the Investors In Young People Gold award. We’re Living Wage employers – even our interns get the Real Living Wage – and we have recently joined the Net Zero Scotland community as part of our commitment to sustainability.

We believe it’s important to build up skills through training and coaching so that our staff can improve and develop, and so we have a robust training programme involving both in-house and external training.

We’re considering moving towards employee ownership to secure the long-term future of the company.

Forward Thinking also means being aware of our clients’ developing needs and preparing ourselves to meet them. This can mean expanding into new areas of publishing and new technologies, and providing what clients need before they know they need it.

What exciting projects do you have coming up in 2022?

We’re seeing an increasing amount of interest in metadata and discoverability. We are Crossref sponsors, which means we can help clients register digital object identifiers (DOIs) for their publications with Crossref. A DOI provides a unique identifier and a permanent URL for accessing a publication, and along with the DOI Crossref stores bibliographic metadata (such as title, authors, and publisher) and links to related documents (for example, references, other versions of the same publication or correction notices). This increases discoverability and helps track readership – very important in scientific and academic publishing!

Accessibility and inclusivity are also becoming increasingly important. As so many of our clients are public sector organisations, we need to make sure their documents are accessible to as many people as possible. The UK government has accessibility requirements for websites and mobile apps, and some of our clients have asked us for help with meeting these requirements, for example with writing image descriptions, simplifying tables or creating PDFs tagged for screen readers. We have also written easy-read versions of reports, making them more accessible to people with learning disabilities or reading difficulties and to non-native English speakers. This is an area of work we expect to grow over the next few years, as more and more of our clients begin to provide accessible materials.

Scotland has been on the international stage recently, with events such as COP26 in Glasgow. How do you see Publishing in Scotland growing as an industry? Or how do you think companies in the publishing industry can benefit from having a Scottish base?

Publishing in Scotland has changed enormously over the past couple of decades. The giant conglomerate publishers have largely closed their Scottish bases, and a number of smaller, more local publishers have sadly ceased to exist. But this has opened the way for a new generation of publishers to grow. Publishers in this new generation tend to be small and focused, concentrating on their own individual topic or niche. There’s quite a community here among these new publishers, and it is well supported by Publishing Scotland.

The Scottish Government provides support for small businesses and for the arts, which publishers in Scotland can take advantage of. For example, we were able to put some of our employees through apprenticeships in management thanks to funding from the Scottish Government Creative Industries programme. The publishing courses offered by universities such as Napier and Stirling help to build up a pool of knowledgeable potential employees for Scottish publishers, and we have recruited graduates from both of them.

In terms of the international stage, historically the UK publishing industry has centred around London and Oxford, but advances in communications technology have really helped us move away from the idea that publishers have to be based somewhere with good physical connections. At Prepress Projects, we have clients all over the world, including in Europe, Africa and the Far East.

Do you have any top tips for someone looking to work in the publishing industry?

The publishing industry encompasses a wide range of different types of company and role. There’s a lot of competition, so make sure you know exactly what’s involved in the role you’re applying for and tailor your application to it. It’s worth doing proper research on the company you’re applying to as well.

Give the best impression you can by ensuring that your CV is well laid out and contains all the information an employer needs.

Proofread and triple-check your application documents. Ensure there are no spelling mistakes or other obvious errors. Remember, your documents are likely to be read by someone who will judge you on your ability to write a grammatically correct application, as well as an engaging one.

We offer a paid internship programme which has always had strong uptake, and some highly valued members of staff started out as interns with us – some are now project leaders. Applications for this year’s internship close at noon on Monday 28 March. If you like the idea of working with us, and Perth is a suitable location for you, do send in your application!

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