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Handle with care

A crate of packages and boxes wrapped on the back of a lorry.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I attended a webinar given by ELT Publishing Professionals yesterday, and I feel I have to write about it.

The topic was about packagers (or vendors or suppliers, but I’m sticking with packagers) in the ELT industry. I was really pleased that ELT PP had organised this topic, because I work with packagers nearly all the time, so they are a big part of my daily life.

What has shocked me is the overwhelmingly negative attitude towards packagers with some implying that working for a publisher in-house is preferable. That’s all well and good, if you can get in. What also shocked me is that people, sorry, professionals, have been criticising and naming packagers that they’ve had issues with – not only during the webinar, but also on social media in discussions afterwards. This is a perfect example of how not to network. Now, I can understand why people are naming names – potentially to ‘warn’ others. But why does this need to be done in a public forum? It is likely that other packagers (and indeed publishers) may see your comments and decide from the get-go that you’re not worth contacting for a possible job.

It was disheartening to see at the end of the webinar the words that people chose to write about how they felt about packagers – one I saw was ‘scrap heap’. Now, if this wasn’t an anonymous activity, would that person still have written that? Not only was it disrespectful to packagers, but it’s also disrespectful to those of us who have had good experiences with packagers – admittedly, not all my dealings have been positive, but that’s how life works. I’ve heard nightmare stories about working in-house too, so it goes both ways. I also find it’s disrespectful to our industry as a whole. Our industry of writing, editing and creating material for the ELT world is built around publishers, employees, packagers, freelancers and everyone else who doesn’t fit into those categories. If working for packagers doesn’t work for you, for any reason, that’s absolutely fine – don’t work for them.

When I first started out in ELT writing and editing, I did try and get a role at a publisher. I had numerous interviews, but it all came down to one thing – lack of experience with what I was applying to do. Packagers have allowed me to build my experience by allowing me to work on different projects. If it weren’t for packagers, I would be nowhere now. Working for a publisher in-house seemed like the golden ticket to a good career, but it just never happened for me. Since then, I’ve been able to do some work for big publishers and companies (not through packagers) as a result of my work and confidence building with packagers.

Before anyone asks, yes I have said ‘no’ to work I thought was too low of a fee and yes, I do know (or I’m getting better at knowing) my worth as a writer, editor and consultant. Yes, I feel valued working with packagers because not only do they value me and my input, they value me as a professional. This is not meant as an antagonistic post – just as those comments on social media are valid, so is my reaction to the webinar.

Packagers and publishers reading this, do feel free to contact me if you’d like a professional ELT freelancer editor, writer and DEI consultant – just click on contact in the menu.

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