Meeting Mr Murphy: Masterclasses with Noel Murphy, Yale University Press

It has been rightly said that one should never judge a book by its cover and a perfect example of this is The Seagull school of Publishing. The building has an old-world charm but as I stepped inside for the first time, I discovered a different world altogether, a world where I witnessed the perfect amalgamation of literature and art.

I enrolled for the Editing course with a very limited knowledge of publishing but as the course progressed it proved to be an eye-opener about the amount of hard work that goes into transforming a manuscript into a book on the shelf. I am really impressed with the way the faculty has designed this course—it is truly professional and covers every aspect of publishing. Everyone at Seagull is so passionate about what they do, which is also evident from the fabulous titles produced by them every year.

Masterclasses are an integral part of the course and give the students an opportunity to interact with a number of esteemed writers, editors, publishers and other exceptional professionals from the industry. One such masterclass was with Noel Murphy, Sales and Marketing Director, Yale University Press. Mr Murphy talked to us about marketing, production, rights, publicity and sales. About editors needing to pitch books to the sales and marketing department. About the difference a book’s cover can make to its sales. I learnt of many new terms and their functions, such as digital publishing, field sales team, inventory and so on. Talking about promotional activities and efforts, Mr Murphy mentioned that the three important things were catalogues, social networking and websites. He also talked about the various factors which determine the price of a book, including the advance paid to the author, the cost of production, the discounts given to the retailer, the costs of copy-editing, proofreading and design.

Appreciating the inquisitiveness of our batch, Noel was very patient with all our queries. And more than happy to share numerous anecdotes about his experiences in the publishing industry over these many years. His thrill at being able to work with new books every day was evident, and a great inspiration to me. I realized that time just flies when one is in the company of such a knowledgeable, experienced and generous person.

I truly admire all the wonderful people who took our masterclasses and have learnt a great deal from their experiences.

Jyoti Kataria

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