A Career in Publishing…?

This year marks 35 years since we published our first book. Naturally, this has got us all feeling a bit reflective, and in this post we wanted to share how each of us ended up working at CVP/MM, from Tommi’s story that arguably began at the age of 6(!), to Alice who joined us at the beginning of this year.


Celebrating Tommi becoming Managing Director

We’ve told the reasons behind the founding of Multilingual Matters several times before, so I won’t go into those details. I have always done some work for the company, whether it was helping to stick labels onto envelopes aged 6, or processing subscription renewals and sales after school aged 15 to earn a bit of pocket money, so the family business was very familiar to me and I was always interested in how the business of publishing books actually worked. On finishing my literature degree at Essex University, I knew I wanted to work in the book trade. I also knew that I didn’t want to work for the family business as that might feel too much like pressure. My parents were also adamant that they did not want to employ their children, for much the same reasons, they did not want us to feel like we were being pressured into the business. As I was living in Colchester at the time, I would often meet Dad at the Independent Publishers Guild monthly seminars in London. It was a nice chance for us to catch up, and for me to learn a bit more about independent publishing. After one of these monthly meetings Dad and I went for a drink in the pub close to the meeting rooms. It was clear that they were looking to recruit someone, and I was still looking for work myself. We avoided the subject for the first few drinks, and after the third drink one of us floated the idea of me coming to work for the family business…we were both a little sceptical as to whether we could actually work together without constant argument or worse, but agreed to give it a go for 6 months and then have a family meeting to decide whether or not it was a good idea…we never got around to having that meeting!


Sarah (second from right) in an early staff photo taken in Clevedon

Why it’s Useful to Know More than One Sarah Williams

I am actually a Multilingual Matters’ reject! On a snowy spring day in 2001 I arrived for what turned out to be my first interview with Marjukka, Ken and Mike. I felt I had made a good impression but was concerned that my lack of a coat (it was April and I had a suit jacket?? 😃) and bus timetable may have counted against me! I was disappointed to learn that I’d narrowly missed out on the job. This left me to carry on at my government office job. I also moved house and changed telephone number shortly afterwards.
In the summer of 2002 MM/CVP had another opening but no way of getting in contact with me. Around this time I bumped into the other Sarah Williams from the government office in the supermarket (she lived on the same road, had the same middle name and her sister was also called Catherine). She told me that some place ‘possibly beginning with M’ were trying to get hold of me about a job. I called the MM office, spoke to Marjukka and the rest is history! 😃


Anna (far right) on her first day in the office

I have always loved books, so a career in publishing should have been an obvious choice. However, in idiotic early-20s fashion I thought it was a bit of a cliché for someone with an English degree and so I loftily avoided all the publishers at the university careers fair (I have no idea what else I imagined I might do!) I met my partner at University and as he was staying on do a PhD, my main concern was to find a job that allowed me to stay in Bristol. Being utterly unqualified for and uninterested in the main Bristol industries of finance and engineering, I applied for every job in the local paper that I thought might have me, including training as a librarian at UWE and setting the crosswords for the Bristol Evening Post. One of those jobs, and in fact the only one to even ask me for interview, was journal editorial assistant at Multilingual Matters. I made my way out to Clevedon on the bus, and the rest, as they say, is history.


Laura’s first office photo shoot

Coming from a very rural area, options for graduate level work experience were severely limited, and I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I left university. One day, I was sitting in the university library completing the references section on an essay, when the place Clevedon caught my eye. I had a feeling that Clevedon might be near Bristol, just about a commutable distance from my home. I looked up the company Multilingual Matters and promptly wrote to Tommi, asking if there were any work experience possibilities. I was immediately (and politely!) turned down flat – the company was too small and they didn’t need any extra help. A couple of months later, out of the blue came another email saying that they’d reconsidered and might be willing to have an intern. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and spent 2 months over the summer doing the work experience, as well as commuting 4 hours each day to get there and working evenings and weekends in a pub! I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the office, learnt a great deal and headed back to university with an interest in publishing and new skills, but also the knowledge that my placement wouldn’t lead to employment as the company was too small. The following February, as I was back in the library, another email from Tommi popped up. This one had the title “An Enquiry” which I thought sounded quite ominous and deduced that they were trying to sort out some mistake I’d made back in the summer! Luckily for me it contained a job offer, which I didn’t need to think long about accepting. I went down to the lobby to call my mum and stood next to the machine where users return books. On top of the stack of returned books was one of ours, Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, which I’ve always thought as a very strange but good sign!


Flo’s first London Book Fair

I had just graduated with a degree in French and Russian and not quite knowing what to do with myself, I decided to move to France. I found a job teaching English to adults, got a CELTA qualification and lived there for two years. But I missed Bristol and eventually started to think about coming home and what I could do once I got there. Although I had enjoyed it, teaching wasn’t quite the right fit for me, so I began to think of other options – casting around for ideas, publishing was something I kept coming back to. Once back in Bristol, I did some work experience with a literary agent, but I was doubtful that there would be many opportunities in publishing for me in my hometown, having heard that ‘all publishing was in London’. Then one day my mum, an avid Googler, came across Channel View’s website. I sent Tommi a speculative email, not knowing that there did actually happen to be a (rare!) vacancy for an internship at exactly that time. To my surprise and delight, I was invited to come in for an interview and a couple of days later I was in the supermarket when I got an email offering me the internship. That was over three years ago now – time has flown!


Alice’s first week in the office

I graduated from the University of Bristol just over two years ago, with a degree in History. Following my graduation I decided that I couldn’t leave lovely Bristol so stuck around and considered what I’d like to do job-wise. I had publishing in mind but couldn’t find anything that suited, so for the first year I tried a few different odd jobs – working in a pet shop, as well as for The Green Register (a not-for-profit organisation who promote sustainable building) and volunteering for a number of charities, before finally moving to London to give marketing a try. After a 3 month internship I headed off to India and then came back to Bristol with a fresh head. This time I was lucky – in my search for academic publishing roles I came across Multilingual Matters… I applied and got the position! I was particularly drawn to the small size of the company and the topics of publication, as I’d just begun a TEFL course. First impressions told me I’d come to the right place, with lots of quirky questions, tea, biscuits and entertaining playlists.

CVP/MM Summer Holiday Roundup

The nights are drawing in and autumn has officially arrived, but before we say goodbye to summer altogether, here’s a look back at what the CVP/MM team each got up to on their summer holidays…


I spent a month in Finland and spent most of that time offline, especially wonderful in places like this where I could be on my own and not even see other hikers, and enjoy the quiet and the mysterious sounds of nature…



This photo was taken late in the evening in Spain, when it was still over 30 degrees. By day we found it too hot to do anything but swim and read – a perfect way to spend a week and I came back feeling completely relaxed!



I return to my hometown of Dawlish every year for carnival week and during a walk this year I found the perfect road name nearby! Sadly I think houses on this road might be out of my price range!



This summer I’ve been making the most of the ‘glorious’ British weather by heading out on a number of camping trips. My favourite one involved borrowing a campervan and driving down to Megavissey in Cornwall, where I swam in the sea and ate lots of pasties!



Here’s a photo of me bodyboarding with my elder daughter Alys in the (very cold) sea in Pembrokeshire.









I went to Lisbon for my holiday this year, where I spent most of my time exploring the narrow streets of the historic quarter and eating Portuguese custard tarts. Here’s a picture of me taken just before sunset at the Castelo de São Jorge, which sits on top of a hill and offers one of the best views of the city.

Behind the Scenes… Marketing Your Book

Every month Laura and I sit down together to have a marketing meeting where we discuss books that are currently in production, are about to be published or have just been published. This is a chance for us to outline a bespoke marketing plan for each book and check up on its progress at key points throughout the publication process.

Shortly after a book goes into production, we have an initial meeting about it, in which we take a look at the documents filled out by the author and the commissioning editor (this is when the Author Questionnaire comes into its own!) and devise a personalised marketing plan for it. The commissioning editor will have pointed out the book’s unique features and flagged up anything else that might help us to market the book (does its publication coincide with a relevant day, e.g. World Heritage Day or is there a particular news story that ties in with the book’s content?)

The AQ is another source of valuable information to us at this point, as it contains details of relevant conferences, journals, blogs, newspapers, magazines and organisations that we can contact to spread news of the book’s publication. If you have any specific contacts, like a journalist for example, make sure you include this on your AQ, as it can be a challenge to successfully make contact with newspapers or magazines without one. In the past, the books which have had the most exposure have been the ones whose authors have given us plenty of ideas for publicising the book and have put us in touch with relevant people who will help to spread the word. When it comes to the media, local contacts should not be underestimated. It’s often local papers and magazines that will be most receptive to being contacted and – particularly if your book is of local interest – more likely to want to feature a piece about it. If you’re able to establish contact prior to the publication of your book, it will be easier for us to go back and notify them once the book comes out.

Our two Twitter pages on which we post tweets about books

At the end of the initial meeting, we outline a plan for the book and assign tasks to each of us. I deal with all the social media promotion (including arranging blog posts, publicising the book on Twitter and Facebook, posting any accompanying videos on our YouTube channel etc.), as well as contacting any media and organisations we think might be interested. This could be anything from print newspapers and magazines to blogs and online publications, as well as specific organisations with mailing lists who may be able to share publication news with their members. Meanwhile Laura takes care of areas such as conferences, book prizes and production of marketing materials like flyers.

Shortly before publication, we meet to discuss our progress. This interim meeting is more of a check-up meeting than an action one as we make sure that we have everything prepared ready to launch on publication. The timing of marketing can be key so it is important that we are all set in time for the book’s release. We might do things such as make sure that we have asked the author to write a piece for our blog, written a press release ready to send out on publication or made a list of suitable journals to offer the book to for review.

Finally, once a book is published we meet to discuss what we have done, what was successful and what was less so. We record all our efforts and eventually present an individual marketing report for each book to the rest of the team. This is done six months after publication when we also look at the early sales of the title. We are always interested to see if there is any correlation between ours and the author’s marketing efforts and the early reception a book gets.

If you have any ideas for marketing your book that aren’t here, make sure you get in touch as we’ll always do our best to make them happen!


Celebrating 1000 books in 35 years of Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters

With the recent publication of the 6th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, we hit a real milestone and published our 1000th book since the company began. In this post, Tommi reflects on the last 35 years leading up to this point and discusses how the company and wider world of publishing has changed over time. 

Tommi and David Singleton at the MM drinks reception at AAAL

At the recent AAAL conference in Portland, OR, we celebrated the publication of our 1000th book, the 6th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, co-authored by Colin Baker and Wayne E. Wright. Since I remember the publication of our very first book in 1982, Bilingualism: Basic Principles by Hugo Baetens-Beardsmore, this led me to reflect a little on what has changed at Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters (CVP/MM), in the world of academic publishing, and attitudes to bilingualism since then.

Marjukka and Mike at Frankfurt Book Fair

Many of you will know that CVP/MM is a family business, founded originally by my parents in response to being told by our family doctor not to speak Finnish to my brother and me, stating that “they didn’t know what damage they were doing”. Fortunately, being a formidable combination of a stubborn Finnish mother and an entrepreneurial Essex-man father, they not only refused to take such unwelcome advice, they took it as an opportunity to find and publish world-class research focusing on the many positive benefits of bilingualism. Although we now publish in a very wide range of topics – including applied linguistics and sociolinguistics, educational research, language disorders and translation studies under our Multilingual Matters imprint and, under our other imprint Channel View Publications, tourism studies – language rights and positive attitudes to bi- and multilingualism remain at the heart of what we do. We believe that no mother or father should ever be told not to speak the language of their heart to their children without extremely well-informed reasons for doing so.

Although in many cases attitudes towards bilingualism may have switched towards the more positive and even aspirational, this is often only the case if the languages you speak are privileged western languages, and in many cases only if you are of the majority population. It is fine and admirable to learn Spanish or Arabic if you are white, but society might be less positive about you retaining your Spanish or Arabic if you are an immigrant. There is still much work to do in changing attitudes towards languages where these languages are associated with immigration or are minority indigenous languages.

Some of my first memories include sitting under our dining room table, “helping” my parents stick the mailing labels onto envelopes that would carry our first catalogues out into the world. Among the many addresses we sent catalogues to, 252 Bloor Street West stuck in my mind. As a 6 year old child I struggled to understand how so many people lived in this one house! In the years since then I have come to know the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) well, and have got to know the very many authors and friends who are based there. We no longer pack and mail our catalogues ourselves, this is one of those tasks that computers and automation have simplified, but as the editor of my local orienteering club newsletter I have to pack and mail all the copies to our members, so I like to think that I have retained those valuable skills!

The office in Clevedon before everything was done on computers

In 1982 we were already using computers for journal subscription processing, but all correspondence with authors and editors was by mail. We used to do so much mailing back and forth that the local post office gave us our own postcode! All of our records were kept in large filing cabinets and a system of racks, T-cards and folders would track the process of book and journal manuscripts from initial proposal to published book. Sales reports from our distributor would be couriered once a month to us in a large box, and even as recently as the late 1990s we would wait with excitement to go through the monthly sales reports and see how well our books had been selling. These days everything we do is reliant on computers, the internet and data. We only have to log in to our distributors’ reporting sites to get the sales figures from the day before, and we can communicate easily even while travelling. This availability of data and immediacy of communication brings with it a new set of demands and challenges. There is a sense that we must respond to everything as quickly as possible and that we absolutely have to know how many books were sold in the last 24 hours. A lot of time is taken up by responding to queries that in the past would have waited for a single letter, and of course we put the same pressures on to other people.

In the early days of our company the only reliable way to purchase books was via the bookshop, or to put a cheque in the post with an order form from our catalogue. These days the rise of companies like Amazon, Books etc. and the Book Depository, as well as our own website, means that wherever you are you should be able to order a print copy of our books and have it posted to you quickly. If you choose to purchase an ebook, you can place an order now and have the full text, even in some cases with embedded video files and links to relevant websites and resources, delivered direct to your computer, tablet or reading device within seconds.

Libraries are able to buy one multi-user license of a digital book, which does not degrade with age and usage, and are able to share this with multiple users of the library, even off-site users of the library, at the same time. Shelf space is making way for more computer spaces and learning environments, and university campuses are changing accordingly. Of course the downside of this is that the number of copies required to service the same population has fallen, and so in general across the publishing industry we have seen the total number of sales of any one academic title fall quite dramatically in the past 10 years or so. Since the majority of overhead and fixed costs of publication have not fallen, this means that book prices have risen much faster than inflation in order to cover those costs.

While it is interesting to look at what has changed, it is also very instructive to consider what has stayed constant over all this time. Digital technology and distribution has meant that the barriers to entry into the publishing industry have fallen dramatically. In a world where anyone can write, typeset and publish a book relatively quickly, easily and inexpensively, the role of the publisher in providing a measure of review, revision and quality control is just as important as it was in 1982. It is arguably even more important now, given the recent attention to fake news stories and alternative facts. CVP/MM has always believed in reviewing manuscripts thoroughly and as transparently as possible, and while peer-review is not a flawless system, it is a vitally important step in ensuring that the books we publish can be trusted by students, researchers, parents and policy-makers.

Flo, Sarah, Anna, Tommi, Elinor and Laura

We continue to grow as a business, this year we will publish 60 titles across all of the various subject areas, where just 10 years ago we would schedule 30 titles. But we remain a small and friendly operation with approachable staff. We have fostered an atmosphere where we can thrive and grow within our jobs, and so our staff turnover is extremely low. It is highly likely that you will deal with the same people through the life of your book project, if not your whole career! You will have seen me at every AAAL for the past 19 years, but you may not be aware that Sarah and Anna will this year celebrate their 15th anniversary of working for Multilingual Matters, and Elinor and Laura are not that far behind. Our most recent full time colleague, Flo, already feels like part of the family, and our intern, Alice, reflects the values that we all share.

Although my father, Mike, is no longer around to see the progress we have made since he and my mother, Marjukka, retired, he would still recognise everything that we do and be proud of how we have continued to build on what they started 1000 books ago. We would not have been able to publish 1000 books if it wasn’t for the many authors, series editors, reviewers and readers who have contributed in so many different ways. There are too many to name here, but I hope you know just how important you are to us. It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I hope that you will continue to partner with us, to work with us and to hold us to account when we do occasionally get things wrong, so that as we go on to publish books together we can all grow and improve, and look back on the next 1000 books with just as much pride!


Getting to know the Channel View team: Flo

Flo is the latest member of staff to join the Channel View Publications/Multilingual Matters team.  She joined us as an intern in September 2014 and she fitted in to our office so well that we asked her to become our full time Publishing Assistant from January 2015. In this post we get to know more about our newest member of the team…

Flo What was it that first attracted you to apply to work for CVP/MM, was it the books, the topics of our publications, or something else?!

After teaching English as a foreign language in France for nearly two years post-university, I was ready for a new challenge and decided to pursue a job in the publishing industry. I had assumed there wouldn’t be much in the way of publishing in Bristol, but a quick Google of ‘publishing internships, Bristol’ took me straight to the CVP/MM website. At the time, there weren’t any positions available, but the sorts of books you were publishing instantly piqued my interest: appealing to me as a language learner, EFL teacher and lover of travelling! When an opportunity to join the team came up just a few weeks later, I jumped at the chance and applied straight away.

Sounds like your interests fit with those of the rest of us very closely! I take it that you already speak French, do you speak any other languages, or are there any that you’d like to learn one day?

I studied Russian at university as well as French, and lived there for a semester in the third year of my degree. At that point I could speak Russian fairly well, having been plunged in at the deep end in a homestay with a Russian ‘babushka’ (grandmother) who didn’t speak a word of English. As you can imagine, my Russian improved pretty quickly…although I’m very rusty now! Other than rekindling my Russian, I’d like to learn Spanish one day – I hear it’s not too difficult if you already speak French and English.

Wow, living with a Russian babushka must have been quite an experience! As an office full of foodies, I’m sure we’d love to know if she cooked you any unusual meals or if you tried any exotic dishes during your stay in Russia?

Well, the typical breakfast in Russia is ‘kasha’ (каша), the Russian take on porridge, which is delicious. But the bane of my Saturday morning was the variation on this that my host called ‘molochniy sup’ (молочный суп), literally ‘milk soup’, consisting of a bowl of cooked spaghetti in warm milk – not quite the weekend treat it was meant to be! More importantly, as a result of my constant coughs and colds brought on by the -30 degree Russian winter, she introduced me to the medicinal properties of vodka. Consequently, it was an exciting day when I could reciprocate in the cultural exchange with my discovery of Heinz beans in the supermarket, which I brought home to my host. She put the unopened tin in a pan of boiling water to cook and we ate tepid beans that were pronounced ‘delicious’ for dinner!

Sounds like you had some interesting culinary experiences! If you could invite 6 well-known people to dinner (be it for baked beans or something more appetising!), who would you ask?

That’s such a tricky one… there are so many people I’d want to choose! I think I’ll go for: Louis Theroux for some good stories, Morgan Freeman or David Attenborough (I can’t choose!) ditto and also just to listen to them speak, even if it’s only ‘Please pass the potatoes’, Dawn French for her sense of humour and to create a fun, positive atmosphere, Eddie Izzard for some slightly eccentric and multilingual(!) comedy, Laura Marling for a lovely musical interlude between courses and Nigel Slater to ensure that the ‘dinner’ part of the dinner party is a success!

Quite a diverse selection, I’m sad this isn’t going to actually happen! Thank you for answering all our questions, Flo. To round off the interview, here are a few quick-fire questions:

Sweet or savoury? I’m a self-confessed chocoholic and always have room for pudding – so, sweet!

City stroll or country ramble? If I’m in the UK I’d probably opt for a walk in the countryside, but when I’m abroad I love exploring new cities.

Cats or dogs? Difficult to choose, but I grew up with a hilariously dim cat who I loved, so I’ll stick with cats.

Chat on the phone or handwritten letter? Much as I like a lengthy phone catch-up, there’s nothing quite like a handwritten letter – my friend’s been living in Australia for the past year and I’ve loved sending letters back and forth (even if the news in them is out of date by the time they get there!)

Neon or monochrome? The only neon things I own are highlighters, so I’d have to say monochrome.

Television programmes or films? Although I enjoy a good sitcom or drama (or episode of Bake Off), you can’t beat a great film.  One of my favourites is L’Auberge Espagnole, which inspired me to study abroad.

Behind the scenes at Channel View – how we deal with your daily enquiries

One of my responsibilities as Publishing Assistant at Channel View is to check and respond to all the many and various emails that come into our info box every day from people all over the world. It’s an important task, as the info box is often the first point of contact for our customers. As such, it’s the first thing on my to-do list when I arrive at my desk in the morning, and I monitor it regularly throughout the working day.

FloAll sorts of enquiries turn up in the info box, the most common being requests for inspection copies from academics looking for suitable texts for the courses they run. These arrive either directly from the individual or, more often, automatically via our website. I verify that the customer has provided the correct ISBN and check to see if their contact details are in our database (if not, I add them). I then pass on the request for action to our distributors – either Marston Book Services for the UK and the rest of the world, or the University of Toronto Press for North America. If the request is for an e-book inspection copy, I arrange for it to be sent to the customer myself on receipt of the email. This means customers often receive their e-inspection copy the same day!

We also frequently receive requests from University Disability Support Services all over the world for book formats that are accessible for visually or print impaired students. In these cases, the universities will be using our books as required texts for their students and it is the Disability Support Services’ job to obtain the e-file from us (something we are always happy to provide) for conversion into a suitable format for their students,.

Other common requests and queries include: booksellers asking for quotes; contacts wanting to be added to our mailing list or advising us of changes of address; prospective authors enquiring about the process for submitting book proposals; authors seeking to claim their author discount; questions about our website; order enquiries; and many more. I also forward some of the more specific requests (e.g. about permissions, conferences and review copies) to the appropriate person in the Channel View team – so, if you’re not sure who to send your message to, email us at info and I’ll make sure it reaches the right person!

These kinds of questions come up on a regular basis but sometimes we get more unusual enquiries.  Not long ago a message popped up from a publishing company in Denmark which was just starting to venture into books on bilingualism and had been hunting for one of our titles without success. Unfortunately the book in question was published in 1995 and had been out of print for quite some time! This sent me searching through our archive, where I eventually found what they were after. We only had the one archive copy of the book, so I couldn’t send it out but, as the company only needed a specific section of the book, I offered to scan the relevant pages and create a PDF for them, thereby reaching a successful conclusion to their search! We also recently received a request from BBC Scotland to be added to our mailing list and asking for our catalogue of new titles. Not a typical customer for us, but they were on the look-out for ‘new talent and idea collaborations’ and acknowledged that this can often be found in writers and the stories and subjects that interest them. Here’s hoping for a forthcoming documentary about Channel View!

If you have any queries, great or small, send us an email at info@channelviewpublications.com!