Do you have a flair for graphics and design? Do you have a gift for the printed word? Are you interested in a career path that requires strengths in both right brain and left brain functions?
Meet Brandy Mui, media professional, with over 15 years’ experience as a project manager and production editor in the publishing field. Mui specializes in handling science, technology, engineering, and medical (STEM) materials and preparing them for print or digital publications. She works to bridge the gap between research and public knowledge by taking raw materials and transforming them into textbooks, CDs, workbooks, and eBooks.
“At university, I remember I was quite impressed with my biology 101 textbook. The content was clearly written and easy to follow, the callouts, asides, and graphical elements were intelligently laid out to illustrate the content,” said Mui. “That was my eureka moment! Wow, someone was really paying attention to present the information in an easily digestible manner. That was someone’s job! And without any particular plan in mind, I sort of fell into that area when I began my career in publishing.”
As the production editor, Mui is primarily responsible for the backend of the production process. Her tasks include managing budgets, scheduling, trafficking, page layout and design, copyediting, and proofreading. STEM publications require special consideration as a figure-heavy manuscript can be more challenging to edit later in the process. Day-to-day, the job remains dynamic as new technologies and industry changes allow for constant growth and learning. Since starting her publishing career, Mui has increased her skillset by working with XML, HTML, and CSS languages.
Flexibility, multitasking, and a can-do attitude also seem to be a necessity for this line of work. According to Mui, “I tend to be pragmatic, I enjoy learning theory at leisure, but most of the time, I need to access the nuts and bolts as quickly as I can. I tell people my publishing reality has never been anywhere near as glamorous as The Devil Wears Prada. And in this line of work, timing is everything.” Mui’s project manager responsibilities require that she stays on top of all developments and ensure that tasks are completed before deadlines. “My productivity has always been important to me. Publication dates influence marketing campaigns, spring/fall catalogs, booths at meetings and conferences . . .and in the case of books that may be picked up for course adoption, availability at the start of a new semester is important. The course instructor would also need time to review a new publication/textbook to evaluate its suitability to include on the syllabus,” says Mui.
Mui expresses sympathy and an appreciative understanding for academicians who are anxious about the end phase of their research projects. “These projects are their life’s work and the publishing professional has to play midwife through the publishing process. These projects are in essence their babies . . These ‘kids’ have the potential to further human learning and educate other scientists.”
Mui’s advises anyone interested in this field to develop some basic skills in business writing, marketing, and editorial skills, including copyediting and proofreading. “There are many excellent colleges with visual and graphic arts curriculum, if that is your area of interest. Medical illustrators have their own association, if that is your passion. And there are many brick and mortar schools as well as virtual learning environments, if coding is your thing,” claims Mui. “I am proud of my own small contribution in furthering knowledge and scientific education. You have to determine your level of commitment to work that may be erratic and your dedication to your passion to become a part of the scientific communication community.”
Check out the infographic below that Mui made about her work:
Robbin Koenig, M.A., M.S. is an educator with an avid interest in technology and science education. She has taught students in prekindergarten through high school. Robbin enjoys volunteer work, exploring the N.Y.C. cultural arts scene, and anything pertaining to wildlife.