Interview with Susan Ferber, Executive Editor for American and World History at Oxford University Press

Interested in a career in publishing? From scholarly journals to e-books, publisher Susan Ferber explained, in a conversation from earlier this month, how her decades-long career as a publisher has allowed her to thrive in many capacities. Ferber’s work in publishing runs the gamut from selling content to libraries and institutional databases to analyzing data to determine books that will sell the most copies, to teaching university level courses on publishing. In the two-part recorded interview below, she explained to me how far-reaching and rewarding her career in publishing has been, and the wide variety of authors’ work she has had the opportunity to read.

Susan Ferber is an executive editor for American and world history at Oxford University Press in New York, where she has worked since 1997. Her list ranges from ancient history to contemporary history and includes both academic and trade titles. She has edited many first books, as well as the work of senior scholars. Books she has edited have won numerous prizes, including the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prizes, Bancroft Prizes, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and five have been national bestsellers. She enjoys working with scholars, helping them to attain tenure and to make their ideas accessible to wider audiences.  In addition to speaking regularly about publishing at universities and scholarly conferences, she shared some of her thoughts on editing scholarly work in What Editors Do (University of Chicago Press, 2018).  She has taught aspiring publishers at the Columbia Publishing course since 2005.

Update to a statement made in interview: E-books had plateaued, and then they grew during the pandemic.

For further reading on careers in publishing:

Publishers Lunch Job Board:

Publishers Lunch (free industry daily email and industry news):

Association of University Presses:  (info on the industry and job postings)

UK Publisher’s Association:

By Eli Heller (He/Him)
Eli Heller (He/Him) Career Coach Eli Heller (He/Him)