I Want To Work In … Publishing
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I see lots of students who wish to work in publishing. When asked what they want to do in publishing, invariably the answer comes back, "editorial" despite this being a small proportion of the available jobs. When I ask them which type of editorial, the reply is always "literature", despite this being an even smaller segment of the market!
Very few students seem to wish to work in (or in many cases have even heard of) marketing, production, rights, publicity, sales, etc. If having looked at all the other varied roles available in publishing, you stilll feel that you are most suited to editorial work, then you should definitely go for it, but you will have a much easier entry path if you consider the other available options as well.
|PROFILE: Commissioning editor
Involves: selecting, reviewing & arranging material for publication. Managing the various stages of book & production. Brief the design department, and work closely with marketing and publicity. Finding new authors and maintaining good relationships with existing authors, negotiating with agents, attending book fairs, contract negotiation, overseeing the writing process & development of projects, commissioning illustrations and photographs, selling ideas, budgeting & financial forecasting.
Employers: Publishers of books, magazines, trade periodicals, large companies producing in-house magazines, professional bodies publishing their own journals.
Related jobs: trade publishing, journalism, PR.
Satisfactions: Seeing a gap in the market & developing a successful product to fill that gap (i.e. producing books that are popular & sell well). Working with a group of dynamic like-minded people. Working with products you can believe in & see the need for.
Negatives: "Low salary - publishing is notoriously badly paid. Long hours."
Skills: communication, organising, negotiating, cooperating, business interest & aptitude, attention to detail, determination, enthusiasm, good command of, & feeling for, the English language and good computing skills.
Advancement: Usually start as an editorial or publishing assistant. Can then become junior editor, editor, senior editor & on to editorial director or can move into other departments - particularly marketing.
Degree: Any degree subject acceptable. There are a number of postgraduate publishing courses which may increase your chances.
Vacancy Sources: The Bookseller (weekly), The Guardian (Monday). You will normally need to make many speculative applications.
Copy EditingOften this is the stepping stone to becoming a commissioning editor (see above)
- Proofreading: correcting manuscripts: checking for flow, sense, clarity, consistency, grammar and correct facts and possibly libelous information (see below for more on this)
- Preparing copy for typesetting
- Checking proofs from printers
- Liaising with other departments (production, marketing, sales) & companies (paper mills, printers, distributors etc) to ensure time & cost schedules are met.
- Editorial assistants liaise with authors, agents, and the design, production, marketing and publicity departments.
Copy editors often start out as secretaries or editorial assistants.
Many proofreading posts are occupied by freelancers working from home; companies such as Penguin employ large numbers of these. As well as being expert on grammar, you also have to check for continuity and consistency. Get experience on the student paper or any other publication. This will help set you apart from the many hopeful start-up freelancers who bombard publishers with CVs. There are many courses available many of which will not carry much value in the job market, but the exceptions to this are the respected training bodies Society for Editors and Proofreaders www.sfep.org.uk and the Publishing Training Centre www.train4publishing.co.uk
ZigZag Education have produced a Proofreading Training Pack which is very good value
Good advice on proofreading as a career http://libroediting.com/2011/10/26/proofreading-as-a-career/
Books are products, just like bars of soap or chocolate, and need to be packaged, promoted, and sold at a profit. About seven times as many people work on the commercial side of publishing as on the editorial side in roles such as sales, marketing, production, finance, rights.
|Design||Design eye catching covers for books and sometimes graphics for the inside as well. Supply artwork for campaigns and advertising materials such as posters and leaflets. Arrange photo shoots for covers, cast models, carry out picture research, and make sure you have the right to use images. May be responsible for the typography (fonts) and commissioning illustrators and photographers.||Knowledge of design software such as InDesign, Quark XPress and Photoshop.
Good communication skills: you have regular discussions with the editor and freelance staff. Flexibility.
|You normally need a graphic design degree. Build a strong portfolio.
Many publishers use freelance designers, illustrators and photographers.
|Production||Responsible for the manufacture of the book, including cost, typesetting, paper and quality. Have to organise the printing and binding of the book with printing companies, arrange delivery and shipping, and buy paper. You are the first person to handle the new book!||You will normally start as an assistant production controller and have to look after the scheduling and delivery for particular books. Good courses at London College of Communication|
|Finance||Look after the credit control, forecasting, budgeting and book profitability, cash flow and pay roll.
Work with suppliers including invoicing.
Attention to detail is very important. Able to talk about finance issues in a way the average person can understand.
|Initial posts might be as a sales ledger clerk or purchase ledger. with responsibility for cash payments to the publishers. Qualified accountants may be employed.|
|Marketing||Developing innovative marketing campaigns for titles. Involves promoting books to consumers and to book sellers via newspapers, radio and on-line methods. Preparing presentations. Working on pitches for new books. Balancing budgets.||Creative
Good copywriting skills.
Understanding of retail and consumer trends
|A degree in business or marketing would be helpful here. Work closely with editorial and publicity.|
|Publicity||Combined with marketing in smaller publishers. Gets media exposure for new titles. Responsible for publicising books: arranges signings by authors or gets them slots on radio programmes. Fast paced.||Usually enter as a publicity assistant. Get work experience with a publisher|
|Sales||Sells books to bookshops, wholesalers, supermarkets, libraries and school suppliers. Sales representatives will give presentations to branches of major bookshops and independent bookshops. Export sales involves selling titles abroad and can involve overseas travel.||Working in a bookshop can be a good starting point.|
|Contracts||Drafts contracts between the company and authors, acquires publishing rights and negotiates deals. They will also deal with legal issues such as copyright and litigation. Work closely with the editorial team.||Often you will start as a contracts assistant.
A law degree would be an advantage here.
|Rights||Sells licenses for books and other formats (film,TV, translations, merchandising) in UK and abroad. Can be extremely lucrative. Can involve travel abroad to trade fairs. Negotiating contracts for serialization in a newspaper, a film or a translation.||Normally start as a rights assistant. Not many people know about rights, so it's an advantage if you've done your research. Must enjoy selling.|
Administrative & secretarial work
This may be a back-door route into publishing. You will need good word-processing and computing skills - get any office experience where you can boost these. You may be able to do a word-processing or desk top publishing (DTP) evening course at your local college - our postgraduate links has links to databases of such courses at http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/postgradmenu.htm .
Knowledge of the book trade generally, gained through working in a library or bookshop , is invaluable. You will get to know what the public wants and may meet publishing reps and gain some inside information. Ring all the local bookshops and libraries you know and ask them for a job!
But remember that publishing is not just about books – it covers periodicals, multimedia and websites.
Occupational Profiles for a variety of job roles in publishing can be found at www.prospects.ac.uk/links/PubPrint
|"When there are a lot of people willing to do a job, that job generally doesn't pay well. This is one of four meaningful factors that determine a wage. The others are the specialised skills a job requires, the unpleasantness of a job, and the demand for services that the job fulfills ....
In glamour industries like publishing, advertising and the media, swarms of bright young people throw themselves at grunt jobs that pay poorly and demand unstinting devotion"
- The Society of Young Publishers www.thesyp.org.uk
- The Publishers Association www.publishers.org.uk
- Society for Editors and Proofreaders www.sfep.org.uk
- Women in Publishing www.wipub.org.uk
- British Printing Industries Federation www.britishprint.com
- The Association of Learned and Professional Publishers www.alpsp.org.uk
- Periodical Publishers Association www.ppa.co.uk
- The Association of Authors' Agents www.agentsassoc.co.uk
- Children's Book Circle www.childrensbookcircle.org.uk Association for anyone working with, or interested in, children's books
- Book2book www.booktrade.info UK site with directories of publishers, literary agents, booksellers, distributors and much more
- Harper Collins Graduate Development Programme
- Macmillan www.macmillan.co.uk vacancy information including a graduate training programme
Most publishers do not run graduate schemes and competition is strong, even for routine clerical and secretarial posts. It is essential to make speculative applications and not rely on advertised vacancies.
- Penguin Group www.penguin.co.uk Penguin runs an annual ‘Getting into Publishing’ day for students and graduates. Offer two week work experience placements and sometimes have temporary jobs. Very keen on ethnic minority graduates. The YouTube video of this day features presentations from Penguin people in various divisions including Marketing, Editorial, Publicity, Sales, Rights, Contracts and Operations
- Hodder & Stoughton www.hodder.co.uk
- Pearson www.pearson.co.uk
- Random House www.randomhouse.co.uk
- Orion Publishing www.orionbooks.co.uk
- Little Brown www.littlebrown.co.uk
- ZigZag Education zigzageducation.co.uk well-known publisher in secondary education.
“Never say, ‘I want to be in publishing because I love books’.
Of course that is important but you need to make it very clear that you understand publishing is a profit-orientated business like any other
.... Being clued up on the issues facing the industry—from the changing role of the author to digital rights and intellectual property—is impressive to an employer and work experience is often the best way to develop this commercial awareness".
- Elsevier Science and Health www.elsevier.com
- Kogan Page www.koganpage.com
- Oxford University Press www.oup.com
- The Bookseller www.thebookseller.com
- Judy Fisher www.judyfisher.co.uk used by Penguin
- JFL Search and Selection www.jflrecruit.com specialise in Publishing. Recommended by a Kent graduate.
- Inspired Selection www.inspiredselection.co.uk used by Penguin
- Meridian www.meridian-recruit.com publishing, New Media
- Career Moves www.careermovesgroup.co.uk used by Penguin
- The Media Network www.tmn.co.uk editorial recruitment for print and web publishing, especially magazine journalism.
- www.creativepool.co.uk covers the creative industries including: Advertising, Architecture, Graphic Design, Journalism and Writing, Media Careers, Multimedia and New Media and Publishing
- Inside Book Publishing www.insidebookpublishing.com
- Prospects Sector Briefing on Publishing: www.prospects.ac.uk/links/publishingsb
- The Writers and Artists Yearbook www.writersandartists.co.uk (available in most libraries, including the Careers Information Room) is the best print source of information on publishers: their specialisations and contact details
- Media Careers : Publishing (edited by Liz Brown) good descriptions of the various job roles; advice on getting a job
- Real World Magazine: Media www.realworldmagazine.com/media-and-creative-industries
- Transition Tradition www.transitiontradition.com provides work experience and publication opportunities for students. Links to creative industry organisations - from independent publishers to arts funding bodies - to help students and graduates access fast changing, niche resources. Magazine and forums enable student to share experiences.
- Jane's Information Group www.janes.com provides the government and the Ministry of Defence with specialist research gathered from open sources in the area of defence and law enforcement in particular. Publish this information in a series of magazines and often used as a source in the news. Look for individuals with specialist knowledge in areas such as International Relations, Strategic Studies, War Studies and Politics. A genuine interest in defence is helpful and editorial/journalistic experience also helps. Also run an internship programme.
- Graduate Career Stories: 100 graduate employees describe how they ended up in their current roles. Including science writer, magazine editor and journalist
- Diversity in Publishing www.dipnet.org.uk
- The Publishing Training Centre www.train4publishing.co.uk educational charity dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in publishing. It runs a number of training courses, including some delivered online
- International Centre for Publishing Studies, Oxford Brookes University http://publishing.brookes.ac.uk
- City University, London – MA in Publishing Studies www.city.ac.uk/journalism/courses/postgrad/publishing/index.html
- Kingston University – MA Publishing www.kingston.ac.uk/pgpublish
- London College of Communication – MA Publishing www.lcc.arts.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/ma_publishing.htm
- University College London – MA Publishing www.publishing.ucl.ac.uk
- London School of Publishing www.publishing-school.co.uk private college running practical courses in areas such as editing and proofreading, picture research and electronic publishing
- University of Plymouth – MA Publishing www.mapublishing.co.uk
- Centre for Publishing Studies, University of Stirling www.pubstd.stir.ac.uk
Learning to use desktop publishing software will greatly improve your CV for publishing and journalism jobs. Microsoft Publisher is part of MS Office and although basic, will get you started. Even better are Quark Xpress and In Design: you can download fully working demos of these professional packages which you can practice and then add to your CV. Adobe Photoshop (image manipulation) will also help, as will basic web page design skills as so much publishing is now electronic. See our Computing Skills page for more details of how to get these packages www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/ComputingSkills.htm#Publishing
- Practice Interview for Journalism
- Media Careers
- Creative Job hunting
- Example Media CV and Media Covering Letter
Last fully updated 2011