#InspiredTweetUp – How To Get Into Publishing

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Inspired TweetUp – 20th September 2012, 12 midday

How To Get Into Publishing

  • Calling all those looking for their first role in Publishing.
  • We’re about to start our live tweet-up on How To Get Into Publishing, feel free to send us any questions!
  • The next hour will offer an overall discussion on entry-level publishing roles and tips on how to get your foot in the door.
  • Publishing is a competitive business so it’s essential when applying for jobs in the industry, to have a basic understanding of the various sectors and roles.
  • Here are a few things to think about to ensure you use your time effectively in advance of applying for jobs:
  • What sort of role suits you best? What do you think you will enjoy the most?
  • There is a lot more to publishing than editorial!
  • Take some time to investigate the different departments involved in the publication of a book or journal.
  • What sort of publication would you like to work on?
  • In addition to book publishing, have you considered academic journals or electronic publishing, for example?
  • Now let’s take a look at entry-level roles in the different departments within a traditional Publishing company.
  • Editorial Assistant: to assist senior editorial staff in the administration of commissioning or production (editorial process) of content.
  • The level of responsibility and range of tasks will depend on the structure and size of the company.
  • A fantastic way to gain an insight into the Editorial process!
  • Key skills: proven Administrative and computer skills;
  • A qualification in editing can help but is not essential;
  • Educated to degree level or equivalent;
  • Word processing skills & enthusiasm to learn & carryout what can sometimes be repetitive & mundane tasks;
  • Previous work experience in a publishing environment (ideally in an editorial department).
  • You will also need: an eye for detail, good organisation skills & good communication (written & verbal).
  • Design: Some books from fiction to STM books follow pre-set typographic designs, but for the more integrated colour books, a more complex design function is required.
  • In-house designers work either in a design department or in a production department, reporting to the design or production manager.
  • Key skills: A creative mind and an idea for what sells & understanding of the market
  • A vocational qualification or equivalent (pre-entry specialist training is virtually essential);
  • Technical proficiency; a concise and well-presented portfolio; knowledge of QuarkXpress/InDesign, Photoshop, or other software packages.
  • Production: The production department is the link between editors and designers and external suppliers.
  • They are responsible for the physical process of transforming the manuscript and artwork into the finished book or journal. 
  • This includes everything from ordering the paper, obtaining estimates for typesetting, printing and binding to arranging proofs and print-run numbers with an appropriate printer.
  • Production staff must be able to work with editors and designers effectively, as well as prioritising tight cost control and the maintenance of dates, which requires excellent communication and people skills. 
  • Key skills: Numeracy; Effective communication skills (in-house staff and external suppliers);
  • Computer literacy & often knowledge of InDesign.
  • Sales: Sales involves calling on booksellers and encouraging them to stock both new and backlist titles.
  • Their role in supporting the efforts of marketing is critical to the success of a book and the sales team work closely with the editorial and marketing teams.
  • Academic and Educational Sales people also have to visit bookshops, schools and institutes of higher education.
  • This is to discuss forthcoming publications with buyers, teachers and academics, and in some cases establish where there might be gaps in the market for future publications.
  • Key skills: Articulacy  & excellent communication;
  • An ability to build relationships, and influence people;
  • A good understanding of the UK book trade.
  • Marketing: Marketing is frequently divided into two separate functions.
  • One focuses on pre-planning the marketing campaign including press advertising and the production of catalogues and promoting materials, the other is publicity.
  • Obviously the market will strongly influence the type of marketing activity carried out.
  • There are, for example, substantial differences in the way children’s books are marketed and sold and the way an adult bestseller or an academic journal will be promoted.
  • The aim of the Publicity Department is to make the media, book trade, and consumers conscious of the company and what it offers or a particular new title; and hence stimulate demand. 
  • It concentrates on getting press exposure and organising promotional events such as book launches and author signing tours to establish a book when it is first published.
  • Key skills: Educated preferably to degree level or equivalent;
  • An understanding of consumer buying habits and why people want to read books.
  • It is advantageous in looking at the way to market them – bookselling experience is often seen as an advantage.
  • Specialist knowledge of the material being published (i.e. a Maths degree if working in the Marketing department of a publisher that is printing Mathematics textbooks).
  • Rights: The selling of rights is a small and specialist career area.
  • Rights departments have the responsibility for the selling of all kinds of rights for published books including serial rights, foreign language rights, rights to publish in paperback, television and film rights, merchandising rights and occasionally electronic.
  • Rights staff check and monitor the contact made between the publisher and others.
  • The reactive work involves responding to enquiries and seeking copyright permission to reproduce material.
  • Rights work involves close contact with all the other departments on a regular basis.
  • Key skills: Educated to degree level or equivalent;
  • Good interpersonal & negotiation skills;
  • Modern languages;
  • Customer related skills;
  • In a small publishing house, the editor will probably deal with the author contracts but in larger houses, there will be a contracts department.
  • They will maintain responsibility for ensuring that these documents are in line with the original deal arranged by the editor.
  • Substantial liaison needs to take place with the rights department to take into account all possible markets for the book and therefore organising permissions on relevant materials.
  • Key skills:  Meticulous eye for detail;
  • Legal background could be useful;
  • So there is an overview of the types of roles. Now to think about the types of roles.
  • Which area inspires you?
  • Trade publishers:
  • These make up the most visible part of the industry.  They form the mainstay of public libraries, bookshops and book clubs.
  • Consumer publishing is the high-risk end of the business – book failures are frequent but possible rewards great.
  • Children’s publishers:
  • Children’s books are published by the specialist children’s divisions of the major consumer book publisher.
  • They must appeal to both children and adults and are usually aimed at age bands reflecting the development of reading skill.
  • Educational publishers:
  • These provide materials for schools, chiefly textbooks and sometimes supported by ancillary printed materials for class use or for teachers i.e. workbooks, cassettes and teacher’s books.
  • The books are market specific.
  • A knowledge of and interest in the national curriculum would certainly stand you in good stead as would any teaching qualifications (e.g. PGCE, CELTA).
  • Academic, STM and Professional book publishing:
  • Academic publishing can refer to books published in all subjects from 1st year university/college students and above.
  • The term is often restricted to the humanities and social sciences.
  • Scientific, technical and medical (STM) is undertaken predominantly by large publishers.
  • These publishers are mostly outside central London with a high concentration in Oxford.
  • Professional publishing serves the “professions” such as law, veterinary studies, architecture, accountancy, engineering etc.
  • As with educational publishing, it is a distinct advantage to have a qualification in the subject matter that you are printing.  This is especially true of STM publishing.
  • Journals publishing:
  • Journals are published by not-for-profit societies and research institutes and by divisions of academic, STM publishers, including the university presses.
  • The content is not pre-determined and is based on contributors submitting papers and original research to an academic editor.
  • How do you know you are doing the right thing?
  • It is possible at the start of your career to move across to other departments and areas of publishing.
  • Over time this becomes more difficult, as you will need specialist knowledge of a subject area and specialist knowledge of the activity and markets. 
  • In smaller firms, it may be easier to move around the firm and learn different jobs.
  • Such knowledge, however, may not be considered specialist enough by the larger companies. 
  • Junior staff in large firms may find it hard to cross the more pronounced departmental boundaries but will gain in-depth expertise afforded by the greater resources of the publisher.
  • Tips: Do lots of research into the different types of publications and relevant publishing companies.
  • Make as many contacts as possible – during work experience placements or join relevant societies, eg. The SYP, WIP etc.
  • Networking can play a key role in helping you find your first job and here are a few tips when working the floor…
  • Make sure you introduce yourself;
  • Dress to impress;
  • Maintain eye contact with whom your speaking to;
  • Ensure you bring plenty of business cards;
  • Try to get a list of attendees prior to the event;
  • Identify key people you want to meet ahead of time ;
  • Look them up on LinkedIn before you go;
  • Think about specific information you want to find out, and prepare some related questions;
  • Remember that other people are there to network too;
  • Do follow up any interesting conversations with a brief thank you email or perhaps a connection on LinkedIn;
  • Do as much relevant work experience as you can. This looks great on your CV and also reinforces your decision about what sort of role you are looking for and type of publisher.
  • If unpaid work experience is not possible, then a good track record of administrative and general office work is also very valuable.
  • This proves computer and IT skills, and competency in working to deadlines, working in teams, attention to detail, receiving instructions etc.
  • Have a look at jobs being advertised in publishing.  This will give you a good idea of what is involved in specific roles and basic requirements you need to aim for.
  • London first jobs in publishing, contact: Abigail Barclay; Tel: 0207 440 1491 Email: a.barclay@inspiredselection.com
  • Oxford first jobs in publishing, contact: Mel Cunningham; Tel: 01865 260277 Email: m.cunningham@inspiredselection.com
  • We hope you found that useful, please do email us any questions and sign up to our blog for details of the next one https://inspiredselection.wordpress.com/
  • For those who joined us at the end, all the tips will be published shortly on our blog https://inspiredselection.wordpress.com/
  • Details of our next tweet up will be on our blog and on here! https://inspiredselection.wordpress.com/
  • Thanks to everyone that got involved, we’ve really enjoyed it.
  • To keep abreast of the latest publishing roles sign up to our free vacancy alerts http://www.inspiredselection.com/candidates/-/page/vacancy-update-service/
  • Sign up on our website to register with us http://www.inspiredselection.com/ Look forward to hearing from you!

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