Trying To Get Into Publishing?

Trying to get into publishing? For those in the know (and with bookshelves to be proud of) the publishing industry is an ideal and glamorous sector to get into – who wouldn’t want to be a part of discovering, creating and shouting about the next A Handmaid’s Tale, Memoirs of a Geisha or The Lord of the Rings?

When asked what you’re thinking of doing with your future the phrase ‘I’d love to get into publishing…’ rolls off the tongue. But why is publishing something people have to get into in the first place? Why do the people have made ‘in’ always describe themselves as being ‘really lucky’? Is it really that tough?

Maybe, maybe not; but if you are interested in publishing, before you go ahead and send off your CVs and covering letters to every house and imprint, big and small, here’s a couple of things to think about.

Editorial EXCETERA

If you’re going around saying that you want to get into publishing, you’ve got to be ready for the follow up question, ‘Any particular area/role?’ Maybe you already have something in mind but, either way, it’s important to research as much as you can to find out about all the different options out there.

End to end, throughout a new book’s life it sees several different areas of publishing; from literary agents and scouts, to design, editorial, sales, rights, contracts, and marketing & publicity teams, and then there’s events, educational materials and audio. The publishing houses themselves vary too – are you interested in a mainstream educational publisher, or a small independent publisher that focuses on digitising out of print books, for example? Don’t forget, publishing houses also need HR and tech teams and the like, there’s a lot beneath the surface.

The more you hone in on what it is exactly that you want, the more likely you are to get it – and it’ll come across far more naturally in your covering letters too.

Remember: ‘I’m actually quite interested in children’s literature, probably non-fiction more than fiction. I’d want to be on the marketing side of things…’ sounds a lot better than ‘Uhmm, editorial, I guess. I just really like publishing…’


Not quite what you pictured

On the other hand, it’s important to go in with an open mind. If you’re looking for an internship or an entry level job you need to be aware that you may not get to work for your dream publishers in the perfect department or position the first time. But that doesn’t mean you should turn away from an opportunity. Put your all into your work. Often in publishing, people will start off in one place and move somewhere so get yourself and your enthusiasm noticed and learn as much as you can – you may find that you actually enjoy things a lot more than you first thought.


Anyone out there?

Frustratingly, opportunities in publishing are often not advertised on job boards in the usual way. Instead, companies may shout about their work experience schemes or new job roles purely on their own site. Or sometimes not at all. This means that finding that dream role for you just got a whole lot harder as you’ll need to check out the sites of publishing houses etc individually and maintain any contacts and relationships you make in industry in case something comes up for you in the future. More leg work, yes, but it’ll pay off in the end.


Not just books

When you hear the word publishing perhaps what jumps into your mind are the publishing heavyweights, the names and symbols from the spines and inside pages of your favourite books. But what about the other stuff? Newspapers, magazines, blogs – they’re all publishing too. People publish picture heavy books on photography and fashion. And medicine – medical publishing is a big important industry too. Don’t confine yourself to one set image; think outside the box.


Pick me! Pick me!

You don’t necessarily need an MA in publishing to get into the industry, but you do need to be able to evidence your interest and enthusiasm by being more than just a booklover.

If you’re struggling to find anything at the moment, think about what you can be doing to perk up your CV and experience. Be a part of a society or club; take an online course; or simply stay up-to-date on what’s happening at the moment in the industry. Maybe join the Society of Young Publishers too, and sign up to The Bookseller and Publisher’s Weekly.

By focussing on and learning more about your dream you’ll be able to speak more confidently about it in the future and it’ll help you stand out.

Best of luck!

For 3 great opportunities in publishing, see this blog post.

Inspiring Interns is a recruitment agency specialising in all the internships and graduate jobs London has to offer.