Publishing Internships – What Do They Involve?

As an English grad, you may be keen on interning at a publishing house to gain some editing experience. And why not, if you feel most at home when surrounded by books?

Still, publishing companies are difficult to get into without experience. If possible, it’s wise you work an internship or three. While some companies advertise internships, your best bet is to research local publishing companies and drop them an email. Attach your CV and have a basic cover letter ready to alter for every company you contact. Ensure it shows that you’ve done your research; explain why you’re particularly interested in gaining work experience with them. Showcase what you have to offer them.

What should you expect to get up to if you intern at a publishing house?


File, tidy and make drinks

Don’t be offended when you’re given jobs such as filing, tidying and making tea. It’s part of the experience so do it with a smile on your face! After all, these are all jobs other workers will carry out too!

It’s probably a good move to offer to make drinks and even take jobs off other workers’ hands if the moment arises. It might feel a little boring at times but employees will be far more impressed if you do so without complaint.


Jobs from other departments

All employees may have been notified of your time at the company, meaning you could be sent jobs entirely unrelated to editing. Dive right in and learn as much as you can from the role provided. Maybe you’ll learn a thing or two about Excel, sales or even a graphic design computer programme. Revel in your new knowledge!


Find potential images for future books

You may be asked to research, select and present potential images to possibly feature in a future book. Good images can make or break a book, so try and find really suitable images.


Research for future books

If the company you’re interning at publishes non-fiction books, you may be asked to research for a future book. If so, grab this opportunity with both hands. Go above and beyond what you’re asked to do; find out plenty of information and really work hard with what you’ve been asked to research.


A bit of editing

You’re likely to get a few editing tasks and it’s sensible to take these incredibly seriously. It’s what you want to do long term, so ensure you carry out this task to the best of your ability. Add edits with the method that they use; if you’re not provided with one, ask for a protocol to follow.

When you’re asked to edit, do so with precision. Take your time and don’t be afraid to correct any part of the work. From punctuation to words that don’t quite work to an error in the layout, note it all. Even if your suggestions aren’t taken on board, it’ll look good that you’ve taken the task seriously. Sometimes there will be very few ─ if any ─ edits; don’t be afraid to say just this!

Even if you’re unsure as to whether you want to work in publishing, testing out the industry could help you decide. Just a week at a company can give you a feel of what being an editor at a publishing company would entail. If companies are willing to take you on again in the future, take advantage of this. Get the most experience out of them that you can!

More than anything, make sure you ask questions and learn as much as possible. If a company offers work experience, you’re expected to be interested and motivated to learn more. It’s up to you what you get out of your internship, so never be afraid to ask questions and get involved!


Kathryn – known as Kat even though she prefers Kath – studied English Language at Cardiff University and now wants to finally write that book she’s always been meaning to write. Check out her Twitter, Instagram and blog to delve into her mind further.

Inspiring Interns is an internship and graduate jobs agency.