Always fancied a career in publishing, but been unsure where to start? This guide will give you the advice needed on the best way to start a career within the competitive publishing industry.
1. If you are in a stable financial position, consider doing an internship.
The majority of large publishing companies offer internships to individuals looking to get into the business. While interns are usually paid very little, if anything, the experience can act as a long term investment – it will significantly boost your chances of finding work afterwards. If the work is unpaid, remember this will not last forever; many publishing professionals started out with unpaid work experience! The experience can act as an invaluable eye-opener to the industry, giving you a greater understanding of key roles inside publishing.
2. Apply for jobs without publishing experience.
In spite of the previous point, while direct experience is a definite plus for any job, do not feel discouraged from attempting to join the industry due to a lack of experience. More often than not, your previous work or academic experiences will have given you transferable skills that will help ease you in to the industry. Any experience in copywriting, proofreading or promoting through social media will be applicable, along with a number of other skills. Make sure you emphasise these similarities you hold and demonstrate that you are aware how they relate to the specific role. Be prepared to start low down the publishing ladder; getting your foot in the door is the best way to climb.
3. Specify an area in publishing that appeals most to you.
For larger companies especially, publishing is split into multiple departments, and it is important that you can distinguish between them and understand the different roles. Departments can include (but are definitely not limited to) Editorial, Sales, Publicity, Finance and Human Resources. For a full list, view the Major Departments in a Publishing House. If you are set on working in a publicity department, make sure you have a basic understanding of the other sectors, and how they all mesh together.
4. Don’t create boundaries for yourself.
The majority of individuals attempting to break into the publishing industry want to work within general or children’s fiction. While there is nothing wrong with having a dream goal, don’t ignore other areas of publishing such as educational writing because of this. Jobs in fictional literature are limited, and it is important to keep your options open. In addition, be aware that the industry changes with the times; digital publishing is flourishing, and with it eBooks, web, audio and video literature are becoming more popular.
5. Make sure you do your research.
When applying for a position, find out the company’s bestselling titles, and if possible, read through some of them. Show that you have a basic understanding of the types of literature they publish and the authors they work with. Showing passion in the product is important, simply stating “I love reading” will not be enough! Be prepared to discuss your favourite books, and what makes them stand out to you. If you can talk passionately about work the company has been responsible for publishing, this will certainly act in your favour.
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