• The Publishing Post

Creative Upskilling Tips

By Annabella Costantino, Misha Manani and Rowan Groat What does creativity look like in publishing? Let’s break down the industry myth that the only creative job in publishing is a design role! The nature of the publishing industry is creative at its heart: from marketing and publicity campaigns that inspire readers to pre-order, to editorial and production teams that make words on a page look printer-ready. The ability to be creative can be found in most corners of the publishing world and we wanted to break down those areas in this issue.

Creativity in Publishing

  • Design: The most commonly associated with creative skills, the Design department is responsible for the aesthetic of a book, internally and externally. Whilst Production works on the logistical sides of costings, schedules and suppliers, Design works with cover design, typesetting, typography and illustration.


  • Sales & Marketing: If you work in Marketing, you will know that one of the most important aspects of campaign work is creative thinking. Creativity can manifest itself in various ways, with marketing and sales assistants having to pivot their strategies to adapt to the market and be responsive to changes in climate, trends and patterns.


  • Publicity & Public Relations (PR): PR strategies, when executed well, will understand the target market and segment it accordingly. By targeting the right audiences, PR content such as press releases, blog tours and social media posts will enable a team to be creative when accessing their readers.


  • Editorial: Editorial departments work with writers, agents and other publishing professionals such as freelancers. To sustain long-lasting relationships, an Editorial department will have to work collaboratively and embrace creative ideas to expand their outreach and produce the best possible publications.


Online Software Recommendations

  • Adobe InDesign: A popular inter-departmental software in publishing. There is a Beginners Course by Kate Silver and an Advanced training course by Daniel Scott among many. They cover tools from customisation, colour palettes and text formatting. This requires a Skillshare premium account for only £5.99 a month.


  • Adobe Photoshop: There are also courses for Photoshop on Skillshare. However, there is a free course run by YouTuber, Envato Tuts+, for beginners. There are twenty-three lessons in one video covering layering, colour and hue adjustments, clipping masks and retouching – your ticket to becoming a Photoshop pro!


  • Canva: Ever wondered where our incredible web graphics come from? There are simple Canva tutorials run by YouTubers, Aurelius Tjin and Learn with Seb, which include design tips and tricks for creating eye-catching visuals. This is another digital software used for social media posts and marketing materials.

  • LinkedIn Learning: Creativity isn’t just about your ability to use digital tools effectively, it’s also about your mindset in the creative industry. Andy Epstein has created a fantastic course that talks about how to succeed as an in-house creative through communication. From how to contribute to creative company culture to professional etiquette tips, this is your guide to building a creative identity!

Bonus tip: if you’re looking to start your own creative blog or portfolio, some online platforms we would recommend are Wix, Squarespace and WordPress – all easy to use!


People to Follow


  • Amy-Mae Baxter: Assistant Editor at Hachette and Editor-in-Chief at Bad Form. The Bad Form Review is hosting brilliant creative courses this month. In particular, the ‘How to Get Published’ workshop and the ‘How to Start Your Magazine’ course. Amy-Mae also has a YouTube channel with a helpful video on how she got into publishing.


  • Sam Missingham: Founder of The Empowered Author, Sam is a well-connected industry professional committed to helping publishing hopefuls and authors. This website provides book design, marketing, publicity, creative tips, resources and support. Sign up for her newsletter and become a member to receive exclusive perks!


  • Christina Storey: Creator of the Publishing Hopefuls Facebook Group and the Storey Instagram Book Club. Christina has nurtured a super friendly and supportive group on Facebook, making it a great way to meet those aspiring to get into publishing and learn from those who are currently working. Her Instagram has book recommendations and 'week in the life' clips, so don’t miss out!

  • Robert Chilver: Freelance Marketer at Adventures with Words, Rob previously worked for Headline Publishing and Waterstones Head Office. In 2020, Rob decided to go freelance with Adventures with Words, which aims to provide publishing professionals with bespoke digital marketing solutions. Check out Rob’s Twitter here.

  • Daniel Bassett: Waterstones Bookseller, Book Blogger and Publishing Hopeful, Dan has a beautiful Instagram feed, full of book reviews. He got the chance to interview with the BBC in February and welcomes proofs and advanced reader copies (ARCs) to cover.

Thank you for reading our Creative Upskilling Tips, we hope you found them useful! Be sure to check out our next feature in issue twenty-six, where we will be sharing Upskilling Tips for Cover Letters!


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