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Upskilling Tips: Black People in Publishing

By Sukhpreet Chana, Misha Manani and Joe Pilbrow

Black History Month first took place in the UK in 1987 to celebrate accomplishments that have been neglected throughout time and appreciate Black endeavours. We will be discussing tips for Black people in publishing and the opportunities available for the Black community. Here are some fundamental resources that may help people from the Black community achieve their goals in publishing.

Work Opportunities and Resources

  • Penguin Random House The Scheme: A six-month paid programme for ethnic minority groups wanting to gain experience in the industry. This helps you to hone your skills and deepen your knowledge of the publishing ecosystem.

  • Hachette Traineeship: A 12-month paid scheme for underrepresented groups to widen the talent pool in the industry. Each trainee tends to be assigned to different divisions, some of whom have the opportunity to work at Curtis Brown and Waterstones each for a month.

  • HarperCollins Marketing Traineeship: This 12-month paid programme for ethnic minority groups. If selected, you can collaborate with marketing managers to gain vital experience with agents, authors and other departments. This helps you learn and develop new skills in adult or children’s marketing.

  • Curtis Brown Creative Scholarship: A free online course for underrepresented people that allows you to work on your writing skills for six months. It helps you unleash your talent with a creative outlook without any economic barriers.

  • Creative Access Positive Action Scheme: This scheme involves paid internships that support people in the creative industry from BAME and low economic communities. They offer a monthly masterclass induction about the scheme for fellow interns. You can find this on the opportunities board for more listings.

Black Publishing Organisations and Networks

  • Black Agents and Editors’ Group (BAE): A community for agents and editors of African descent working in UK book publishing. They also offer a mentoring programme for Black people. You can sign-up here, or if you are already working in agenting or editorial, you can join the BAE with this form.

  • Black Writers Guild: This represents professional and emerging British writers of Black African and Black African-Caribbean heritage. Their aim is to hold the publishing industry to account with regard to the systemic inequalities and underrepresentation of Black writers.

  • Bad Form Review: The magazine includes reviews, reading lists and opinion pieces that highlight and give a platform to writers of colour. They publish a yearly print issue, as well as posting regular book recommendations and hosting events. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

  • The Good Literary Agency: They assist BAME authors (and disabled and LGBTQ+ authors) with developing manuscripts and proposals. Read more about how they are supporting Black writers.

  • Join employee networks: Elevate is the BAME employee-led network at HarperCollins UK. The Thrive network at Hachette aims to build cultural awareness and champion their BAME employees and writers. Bloom does the same at Bloomsbury.

Top Tips for Working in Publishing

  • Network with Black literary agents: Next to authors, they start the publishing ecosystem and are involved with the book’s journey early in the process. Our suggestions include Davinia Andrew-Lynch, Natalie Jerome, Nelle Andrew, Silé Edwards and Emma Paterson.

  • Build a community: Even if your place of work does not have a network for ethnic minorities, feel free to start one! You could even do this on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or other social networks just like the Publishing Hopefuls or Assistants in Publishing Group. Connect, be proactive and maintain those relationships!

Thank you for reading the Black History Month special for issue eighty-three! Join us again for issue eighty-four where we will cover the Upskilling Dictionary: Audio Department.


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