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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Upskilling Tips for Further Education

By Meghan Capper, Tanvi Jaiswal, Misha Manani and Georgia Stack

In this issue, the Upskilling Team delves into the publishing world of further education. We’ll be discussing our individual experiences, including how postgraduate education might be the right path for some people, but not others. We cover how our postgraduate experiences have benefitted us as individuals, but stress that it is not an essential requirement to have a degree at all to thrive in the industry.

Meghan – MA in English Literature at Newcastle University (expected 2022)

Hi, I’m Meghan and I’m currently finishing my master’s degree in English Literature.

Why did I choose to do this course?

  • I loved studying Literature in Newcastle and I wasn’t ready to give it up yet! Even if you didn’t do an undergrad in English, a master’s can demonstrate you’re a book lover.

  • Some people think that master’s degrees are only beneficial if you need them for your career, but having an extra year of studying is a valuable way to acquire skills and develop further on a personal and academic level.

  • It’s how you use your time as an MA student that might give you an extra leg up in future job applications.

What are the connections between the course and publishing?

  • Manuscript, Print and Digital module: we transcribed and devised notes for a 17th century recipe book and coded them using a software called XML Editor. My experience in this module demonstrates that I have proficient IT skills and can pay close attention to detail whilst working with manuscripts.

  • Developed a specialised literary knowledge: having specific genres, writing styles and authors that you love could be transferable to a role in a literary agency where agents acquire clients based on their personal specialities.

  • Newcastle University also has a children’s literature MA pathway which would be great for someone with a tailored interest in children’s and young adult publishing.

Tips for a publishing-related MA degree

  • Apply for funding: don’t be shy to apply for scholarships and bursaries because any extra help is handy to have.

  • Study in a city: I’ve found it beneficial to stay in a city where I can network and have access to opportunities and resources.

  • Join student groups and activities: I was able to be a part of the student committee for our Postgraduate Conference where I developed key events management, administrative and team-building skills crucial to any publishing role.

  • Use University Careers Services: take advantage of this opportunity, because it has been a huge support when writing CVs and cover letters for publishing.

Tanvi – Publishing MA at the University of Derby as an international student (expected 2022)

Hi, I’m Tanvi and I’m currently completing my MA in Publishing. During the year-long course, you learn about the different aspects of the industry which enhances your understanding of how everything works e.g. publishing laws and print publishing. This course is useful for anyone looking to change careers or learn more about a book’s journey and the industry.

Why did I choose to do this course?

  • Change in interests: by the final year of my BA English Hons in India, I knew that I didn’t want to pursue a master’s in the same discipline. At first, I looked at creative writing courses since they aligned with my passion for writing. That is when I came across publishing courses and after looking through the course modules, I found it to be the perfect next step in my career.

  • To understand the UK publishing industry: unfortunately, there isn’t a single university in India which offers an MA Publishing course so I decided to move to the UK. As an international student, I think this course, which is offered at a number of universities across the UK, is a brilliant way to know more about the publishing industry.

What are the connections between the course and publishing?

  • Modules: the course spreads itself out across several modules – digital and print designing, marketing and sales, publishing law and editorial which are directly linked to the publishing industry, and is advantageous for people who do not have previous professional experience.

  • Professional teachers: most of these courses are taught by industry professionals which is an advantage as you will be taught by people who have real-life experience within the industry.

  • Placement year: a number of universities offering this course also offer a placement year, which is a huge upper hand considering how competitive the publishing industry is. These placement years are usually added as a second year where you get to work within the industry through the help of your university. This can go a long way to help your publishing career.

Application tips for a Publishing MA

  • Focus on your personal statement and show a genuine interest in publishing, as it is your first impression on the academics deciding on your application.

  • Talk about how your undergraduate degree underlines some transferable skills to publishing.

  • Lastly, make sure to include relevant experience (if any) in your application.

Misha – Columbia Publishing Course at Columbia University (graduated 2022)

Hi everyone! I’m Misha and I recently graduated from King’s College London and the Columbia Publishing Course (CPC). During CPC you spend three weeks learning about book publishing and three weeks focused on digital and magazine publishing. This is a certification course mainly for recent graduates.

Why did I choose to do this course?

  • The USA and UK publishing worlds are very interconnected: speakers would frequently refer to their relationship with the UK which highlights how closely we work with each other. It’s useful to understand both sides!

  • Create connections: you always get a chance to talk to speakers and ask questions. Your peers are also on a similar journey and are the future of publishing!

  • Temporal aspect: I knew I didn’t want to spend a year pursuing a master’s. This six-week intensive course explored publishing in great detail with tangible results and assignments.

  • Understand all aspects of publishing: there is a CPC in Oxford for four weeks on book publishing. However, I was interested in learning about how magazine and digital publishing worked, so I applied to New York.

What are the connections between the course and publishing?

  • Key skills: time management, communication, creativity, commercial awareness, working independently and collaboratively and being proactive.

  • A week-long book workshop where you work in groups to create an imprint of a larger publishing company. We each came up with a book idea and worked on the editorial, marketing, publicity, design and rights plan. Professionals in the industry then evaluated our submissions and provided feedback.

  • A week-long media brand workshop where you create your own digital media company in a group. Everyone has a dedicated role e.g. Editor, Business Manager, Social Media Editor etc. You then receive feedback from those in the industry.

  • We had many different lectures. For instance, children’s publishing, creating marketing and publicity plans, what to look for when reading book submissions, how books get adapted into films and profit and loss (P&L).

  • You have career sessions for writing a CV, cover letter and thank you notes.

Application tips:

  • Show a demonstrated interest in publishing e.g. editor for a newspaper, book blogger etc.

  • Mention books you have read by American authors.

  • Don’t just talk about what you have done, discuss why you did it.

  • Express a genuine interest in a publishing career e.g. where did it begin?

Georgia – History Graduate from Bristol University (not pursuing postgraduate education)

Hi everyone! I’m Georgia and I recently graduated from Bristol University. I decided not to continue in further education because, to be honest, I was exhausted. Luckily in my ideal career (publishing), postgraduate education is not required for entry-level jobs! I’m also interested in a public sector career.

How did I make this decision?

  • Do what feels right for you: I knew I didn’t want to continue in education for another year and that it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t! If you do feel up for the challenge of a publishing MA or related postgraduate course, then definitely look into it, as it will be a great foundation to prepare you for a publishing career.

  • Research the requirements for your career pathway: many publishers have mentioned that they don’t require an MA in publishing, nor does it put you at an advantage in the application process. Experience is the priority!

  • Considering other options: since I’m open to careers outside of publishing, I knew that it wouldn’t be the best use of my time or money. Instead, I took to gaining as much experience as I could!

How to stand out without an MA?

  • Experience: however big or small, it is key to making sure that you have something to confidently speak about in applications and interviews. Joining The Publishing Post or becoming a bookseller is a great start.

  • Start a side hustle: create a Bookstagram, BookTok or a book blog to highlight your enthusiasm for the publishing industry.

  • Tailor your CV or application: it really shows when you’ve done your research on the publishing company you’re applying to. An applicant who has clearly done their research on the company, its products and its news will be sure to stand out.

What you are currently doing now/future plans?

  • I’m working full-time as an administrative assistant at my local council to earn some money. However, I recently completed an internship with an independent publisher whilst working full-time and contributing to The Publishing Post each fortnight.

  • My future plans are… see where life takes me!

Thanks for reading Issue Fifty-Four! Join us again for Issue Fifty-Five, where we will cover Upskilling Tips for Publishing Newbies.


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