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Upskilling Tips for Gaining Experience

By Sukhpreet Chana, Misha Manani and Joe Pilbrow

Gaining experience can be difficult for those who are just entering the world of book publishing. It can all seem quite daunting, but with the right experience, you can be well on your way to achieving your ideal role. We’ll be discussing tips for gaining experience in the publishing profession, including useful websites, areas to find work experiences and more. Be sure to use our top tips to get ahead in the industry!

Publishing Job Search Websites and Accounts

  • The Bookseller: Browse job positions on a regular basis. The website updates frequently so you won’t miss out on the application deadline. The ‘Jobs in Books’ recruitment website features postings for job seekers at any level.

  • Creative Access: This is a great website for beginners who want to gain experience in the publishing industry, as it offers roles to accommodate various skill sets. You can create an account to start easily applying for roles. Creative Access is an inclusive and diverse website that aims to support individuals from all career stages, creative industries and backgrounds.

  • Twitter Accounts: You can keep up-to-date with the latest publishing posts and follow like-minded book publishers. Engage with the community for events, job updates and other relevant topics to help you build connections in the publishing community. Start by following @publishingjobs, @JobsAtHarper, @HachetteCareers, @penguinukjobs and @JobsinBooks.

  • Society of Young Publishers (SYP): Sign up as a member to get access to the jobs board. This is perfect for graduates, newcomers and those who want to take the next step in their career.

  • LinkedIn: A platform where you can apply for publishing roles, network with recruiters and connect with people in the industry. Optimise your job search by filtering for entry-level roles and apply either by filling out application forms that take you to the company’s website, or by using the ‘easy apply’ feature to upload your CV.

Places for Publishing-Related Work Experience

  • Volunteer at book festivals: There are dozens of book festivals across the UK every year and they wouldn’t be able to operate without the thousands of volunteers who help out. From the world-famous Hay Festival in Wales to the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival and the Edinburgh Book Festival, find a festival near you where you can gain valuable experience.

  • Work for a bookshop: Pop in, introduce yourself and ask if they have any vacancies! If not, most booksellers will jump at the chance to have an extra pair of hands volunteering. This is a great way of demonstrating your passion for the industry which will help with job applications and interviews.

  • Apply for jobs at literary agencies: They play a vital role by bringing authors and publishing houses together. Broaden your search by including ‘Literary Agent Assistant’ in your job searches. Again, don’t be afraid to approach an agency and ask them about current vacancies, internships, or volunteering opportunities.

  • Join The Publishing Post: Volunteering with us is one of the best ways to build experience! We have loads of diverse roles including writing, editorial, proofreading and typesetting. Read more about how you can join the team here.

Top Tips and Advice

  • Tailor your CV: Highlight the keywords in the job description before you start your application. If it mentions specific skills e.g. being proactive, make sure you demonstrate that in your CV. Check our previous article about Upskilling Tips for CVs.

  • Write a strong cover letter: Talk about the titles you like on a publisher’s list, or a marketing and publicity campaign they did that caught your attention. Find a way to stand out from other candidates. Using specific examples shows that you’ve done your research and have a genuine interest in joining the team. Look at our former article, Upskilling Tips for Cover Letters.

  • Develop and show your core skills: Communication, organisation, prioritisation, time management, eye for detail, resilience, initiative, problem-solving, collaboration, adaptability and creativity tend to pop-up on job advertisements in book publishing, so sprinkle them in your applications and interviews.

  • Start a side hustle: A different way to demonstrate your interest in the publishing industry, grow your skill set and show you’re a go-getter. You might think about starting a Bookstagram/Booktok/book blog account, creating a magazine (like our very own Chelsea Graham did), launching a Bookish YouTube channel or founding a publishing network.

  • Additional resources: Go through the list we have created here. Not forgetting the Publishing Hopefuls Toolkit and the IPG Jobs Board, if independent publishers are of interest. We will update our list with more resources.

Thank you for reading Issue Eighty! Join us again for Issue Eighty-One where we will cover Upskilling Dictionary: Art & Design.


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