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Upskilling Tips for Trade Publishing

By Amelia Bashford, Misha Manani and Rowan Groat

Trade publishing includes general interest books in both fiction and non-fiction written for the non-specialist reader. It can include all genres from fantasy, thriller and romance to cookbooks, self-help books and DIY manuals. It often comes with its own unique set of challenges and we have compiled a list of key skills, networks and resources that will help strengthen your knowledge and understanding.


Publishers Association: The largest member organisation for UK publishing whose primary aim is to ensure the value of publishing. They offer guidance to jobseekers and run innovative campaigns.

Publishing Scotland: Another member organisation with a regional emphasis offering networking, job opportunities, informative events and industry insights.

The Society of Young Publishers: Become a member of this fantastic organisation to reap the benefits of regular networking events, panels, workshops and book clubs. You can also apply to be a volunteer, an opportunity that will provide you with invaluable experience.

Creative Access: They partner with various organisations across the creative industries to provide jobseekers with mentoring schemes and opportunities.

Key Skills in Trade Publishing

Managerial Roles:

  • Excellent project management skills and the ability to motivate team members.

  • A great listener who is considerate, empathetic and emotionally intelligent.

  • Able to communicate effectively with in-house and external parties such as media.

  • Access to a strong network and the ability to build and maintain future relationships.

Marketing: Clear creative vision and expertise in digital and social media marketing

Sales: Record of achieving goals, increasing sales and widening the customer base

Editorial: Experience with building book lists, an understanding of the editorial process and attention to detail

Entry-Level Roles:

  • Organising, scheduling and recording meetings.

  • Motivated and eager to learn.

  • Strong interpersonal skills that facilitate both collaboration and independent work.

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and Canva.

Editorial: Proofreading skills and a good grasp of written and spoken English.

Marketing: Demonstrate analytical and problem-solving skills with the ability to deal with large amounts of data including price lists and ISBNs.

Sales: Emailing booksellers and buyers and responding to requests.

Sales: Assisting with presentations in bookshops, libraries and retailers.

Online Courses

Unfortunately, a lot of the courses in publishing have a cost to them, but there is no pressure or requirement to complete one. If you are in a position to, we recommend undertaking one of these courses to build your industry knowledge and figure out where your interests lie.

The Publishing Training Centre: There are virtual courses in editorial, management, sales, digital and marketing available, which are all essential elements of trade publishing. These are paid, but there are discounts available. Be sure to look at who the course is targeted at and what skills you will gain once you have completed the course.

Get Into Book Publishing: They offer brilliant paid short courses which require no pre-requisite knowledge or training, but you must be aged 18 or over. On the 4th of December there is a Book Production Masterclass and an Introduction to Editorial on the 5 February. Check out more events from this organiser here.

IPG Skills Hub: The Independent Publishers Guild runs short courses on Five Ways to Stand Out in Trade Publishing and Top Ten Tips for Maximising UK Trade Sales. These are great resources because the commercial awareness you will acquire could be helpful in applications and interviews with trade publishers.


Educational vs Trade Publishing: An informative article from Book Machine that explores both sides of publishing with industry professionals. It covers things that are considered the best and worst aspects of each job, which is useful if you are deciding which type of publisher and division you would ideally like to work for.

Publicity in Trade vs Academic Publishing: Another insightful article from Book Machine that considers the differences and similarities in publicity across trade and academic publishing. Give it a read if you are interested in publicity or public relations.

The Publishing Post: We figured it was about time we gave ourselves a shoutout, because we have lots of well-researched and highly informative articles that will help you understand more about trade publishing and how to succeed in the industry. For example, Upskilling for the Editorial Department, Job Opportunities and Upcoming Events.

Thanks for reading Issue Thirty-Five! Join us again for the penultimate instalment of our sector-focused mini-series, Upskilling Tips for Non-Fiction Publishing.


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