Upskilling Tips with The Bookseller
By Tanvi Jaiswal, Misha Manani and Georgia Stack
One tip that the Upskilling team has always focused on is staying on top of things happening within the publishing industry. To do that, one of the best resources available to you is The Bookseller. This business magazine is the go-to place for publishers, agents, retailers, libraries and mainstream media in the UK and Ireland. While unlimited access is subject to a subscription, you can still read two free articles per month. In this issue, we have an exclusive interview with Caroline Sanderson, an Associate Editor for The Bookseller, as well as some tips for you to get the best out of The Bookseller and stay updated with publishing-related news.
In Conversation with Caroline Sanderson
How did you become an Associate Editor for The Bookseller?
“It’s a kind of courtesy title which reflects my years of being a core freelance contributor to The Bookseller. I have been the magazine’s non-fiction previewer since 2000. I began my book trade career in the late 1980s as a bookseller for Waterstones, and then worked in book PR for seven years, including as Head of Publicity at Penguin before going freelance in 1997. I also interview authors for the magazine and chair the judging for the non-fiction categories for the annual British Book Awards.”
What does your role entail?
“Each month I compile a comprehensive preview of non-fiction books published in four months’ time. I read a huge amount in the quest to find the best books published each month and, for each preview, I choose which books to highlight either as “Ones to Watch or “Editor’s Choices” (my personal favourites). I also choose a ”Book of the Month.” It’s a real privilege to be among the first readers and advocates of great books in this way.
The skills required are:
An ability to read quickly but thoroughly.
The honed ability to communicate a book and its qualities in a hundred careful and well-chosen words or fewer.
Tight organisational skills and attention to detail.
A vocational drive to read a range of books to cover a diverse range of genres, authors and publishers, including indies.
A willingness to venture outside the natural reading habitat of the middle-class, middle-aged, white, straight, cisgender woman that I am.
The Bookseller is an informative resource in the publishing industry. Which sections would you recommend publishing hopefuls to engage with?
“Carefully studying every issue of The Bookseller from cover-to-cover is a must. But reading our book previews will provide an excellent overview of the range and depth of British publishing and of current trends.”
What advice do you have for publishing hopefuls?
“Haunt all kinds of bookshops – and libraries too. Even better, work in one, if only for a while. Any publishing career should be underpinned by a knowledge of readers and what they are borrowing and buying.
Be active on social media. But now that events are happening in person again, attend as many book events, festivals and conferences as you can afford. This business runs on contacts and conversations.
Have an open mind. While it’s important to be targeted when applying for jobs, it is difficult to nab your dream job straight away. Consider all parts of the industry: there is far more to making books than editing and promoting them.
Read widely: go outside of your comfort zone genres. And read The Bookseller (obvs).”
Top Tips from the Upskilling Team
Visit Jobs in Books. This allows you to find a job that works for you. You can filter the search by department, location and distance. Register to upload your CV, so you are ready to take that next step in publishing!
Keep an eye on the bestsellers charts. This will develop your commercial awareness and consumer-based research. We also recommend looking at the audio and e-book selection as important publishing formats. It is not enough to know what is selling well. Try to understand the reasons why.
Sign up for the free mailing list. Want the latest publishing industry news delivered straight to your inbox? You can tick your preferences when signing up; whether it is the morning briefing or the latest job opportunities on a weekly basis.
Have a look at the ”Spotlight” section. This part of the magazine covers the industry’s current affairs. Recently, the ‘Spotlight’ has covered the London Book Fair and the growing publishing industry emerging in the United Arab Emirates. This is key for keeping up-to-date with the rapidly changing publishing world.
Browse the ”Bookshop Heroes” section. You can also look at this section to find the best individual booksellers and you might find an independent bookshops that you could apply to for some bookselling experience!
Read the ”Events” section. This is a handy tool for keeping your calendar up-to-date with the latest events and award shows designed to celebrate and inform those in publishing. This section is great for finding events and conferences that you may not have found otherwise!
Thanks for reading issue forty-six! Join us again for issue forty-seven, where we will be covering upskilling tips for internships.