What’s it like to work in publishing? (Part 2)

Curious about publishing, but want to find out what it’s really like? Who better to share with you what it's like to work in the industry than some of the brilliant people who have started their careers here. 


We’re shining a spotlight on some of the very different roles and career opportunities available in publishing, speaking to some of our colleagues working in those areas to get to the heart of what their job involves and why they love it so much.

In Part Two of our two-part blog, we catch up with some of our colleagues working in the areas of Publicity, Editorial, Sales and Distribution to understand more about their roles - from the most surprising aspect of their role, to their tips for others wanting to build a career. 

For tips and insights into Marketing, Design, Technology and Production, read the story linked just below.

Work in publishing blog


What's it like to work in publishing? (Part 1)



We also spoke to Sriya, a Press Officer at Michael Joseph, about what it's like to work in Publicity at Penguin Random House.

Sriya, who works in Publicity

What is the one thing that would surprise people about your job?

It’s not all parties! Publicity means shouting about our books in all kinds of creative ways, whether that’s by working with our authors to come up with fascinating feature ideas for newspapers, accompanying our authors to events, getting them on television to talk about why their book matters, or organising an attention-grabbing stunt. Though we do love to party, we get the most satisfaction out of giving our brilliant books the best chance to find their audience.

What skills do you need to work in Publicity?

You need to be flexible and organised, and to have a cool head. Publicity is as much about solving unexpected problems as it is about planning an intricate campaign. Most importantly, you need a sense of creativity and humour!

Authors on screen

Top tips for applying for a job in Publicity from our Resourcing team

Publicity is a great department to get into if you’re great at engaging people, and your enthusiasm is infectious.

We’ll be looking out for evidence that you’re good at being able to convince people. Perhaps you’ve managed to negotiate free products for an assignment, or successfully promoted something you’re passionate about with a social media campaign.

You’d be keeping track of reservations, arrangements, expenses and the smaller details to help projects run smoothly, so we’ll also be looking for some demonstration that you’re organised. Perhaps you’ve been a social secretary for a group, or enjoy arranging events.

If you’ve been part of a project that involved writing, for example for a student publication, tell us in your application. This is an excellent skill set to highlight for writing press releases.



Tehreem is an Editorial Assistant at Ladybird, in our Children's team

Tehreem, Editorial Assistant at Ladybird


What is the one thing that would surprise people about your job?

It really is as fun as it seems!

At a junior position like mine, you would assume there is just a lot of admin that needs doing – which is true to a certain extent – but there is constantly an abundance of opportunities for me to get stuck into.

From the offset, my wonderful team have encouraged me to get involved in projects that interest me and are always looking to hear from me with any ideas I may have.

They always empower me, nurture my growth and treat my ideas with value and respect – as they would with anyone else in the team!

What skills do you need to work in Editorial?

Proofreading and copy-editing will probably be the two main skills people associate with a role in Editorial and whilst these are both key to an extent, there is so much more involved.

It will come as no surprise that clear and strong communication skills are essential. Working in Editorial will mean that you’ll be speaking to several people – both internal and external to the company – so the ability to communicate clearly is vital. You will need a good eye for detail, confidence to share your creative input and exceptional organisational skills to juggle the many tasks you’ll be handling at any given time.

The best thing about the skills you need and those you gain from working in an Editorial team is that they highly transferrable and can always be applied, wherever you are in your career.

It’s also very important to remember that the skills you have aren’t set in stone – you are constantly learning, refining and growing them. It’s not only about the skills you bring but also those you learn along the way!

Spot the Dog toy

Top tips for applying for a job in Editorial from our Resourcing team

Firstly, a love of books is definitely something we’ll be looking for. Are you up to date with the latest titles? It’s helpful in your application to let us know what type of books you’d particularly enjoy working on – whatever they are. If you have an up to date book review blog, or social media platform – share the link so we can get to know more about your passion for books.

For your application to stand out, be sure to read the job description and get an idea of the type of books the division you’re applying to publishes, and let us know your knowledge of the trends going on in that area.

Collaborating with others is also part of the job, and any experience with customer service, or completing projects with others would be a real bonus. Organisation is also an essential skill. Perhaps you’ve worked as an assistant, or helped to coordinate a project, making sure that everyone was in the right place, at the right time, with all the right resources.



Maddy is a Sales Operations Coordinator in our Sales team

Maddy, from our Sales team

What is the one thing that would surprise people about your job?

I think the amount of behind-the-scenes work in Sales would surprise people, as well as how early in a book’s conception the Sales Team and Sales Operations get involved (clue: very early!).

What skills do you need to work in Sales?

People skills and, increasingly, decent computer skills. You need to convince customers to choose to use their platforms and space for the books you represent instead of other publishers’, and you also need to be able to talk to and work with all the teams that are involved in getting books from a manuscript to a bookshop. This involves working across many different programs and systems, keeping on top of things through reporting and/or just pestering the right people by email.

Some of our books in a bookshop

Top tips for applying for a job in Sales from our Resourcing team:

Have you ever done any campaigning or fundraising that demonstrates your abilities as a salesperson? For our Sales roles, we’re looking for an engaging cover letter where you’ve flexed your selling skills.

If you have any retail experience, that’s also something that would stand out to us. In the role, you’d need to chat to our customers and deliver great service to strengthen and maintain relationships, so if you have transferrable skills in this area, be sure to let us know.

You’d also work with people in a variety of other teams, so if you’re good at adapting your communication style, for example working with a variety of people from different backgrounds, make sure you show that off in your application.

If you’re looking to get into sales, the ability to learn and use new systems is something you could highlight, as well as an eye for detail. We use specialised publishing systems, which feed information into our sales platforms, so the data has to be accurate. You could demonstrate this in your application with a course you’ve attended, or fantastic Excel skills. Perhaps you’ve had to learn something new to pull off a project or use a specific database.



Lisa is a Warehouse Operative at our distribution site in Frating

Lisa from our warehouse distribution team

What is the one thing that would surprise people about your job?

Lots of women are now being trained as forklift drivers, and I love my job! We have a warm warehouse and a great restaurant on site. We get to do a lot for charity – like going into schools to read to children to get them interested in books.

We’ve even had some of our incredible authors come and visit the warehouse and do book signings.

What skills do you need to work in Distribution?

It goes without saying that you need a great work ethic, and a helpful, friendly positive attitude. You should be open to be trained in new areas.

There’s a lot of teamwork so good communication, patience with newly trained staff and a willingness to help others are good skills for distribution.

As a forklift truck driver, you also need to be comfortable with physical exertion in your day-to-day job.

Our warehouse

Top tips for applying for a job in Distribution from our Resourcing team:

Our warehouses are busy; we ship over 180 million titles every year, and if you’ve ever delivered a project to meet targets, highlight this in your application to help it stand out.

If you’d like to get into Distribution, we’ll be looking for examples showing that you’re logical. You could tell us about a time you’ve worked through a problem or obstacle successfully in your cover letter to display these skills.

In Distribution, you’d be working with a large team, and see lots of new faces every day. If you’re great at working with others, and communicating with all sorts of people, at various levels, be sure to let us know.

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