book with explosions of different role names
book with explosions of different role names

It's Work in Publishing Week, where we open up our (virtual) doors to show you exactly what we get up to behind-the-scenes at Penguin Random House.

You might link publishing with more traditional roles in editorial, marketing or maybe book design... but what about all the jobs you might have no idea exist in publishing? Here we share why publishing has a whole world of opportunities beyond what you might presume, including working on stage shows, recording podcasts and discovering artwork unseen for years.

Directing Stormzy onto stage at the Barbican...

Aisling Fahey, Creative Events Producer at Penguin Live

At Penguin Live we produce live in-person and online events with authors to support a book’s publication. I wasn’t aware of this role when trying to get into publishing, but am so glad that it exists! 

Day-to-day consists of identifying authors who’d suit an event, deciding what format would work best, and which chairperson would create the most interesting conversation for an audience. Once an event is confirmed, I’ll need to ensure all the logistics are in place, such as technical requirements and talent briefs. One of my favourite parts of the role is being at the events to ensure everything runs smoothly. Currently, this is my colleagues and me in front of our computer screens at home, but in normal circumstances, this requires us to travel across the UK to wonderful venues. Nothing beats the adrenaline just before the event begins, seeing the audiences ready to hear their favourite authors speak, creating those moments of connection.

Whether it be directing Stormzy onto stage for his sold-out launch event of #Merky Books at the Barbican, or meeting Jacqueline Wilson for the first time having read every one of her books as a child, having a part to play in these events makes me very grateful to get to work so closely with incredible books and inspiring authors.

This year, in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Penguin Live hosted a livestream series called ''At Home With Penguin' which saw 10 authors speak directly to audiences on Facebook, talking and answering questions.

Custodian of over 1 million books...

Tom Birkhead, Archive Assistant for the Penguin Random House Archive

At the Penguin Random House Archive we are the custodians of books, documents, artwork, and all the vital history of Penguin books. I catalogue and find books and related materials and information to help staff across the business as well as researchers and members of the public around the world.

What we provide helps the people that make book deals, for example information about rights and past deals. I once unearthed an old publishing contract and pitch to a well-known tech millionaire to be used as guidance for a new deal, which was rather interesting. But we also work with the editors and designers that put books together, and on occasion even the writers themselves.

Sometimes we help with people’s academic studies, sometimes to rediscover their forgotten childhood favourites, sometimes to find out their family history. A day might see remarkable paintings unseen for decades, historical mysteries that could be books themselves, or just helping Penguin in its ongoing mission. As a lover of books, history and culture at large, it’s pretty great.

Take a look inside our Penguin Random House archive in Rushden, with some highlights of what's hidden amongst 1.2 million books.

Heading up Peter Rabbit themed cafes in Japan...

Thomas Merrington, Creative Director for Penguin Ventures

Penguin Ventures is the Licensing & IP (intellectual property) division of Penguin Random House Children’s. We look after everything non-book for our owned brands such as the Peter Rabbit franchise and The World of The Snowman. I love my job as it’s truly unique and covers a huge range of creative areas.

My team and I are responsible for all creative output globally across our portfolio of brands, covering everything from consumer products, including Peter Rabbit baby clothing & soft toys, to big brand partnerships such as Peter Rabbit x Twining’s Tea in China and The Snowman x Barbour Christmas campaigns. I am also lucky enough to look after our live and experiential programs which range from “The Snowman” live on stage (the longest running seasonal show on the West End), to Peter Rabbit themed cafés in Japan, exhibitions using our archive of original artworks, themed afternoon teas and immersive experiences such as our Peter Rabbit Christmas grottos to name a few!

Take a look at the wide range of work Penguin Ventures are doing globally.

Finding new ways to get books to people who need them most...

Louisa Burden-Garabedian and Sharifah Grant, Creative Responsibility Executives

We work in Penguin’s Creative Responsibility team, which leads on our responsible business strategy and delivers the key programmes sitting underneath it. Publishing is a fascinating industry in which to be doing this role, as books are a naturally great product with a world of possibilities.

Louisa: My day-to-day really varies depending on the projects I’m working on at any given moment – this week most of my time has been spent chatting to the new writers joining our WriteNow editorial programme, and working on the logistics of our winter campaign with social enterprise Neighbourly to get books to people who wouldn’t have access to them otherwise.

Sharifah: Make way for the cliche – this truly is a role where no day is the same! I work on projects that focus on youth outreach, writer development and colleague volunteering. This could range from organising 600 colleagues to volunteer on World Book Day to assisting #Merky Books to deliver their annual New Writers' Prize for unrepresented writers.

See our impact through Creative Responsibility in our interactive report below.

Producing a one-of-a-kind show at the London Palladium...

Will Smith, Head of Brand for Penguin

Once a year, I work with a small team on Penguin Presents – a show that celebrates what makes us unique. This annual event is a showcase for some of our most exciting authors, their forthcoming titles and the transformative power of reading. Almost two thousand colleagues, alongside champions of literacy, industry partners and select media, enjoy a money-can’t-buy experience full of invention and surprise.

We begin by setting our objectives, sourcing the venue and specialist assistance, and shortlisting dream guests by consulting publishing schedules. This process begins many months ahead of the day itself and the running order evolves throughout. As curtain-up draws near, we shape the overarching narrative, create and commission multimedia content and brief all those appearing, in exacting detail. All manner of factors can affect how things go, from runaway props to chaotic snowstorms, but once our authors take the stage a hush descends and we’re all reminded why we make books in the first place.

Read more about Penguin Presents 2019 by clicking on one of the images below.

Filming YouTube videos with our biggest authors...

John Trevaskis, Assistant Video Producer, Penguin Creative

I create video content with our authors for the Penguin YouTube channel. My day-to-day spans all aspects of the creative process; from brainstorming ideas with our team and writing pitches; to directing shoots, operating cameras, and interviewing talent; to finally editing the videos and sharing them with the world.

We’ve seen tremendous growth on YouTube this year, increasing our subscribers by 180% and reaching an average of 1 million monthly views, driven by a fresh content strategy that’s seen our Big Questions series hit 3.75 million views.

I love working in publishing because of the remit to create a such a wide variety of content that makes a real connection with viewers. It’s exciting to have a creative role that is so varied – and from interviewing Big Narstie, producing a lockdown-livestream with Bernardine Evaristo, or even recording a podcast with Paul McCartney, it never gets old!

Watch a video with big Narstie from the Big Questions series John has co-produced.

Forecasting how well books will sell...

Adam Keogh and Nate Francis, Data Scientists

As Data Scientists at Penguin Random House our role is to help the business make better data driven decisions. We were both completely new to publishing when we joined and excited at the possibilities of working in data analytics for a book publisher. We are given a lot of autonomy in trying to find solutions to business problems and there is a broad set of challenges which adds a lot of variety to our day-to-day. Some of our work includes: building e-book pricing systems using machine learning, analysing search terms used on Amazon, and forecasting the sales of our titles. 

Read about the books we're most excited about in 2021.

Setting up a partnership with Gucci...

Sarah Porter, Key Account Manager and Jess Saco, Sales Manager in Non Trade Sales

IIn our part of the Sales team we make sure our books find a home anywhere that isn’t a traditional bookshop – this could be on the ASOS website, in-store in the ‘Middle of Lidl’ aisle, at author events or via special editions and brand partnerships.

Sarah: Part of my role encompasses managing brand partnerships. This involves pitching our content to other brands - the projects can be anything from printing copies of physical books with a company’s logo on the front, to working with media agencies on customer reward schemes using e-books and audiobooks. A typical day can involve creating pitches, working on our strategy or customer meetings (with anyone from food chains like Hawksmoor and Greggs to partnerships with Gucci, Sky VIP and People Postcodes Lottery.)

Jess: I love our area of the business because, as well as selling in brand new publications to retailers like Oliver Bonas and The Works, I get to delve into Penguin Random House’s amazing catalogue of previously published titles and give new life to forgotten gems. This could mean creating a brand new cover, changing the format and size of a book, or producing a beautiful slipcase – the sky really is the limit! That also goes for retailers – for example, we recently noticed lots of our titles would sit perfectly within Primark ranges, so after several pitches and meetings we are now working to deliver their first gift book range.

Sarah: One of the things I love about my role is that no two days are ever the same, and there’s a huge amount of creativity involved.

Jess: This role is great for a people person as I work with almost every department across the business; from Production to Editorial; Design to Royalties & Contracts; Sales Operations and IM to Customer Services, I get to know lots of faces across the whole company.

When people think about a job in publishing, they might not immediately consider Non Trade Sales, but there’s something really special about making sure readers can find our books, even in unexpected places.

Take a look through some previous innovative brand partnerships.

Surprised? Inspired? See what jobs are live on our careers website now, and look out for more content on the Penguin Random House LinkedIn page during Work in Publishing Week.

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