The landscape of publishing is changing, particularly with the growth in digitalisation of print. There is therefore a growing need for digital expertise amongst applicants.
There are approximately 27,000 people are employed in the publishing industry across a wide range of roles such as editing, design, production, marketing & sales.
Over the last few years, there has been an increase in roles and opportunities in archiving in response to digitalisation, which is representative across the sector.
- Prospects: Media and internet - includes How to get into book publishing
- TARGETjobs: Media, journalism and publishing - includes advice and tips on getting into publishing
- Guardian Careers: Publishing
These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates.
They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.
The main professional associations for this sector include:
- Publishers Association (PA)
- Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)
- The Society of Young Publishers (SYP)
- Women in Publishing
Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field are gained through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:
- The Society for Editors and Proofreaders have a mentoring programme open to their members.
- Graduate Connections – online database of graduates who are happy to give you information and advice about the kind of work they do.
- Social media resources, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, which can be useful for making contacts, following employers and finding opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our Publishing sector Twitter list.
- Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn – connect with Newcastle University alumni on LinkedIn. Find out what they did after graduation and how they got there, and contact them for advice and inspiration.
Open-days, talks and other sector events give valuable insights and the opportunity to make useful contacts.
- Society of Young Publishers – organise regional networking events.
- Society for Editors and Proofreaders – organise regional and national networking events.
Or see our other occupational pages for more options.
The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties and entry requirements.
Picture researcher / art editor
Print production planner/administrator
Publishing copy editor/proofreader
- National Careers Service – copy editor
- National Careers Service - proofreader
- Society for Editors and Proofreaders – information on careers in copy-editing and proofreading
- LibroEditing: Proofreading as a career – some pointers
Publishing rights manager
Skills employers look for
The skills required to work in publishing can vary, depending on the role. There are a number of key skills that are common across most roles:
- excellent oral and written communication skills
- the ability to manage multiple projects and meet tight deadlines
- attention to detail; administrative and organisational skills
- IT skills and an awareness of how technology is impacting on the sector
- commercial awareness and negotiation skills
Work experience is a great way to get exposure to the publishing industry and make contacts. It is also a key route to securing an entry-level role.
Publishing work experience is often voluntary and competition for places may be fierce.
The Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies lists work experience opportunities in publishing. Diary of a publishing intern posts regular details of internships
The following major UK book publishing houses offer opportunities for work experience or internships:
- Hachette UK
- Harper Collins
- Random House Group
- Pan Macmillan
- Penguin Random House UK - work experience and internship opportunities in various areas including editorial, sales and publicity
The above schemes are likely to be highly competitive so you should also consider applying to small, medium and independent publishing houses.
Spare room project
The Publishers Association runs the Spare room project. Matching up aspiring publishers from outside of London completing work experience, with those working in publishing in the capital who can provide them with accommodation.
Other ways to gain experience
If you're struggling to find work experience, you could try alternative routes, such as:
- writing for, or editing The Courier or other student publications, such as REACT or School specific blogs
- proofreading for small businesses or other students
- voluntary work for charities focusing on their publications, website or social media
- working in a book shop or library
Proofreading and editing
The Society for Editors and Proofreaders has a directory of editors, proofreaders, and editorial project managers who you could contact for advice on gaining experience and entering this career.
Roles in publishing are usually open to graduates of all degree disciplines.
Publishers who specialise in particular areas, eg science, engineering, may, however, require graduates with a relevant degree. A relevant postgraduate qualification may be helpful for some roles.
As well as traditional book and magazine publishers, other types of organisations may also publish significant amounts of material and employ in-house staff.
- government departments
- large companies (corporate communications)
- academic and educational institutions
- STM (scientific/technical/medical)
Specialist recruitment agencies
Many major publishing houses may advertise their vacancies through specialist recruitment agencies. Bookcareers.com has a list of employment agencies specialising in book publishing vacancies.
For more information on selecting and using an agency to help you find work, see Recruitment Agencies.
Advertised vacancy sources
- theBookseller.com Jobs
- bookcareers.com offer a CV Clearing House for those with relevant industry experience or qualifications
- Guardian Jobs: Publishing Jobs
- Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies - runs a listing of job vacancies in publishing
- IPG Jobs
- Diary of a publishing intern posts regular details of entry/graduate level jobs
- Publishers Global - international directory
- AOP Member List - online publishers
- PPA Publisher Members Directory
- Publishing Scotland Members List - directory of Scottish publishers and related organisations
- Welsh Book Trade Info - information and contact details for the Welsh publishing sector
- Media UK - A - Z magazine directory and press and publishing vacancies
- Writers' and Artists' Yearbook - comprehensive media directory where free registration is required