Careers Service Occupations

Publishing

Publishing

About

Many of the large publishing houses are based in London, however there is a growing trend for independent publishers to set up outside of the capital.

According to a report by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in 2016 there were 32,422 people employed in publishing. There has been a 7.6% increase in employment in the sector since 2011. 

Careers advice

Industry news

Professional bodies

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:

Making contacts

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:

Events

Open-days, talks and other sector events give valuable insights and the opportunity to make useful contacts.

Regular events for this sector include our annual Creative Careers with speakers from a range of careers in the creative sector. For more events, see Careers Service events and External events.

You may also be interested in Journalism & writing, Marketing and PR.

Or see our other Explore Occupations pages for more options.

Roles

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties and entry requirements.

Many other non-editorial/commissioning roles also exist within the publishing industry in areas such as marketingadvertising and sales.

Commissioning editor

Editorial assistant

Lexicographer

Literary agent

Picture researcher / art editor

Print production planner/administrator

Publishing copy editor/proofreader

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
  • teamworking 
  • 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
The publishing process at Random House

Gaining Experience

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.

Read a blog from a Newcastle University student who gained a week-long internship in a publishing house in Edinburgh. 

The following major UK book publishing houses offer opportunities for work experience or internships:

The above schemes are likely to be highly competitive so you should also consider applying to small, medium and independent publishing houses. 

The Carole Blake Open Doors Project, offers 10 days of funded work shadowing at Blake Friedmann, to students from backgrounds that are under-represented in publishing. 

Finding companies

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show you’re keen.

Finding experience in the North East:

Many of the large publishing houses are London based, however a growing number of smaller independent publishers are establishing a base in the North. 

The Northern Fiction Alliance is a group of eleven independent publishers in the North of England. 

You can also try the following business directories to search for publishers in the North East:

In the UK and worldwide:

Spare room project

The Spare room project matches 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.

Finding Jobs

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. 

Examples include:

  • charities
  • 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

Find jobs and additional vacancy source websites outside of the UK on GoinGlobal.

Finding companies