Getting a job Publishing: Everything Explained!

9 September 2020


Centre of my office - and a sneaky shot of one of the editors, Harriet! 


Hello Readers & Friends,

I realised I never talk about work on here, and it's about time I did a big post sharing everything because I imagine with so many bookish followers, many of you would be interested in working in publishing!


Where I work / Where should you work?

I'm very lucky to have a job at Hodder & Stoughton, who are owned by Hachette Publishing and you may know as the official Stephen King publishing house! I love working for Hodder because the range of books they publish is so broad, I get to experience everything from romcoms and thrillers through to celebrity autobiographies and fascinating non-fiction. I'm not sure I'd enjoy working for a more niche publisher who only did one genre as much, this way I get to experience all of it! So I think the first thing is thinking about what type of publishing house you'd like to work at. The bigger the house (i.e Penguin), the more specific and specialised your job role will likely be, whereas at smaller ones (local independent presses) you probably get to be involved in much wider conversations more often.


What my job is / what job do you want? 

I work as Digital Marketing Manager. My day-to-day involves managing the social media, customer newsletters and digital advertising for all Hodder & Stoughton, but I also get allocated a good amount of books to take care of each year. At Hodder, each marketing person is allocated books to own, and then we get to create and manage the campaigns for each of them. Every book has a different budget and, of course, themes, which means you can be really creative and are always working on something different. Whether it's reaching out to collaborate with brands or organising an author talk, or buying random goodies to send out with proof copies, there's always something fun and creative going on. Due to my job title, most of my books are digitally led campaigns, which means getting to organise fun online campaigns and getting really interactive with readers. 

If marketing isn't something you're interested in, there are tons of other things to think about. Working with audiobooks only, being an editor which involves working on all the manuscripts and being the authors main go-to and ensuring they're always happy. PR work hard to get books mentioned in the press and organising evens and TV/Radio appearances - they're the most sociable of all of us! And of course there are tons of other departments such as Sales who work with the stores and less creative roles such as Finance, HR etc which follow more traditional workplace roles but surrounded by books.



What was my path? Do you need a degree in X?

No! I have a BA in Politics and Journalism and a Masters in Political Marketing - I didn't even do English for A Levels! Then I worked in the fashion industry for seven years in several different marketing roles. What's important is proving your passion for the publishing industry. I obviously have my blog, but I also have my book instagram, youtube and tik tok accounts and am an active member in the bookstagram community. All of these things illustrated my passion and interest, and showed that despite never working in publishing before, that with my transferable skills and personal interests,  I could easily shift from selling clothes to selling books! The hard bit is standing out in a CV, particularly when you're competing against people who are already in the industry and would take less time to train up on industry-specific platforms. This is where I advise being as creative as possible, and to be sure to mention any bookish things you do in your cover letter. 

For my CV, I actually created one to replicate a book cover. The title was REMEMBER THIS NAME, below was my name as the 'author', and I had designed little 'reader reviews' to read 'Hire her - she's great' - Ex Boss, which made my hirer laugh. Then it opened to look like a book with my actual professional CV and cover letter inside, printed on paper to look bookish. Things like this and going the extra mile to show your creativity and passion will help at least get you through to an interview, and then it's all down to you!


What was the interview process like? 

I imagine this will be different depending on the role you apply for and the company. I think my interview process was pretty standard. I applied via an online portal, answering various questions about myself and uploading my CV. 

HR would have sifted through these and chosen candidates worthy of a first stage interview, and I was luckily chosen. For this I think I met with my direct line manager, and a rep from HR. I dressed semi-formally, and wore a blazer and neutral colours. The HR manager asked all the HR-y questions (you know the type - what are your strengths, tell us about a time you worked well under pressure etc) and my direct line manager asked more general questions about my skillset and what I'd been doing in previous roles.

I was then called and invited to a second stage interview, which I had to prepare a project for to present. I was given a book title, summary, release date and budget and had to create a marketing campaign for it. My presentation was about 30 slides long (!) because I wanted to show my range of skills and how many different platforms I could work across. I also did my best to estimate on things that I had no experience of, such as Amazon advertising, to show that I was open to learning and proactive but also made clear in the actual interview that I had no experience of it (I didn't want them to think I can do something I can't!). My second interview was with my direct line manager again, and the deputy CEO. I presented my project, they asked some questions about it and then the second half was largely getting to know me and asking me about what I liked to read etc. I think this is to get a sense of whether I was nice and a good fit for the team. 

I was called the next week and offered the job, so it was a super quick turnaround compared to other jobs I've applied for. 

Reception of our office building


What's the best parts of the job?

So many things! I love how creative I get to be - in the fashion industry everything was very traditional and they didn't like changing things up too much, whereas working on so many different books/campaigns means you're never doing the same thing and in my experience, my boss is really open to trying and testing exciting new avenues. Obviously getting to chat to incredible and talented authors is super inspiring, and I love brainstorming marketing things with them. I love the accomplished feeling when a book climbs the bestseller charts! And, of course, getting to read manuscripts early! Is there anything better than getting something in from your favourite author and being one of the first eyes on it?!

Oh, and the free books. Naturally. 


What about the worst parts?

It can feel overwhelming sometimes when you're getting pressure from editors and authors but are short on time/budget etc. Or when things go wrong! But I don't think it's any different from any other job, there are always times when things get stressful or mistakes happen. 


What's the cultural vibe like? 

I can't speak for publishing as a whole, and I'm sure all publishing houses are different, but I can speak on my experience at Hodder in comparison to the fashion industry in particular! I actually feel very safe and happy with the office culture. I have really bad anxiety and new jobs is something which I struggle with after a really terrible work experience that left me with mild PTSD for a year, so I was super scared to delve into a whole new industry. The office is very big and beautiful, and it's pretty casual as far as dress goes. I've noticed that while there's no dress code, people like to dress smarter than my previous jobs where tracksuits and streetwear was the norm! But jeans and trainers aren't frowned upon, which is great for someone like me because I do think style is important for personal identity. 

The people are so, so, welcoming and friendly. Everyone is always offering to help out and teamwork is something that's really important. It's a very liberal place to be with everybody's opinions being respected, and everyone stands up for what they believe in. There are lots of wonderful committees to join such as LGBTQ ones and the BAME one which I myself have joined. Compared to Fashion, it feels like everyone matters and they really care about the staff, and as though everyone can voice a concern and be legitimately listened to by the powers above. There seems to be very little turnover compared to fashion, which is a testament to how happy the staff are. 


Do I have to be in London?

Generally, the same with Fashion, yes. Nearly all the big publishers are based in London unfortunately, and while there are smaller indie publishers in other cities, they are extremely competitive. HOWEVER, thanks to Corona I think many companies are being much more open to remote working and/or opening regional offices, so perhaps in a year or so the landscape will look totally different and more people will have the opportunity to work in publishing without being in the expensive capital. 


I hope this helps and some of you find it useful!

Love,

C x

3 comments

  1. this is honestly so helpful because i really want to have a job just like that in a publishing company. i have a question though, do you think not going to university would affect apply for the job at all?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm.. it's a tricky one because I think recently the value of a degree is lessening and especially it will be interesting to see how Covid affects number of people choosing to go to university. But in general, I think unfortunately most entry-level job ads for Publishing do require a 2:1 degree in some field. I advice searching for entry level jobs and checking out the required fields and making an assessment off the back of that! Good luck xx

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  2. A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one. I need job fast

    ReplyDelete

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