SYP: How To Get Into & Ahead In Publishing

Yesterday, I took the afternoon off and headed to the London Book Fair, the UK’s biggest publishing event where rights are acquired, book deals signed and much wine drunk. I was there to assist with and live-tweet during the SYP How To Get Into Publishing and How To Get Ahead In Publishing panel events along with Inspired Selection.

So, how do you get into publishing?
The main tips included:

  1. Be authentic, be real and be YOU
    As cheesy as this sounds, employers want to know you in both the application and interview stages so that they can assess whether you’re the right fit for the team, so don’t try to be somebody else – just be you.
  2. Stop trying to be perfect in interviews
    Relax and take it easy. Give yourself a minute to get things right but don’t freak out if you get things wrong, everybody makes mistakes.
  3. Keep your CV concise and relevant
    Make sure that when an employer looks over your CV, they can pull out your key skills and, if applicable, what level of skill you have. Put your most relevant jobs and skills at the top. e.g. Don’t just say ‘Working knowledge of the Adobe Suite’, but ‘intermediate level/2 years experience with Adobe PhotoShop’
  4. Internships aren’t the only way to get relevant skills
    Sure, if you can take an internship in London, go for it. But if you can’t, look at the wider publishing industry, including professional publishers, charities, other media companies for similar roles. Many companies have smaller publishing arms you could become part of to gain relevant skills.
  5. The publishing industry is more inclusive than its ever been
    Publishing is currently far more open than ever before, so don’t be afraid of sharing your knowledge from another industry and suggest its applications to the company you’re applying for. The same goes for different areas and countries within publishing itself; knowledge is power, so share away.

And how do you get ahead?
The main tips included:

  1. Know where you want to be, but enjoy where you are
    Have a clear goal of where you would like to end up in ten years time within your career, but don’t let that take over your current job enjoyment. Learn and enjoy everything you can in your current role so that when you take the next step, you’re completely ready.
  2. Learn to say yes and take opportunities
    Say yes to opportunities when you have the time, especially in junior roles, even if they are not directly linked to your career path; there is nothing wrong with learning about another part of your company or the industry more generally and you will almost always benefit.
  3. Learn to say no and maintain a work/life balance
    Know your work load and know your limits. Ask yourself if you personally must take on this responsibility and if you will benefit from it in order to prioritise which opportunities you accept. This will help in maintaining a work/life balance, so that you can practice hobbies, socialise with friends and families and have precious ‘you time’.
  4. Keep up-to-date with the industry and technology
    So you have a job in publishing – amazing. Now you can relax and just focus on your specific role at this specific company, right? Well, maybe for a few weeks while you’re being trained, but after that there is no excuse for not keeping up-to-date with the goings on in the industry. Check the Bookseller, follow other imprints and publishers and know what books are doing well.
  5. Don’t rely on your manager to help you to progress
    You are in charge of your own destiny. While your manager is probably lovely, it isn’t on their radar or in their personal interest to help you to progress, so you need to take initiative; have those awkward conversations about pay and promotions, as long as you can back yourself in why you deserve it.
  6. Grow and utilise your network
    Keep meeting people and make use of the contacts you make now and in the future. You don’t have to meet them regularly, just follow their Twitter feeds and engage with them. Don’t speak badly about a publisher/individual in the industry publicly as this is a small industry and you don’t want that to follow you around. *My own note on this: be a good contact yourself and you will reap the rewards. If you’ve told somebody you’ll let them know if jobs come up, make good on that promise and they will be way more likely to help you in return.

Phew, so that’s a lot of information summarised into a post under 800 words! To find out more, check out the SYP London Twitter feed from yesterday to read absolutely everything I managed to tweet during those sessions.

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