How to Get a Job in Publishing

In this article Laura Berlinsky-Schine provides insight into how to land a job in the publishing industry.

When you think “book publishing,” the first thing that probably comes to mind is editing. While editorial is certainly an important component of the publishing industry, the field is host to an array of positions and roles, from marketing to art design.

I worked in publishing for more than seven years, most recently as an academic marketing manager at Penguin Random House, and I can tell you that the book industry brings both exciting and challenging experiences. Plus, you get plenty of free books.

My path into publishing was a bit unusual. After interning at a small education professional development publisher, I sent cold letters to hundreds of small presses looking for a position as a marketing assistant. One day, the VP of business at a library and information science professional publisher emailed me back telling me that my timing was good because their marketing assistant had quit that morning. I worked in that role for a year and a half before moving onto a marketing role at one of Penguin’s imprints and then moving internally to the academic marketing department.

Are you looking to break into the publishing industry? Read on to find out about different book jobs and how to get started.

How to Get Started in Publishing
Getting your foot in the door can be a challenging step. As with many industries, finding your first opportunity requires a combination of effort, research, and networking. There’s no particular major or degree necessary for getting a job in publishing; people come from a variety of educational backgrounds.

Here are some common paths to landing your first publishing job.

Publishing Programs
Publishing programs, which usually run for several weeks in the summer, can allow future publishing professionals to learn about different aspects of the industry, hear from top leaders in the field, and network with industry members. Some programs cover just book publishing, while others teach attendees about magazine and digital publishing as well. Well-known publishing programs include:

• New York University Summer Publishing Institute

• The Columbia Publishing Course

• Denver Publishing Institute

• Yale Publishing Course

All of the Big 5 publishing houses and many smaller publishers offer internships. As with any internship, once you land the role, make the most of it. Get to know your colleagues, go above and beyond what’s asked of you, and make an effort to learn about different aspects of the business. Even if your internship doesn’t lead to a full-time publishing job—which it certainly could—the connections you make and experience you gain will help you secure a role elsewhere.

Networking is a must for any industry. While it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if you don’t know people in the field, often, just getting outside of your comfort zone is the first step. I can’t tell you how many aspiring publishing professionals have reached out to me via LinkedIn asking for advice on how to get into the field.

If your school has an alumni directory, try reaching out to publishing professionals through that means. That way, you already have a connection. You can also contact people on LinkedIn and attend industry events. The Young to Publishing Group, run by the Association of American Publishers, is open to junior members of the field, but you can browse the website and email committee members to find out about events and news.

A word of caution: there is a such thing as being overly aggressive. People in publishing are often very busy, and if you persistently reach out after they’ve made it clear they don’t have the time, ask for recommendations from people who aren’t familiar with your work, or, even worse, ask for a job right out will only annoy them. Your best approach is to make it clear that you want to learn about the industry, not that you’re expecting them to find you a job. While that may be your ultimate goal, a professional with whom you network is more likely to remember and recommend you in the future if you were polite and engaged than if you came off as aggressive and presumptuous.

It’s a bit of a catch-22, but the more experience you have, the more likely you are to find a new role. If your goal is to work at on the Big 5 publishers, gaining experience at a smaller publisher can help you move onto a larger one. That’s what I did. Do keep in mind that you may have to start at a more junior level at a larger house even if you have experience, though.

Read the rest of the original article here to learn more about jobs in the Publishing industry, Types of Publishing Houses and Major Publishers, Job Boards for Publishing, and tips on Landing a Job in Publishing >>

By Maeghan Myers
Maeghan Myers Graduate Student Assistant