Careers Information: Getting into Publishing

Posted on July 27, 2008 in News & Reviews

This page gives basic information about publishing courses and training, how to get started in publishing, where to look for jobs, which books to read and where to look for help to get your work published.

How to get started

Want to get into publishing?

First of all, find out a bit more about it. Check out the information available in the careers section of your local library or careers office, dip into one of the books recommended below and talk to people in the industry – us!

Come to one of our speaker meetings and take the opportunity to meet like-minded people and network in an informal atmosphere.

This is only a brief guide, but hopefully it will be comprehensive enough to lead you towards all the sources of information, jobs, courses and training that you will need to start your career in publishing. It is a hugely rewarding industry to work in, but here’s one word of warning: when you’re starting out, be prepared to work long hours for low pay.

Recommended reading:

  • Baverstock A., Bowen S., & Carey S., How to Get a Job in Publishing (A & C Black)
  • Clark G. N., Inside Book Publishing (Routledge)
  • Lines J., Careers in Publishing and Bookselling (Kogan Page, O/P)
  • The Writer’s Handbook (Macmillan)
  • The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook (A&C Black)

Types of book publishers

Broadly speaking, these are:

  • general or trade (fiction and non-fiction, including illustrated and children’s)
  • publishers and packagers;
  • academic;
  • educational, including English Language Teaching (ELT)
  • STM (scientific/technical/medical), professional (e.g. law) and journals publishers.

Particularly in the area of academic, educational, STM and journal publishing, CD or online delivery is a fast-growing area. There is also a wide range of business, magazine and Internet publishers.

Types of jobs

A degree is likely to be a prerequisite for most jobs, as is some level of computer literacy. Subject knowledge at degree level can be useful (e.g. for professional and specialist subject publishing), as well as teaching experience (e.g. for educational or ELT). The best ways to get into the industry are work experience or temping, although there are a number of well-established publishing courses at graduate and postgraduate level that are likely to enhance your prospects significantly. The following ‘must-haves’ are only suggestions – each job is different.

  • Editorial – excellent grasp of English; attention to detail
  • Production – good negotiating skills; organised approach
  • Marketing – outgoing personality; organised approach
  • Sales – outgoing personality; negotiating skills
  • Rights – outgoing personality; negotiating skills; languages useful for foreign rights, but not always essential

Postgraduate publishing courses

Here is a list of UK postgraduate Publishing degrees.  If you look at all the courses, and are still unsure which one to go for, then we have an extract online from How to Get a Job in Publishing (A & C Black, 2008) to assist you in making an objective choice.

City University (London)
Kingston University (London)
London College of Communication
UCL (London)
Napier University (Edinburgh)
Oxford Brookes University
University of Plymouth
Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen)
Universtiy of Stirling

Where to look for jobs

The Guardian (Mon/Sat) l
The Bookseller (Fridays) |
European Bookseller (monthly) 

All levels
Covent Garden Bureau
Tel: 020 7495 8822
Judy Fisher Associates
Tel: 020 7437 2277
Career Moves Publishing Recruitment
Tel: 020 7292 2900
Inspired Selection (Oxford)
Tel: 01865 292 030 |
Inspired Selection (London)
Tel: 020 7953 4060 |
KP Publishing Personnel
Tel: 020 7439 8071
PFJ Recruitment – Tel: 020 7612 3800

Second jobs and up
Tel: 020 7734 4940 |
Judy Farquharson
Tel: 020 7493 8824 |
Intelligent Resources
Tel: 020 7375 0085 |
Meridian Search and Selection
Tel: 020 7795 6633 |

Other places to look for jobs

www.bookcareers.comthe CV Clearing House
Job Search with Jobrapido
SYP Job Database


The Publishing Training Centre and the Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), among others, run short courses in all areas of publishing.
A comprehensive guide to training courses appears in The Bookseller, usually in November.

Useful contacts
Publishers addresses are listed in The Writer’s Handbook (which also gives information about book and magazine publishing, newspapers, poetry, radio, theatre, TV, video and film, as well as agents, prizes, writer’s circles, associations, festivals etc.) and The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. There are several well-established societies catering to particular groups within publishing, from children’s publishing to production.
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Tel: 020 7227 3500 l
Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders
Tel: 020 7403 5141 l
The Publishing Training Centre
Tel: 020 8874 2718 l
The Society of Authors
Tel: 020 7373 6642 l 

Getting work published

The SYP cannot give advice on how to get your work published, nor can we assess any work you send in. However, we recommend you consult the following publications. The Society of Authors may also be able to offer advice.

Recommended reading: