Guest post: Top Tips for your Publishing Career

Posted on March 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

The SYP has been very busy with career related activities this week. Below our London Chair Helen Youngs talks about everything she has learned from our experts:


This week has been an intense mix of mentor sessions with CV workshops and a recruiter networking evening. Just to give you the lowdown, as Chair of The Society of Young Publishers this year, I’ve helped set up a group mentor scheme where successful publishing professionals mentor a group of 5-8 young publishers. These young publishers are early on in their career and either want to move up to the next stage or take a sideways move. We’ve started with seven mentor groups in editorial(x2), sales, marketing and publicity, digital, design and author representation.

This week I attended the marketing & publicity, sales and digital sessions. These are the mentors that I managed to persuade to be part of the scheme and they are also the three areas of the business that I’m most interested in. I want to share some nuggets of knowledge that I’ve found most informative. I won’t share anything personal as we have established groups where honesty and trust are vital but I think it would be sinful not to share some of this juicy advice.

Marketing & Publicity

– Marketing and publicity cross paths and a lot of people work across both departments especially in smaller houses
– The people that succeed this this department tend to be the creative and off-the-wall thinkers
– Marketing is about money, budgets, analytics, sales — these are challenges where you need to justify commercial effectiveness
– Be close to sales: make sure you stand in a bookshop once in a while as sales should have a central role
– Crossover and move around to acquire new skills and become responsible for different things
– Prioritise: spend the majority of your time on the visible accounts that make the most money


– You can move up fast and there’s a structured career path in most houses: assistant, exec, account manager
– Sales is really fun and no day is ever the same — you get to talk about books all day!
– If you can talk up a book in 45 seconds you’d make a good sales bod
– Sales have influence on what books the publisher buys
– It’s all about the money: profit, margin, budget, negotiating
– Publishers pay shops to put their books in prime locations — sales need to ensure they make all the stops to deliver books to the number 1 spot



You do not have to have a straight forward career path
– Publishers are looking for skills outside of publishing and if you can’t move up, move out to acquire new skills
– Look outside the industry to keep track of innovations
– Q2 Planning: look it up!
– Talk and arrange meetings with colleagues who inspire you
– Do not worry about how the interviewer perceives your experience in different fields/departments — talk about your skills and how you can do the job

CV Talk

– No more than two A4 pages/cover letter not much longer than 400 words
– Must be readable in all formats, including blackberry
– Don’t just write your job description: talk about what you can bring to the company and why
– Cover letter needs to be attention grabbing and have a hook
– Beware of repetition
– Mirror the job advert and use their lingo
– Beware of value judgements/cliches/generalisations
– Put your twitter handle, blog name and linkedin in your “industry profile
– Be aware that HR managers want hard facts
– Tense: no rule but pick one and stick with it for consistency
– Everything should be consistent: font, bullet points etc
– Do not use ‘etc’ in CV
– Do not say you’re an avid reader! This is an obvious statement

SYP Recruiter Evening

– Move around and grab opportunities while you’re still young and can get away with it
– It doesn’t hurt to apply for jobs so make sure you do!
– The interview process is a two-way thing


This blog first appeared on

Helen can be found on twitter @hjyoungs