SYP LDN Career Cafe – Tips & Tricks for your first 5 years in Editorial

Posted on September 18, 2020 in London

Getting a foot through the publishing door can be tricky. Entry-level positions can be few and far between and knowing how to put yourself in the best stead to get your teeth into a role can be daunting. Thankfully, London’s #SYPCareerCafe series is deciphering all that confusion and asking publishing professionals at every level what we need to know to start our careers in… Editorial.


Cast your mind back to sunnier days when the evenings weren’t itching to get dark by dinnertime. A Career Café throwback for you now, and we think you’ll like this one.

On the 18th June 2020, chaired by SYP London’s very own Omara Elling-Hwang ( @OmaraEH ) who works as an Editorial Assistant at HarperCollins we gathered around our Zoom screens to listen to all things Editorial.


So, let’s meet our amazing panellists:

We listened to the advice and experiences of Katie Loughnane ( @katie_loughnane ) who works as a Commissioning Editor at Avon Books. She began her career in International Sales at Penguin Random House before moving to Cornerstone as an Editorial Assistant.


Mo Hafeez ( @MWHafeez ) also gave us his insights into working in Editorial. Hafeez works as an Editorial Assistant at Faber & Faber, working on their non-fiction and Faber Social lists. Previously, he was a Creative Access trainee at Granta Books, sponsored by the Mo Siewscharran Fund.


Carl Smith ( @thatpubblogger ) works as a Commissioning Editor at Severn House, where he commissions mysteries, thrillers and SFF. Smith also runs That Publishing Blog which helps others get into the publishing industry and is Chair of the Society of Young Publishers, UK Committee.


Jade Grogan works on the Philosophy list at Bloomsbury. She started working as a Publishing Assistant at Wiley before moving to SAGE as an Editorial Assistant and then being promoted to Assistant Editor.


So, what were their top tips for working in Editorial?

  • Read often and widely! Demonstrating that you have the right instincts and good market knowledge helps you stand out from the crowd. Mention authors you admire and attend interviews with examples of publishing that you’ve loved. Grab yourself a copy of Helen Corner-Bryant and Kathryn Price’s On Editing: How to Edit Your Novel the Professional Way – essentially a bible on editing fiction!
  • Don’t be afraid of entering publishing from other industries! Careers such as journalism, teaching and copywriting can be so useful in providing you with a wealth of transferable skills.
  • If editorial’s your dream, swoop in through Marketing or Publicity or Rights. It’s a cliché that, once you’re in publishing, you’re in. So, keep an eye out for those entry level jobs in other departments as a way of getting your foot through the editorial door.
  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Does everyone hate this question? We do. How you answer really depends on the type of publishing house you’re interviewing for. If it’s a smaller house, you might say that you hope to acquire your own titles but this might be a stretch at a bigger house. You can also mention promotions, to show that you’re considering how your career can progress past a junior role.
  • Don’t ask, don’t get. Despite recent salary exposes across social media, discussing salary can be uncomfortable. But our panellists agreed that, if you don’t ask for what you want, you won’t get it! Enter the discussion with a proposal that includes the ways you’ve contributed to the team and successes that you’ve had. Keep in good communication with your line manager so that they know what you’re doing to benefit the team. Then, when the time comes, you’ll be in a good position to big yourself up to your line manager and ask for what you deserve! Have a look at the blog Ains Notes for more promotion and career advice!


Is there anything else you’ve like to ask about Editorial? Send your questions to @SYP_LDN with the #SYPCareerCafe and we’ll get back to you!


We may have seen the last of our #SYPCareerCafe events for now! But don’t worry – if you missed anything, check back here over the next few weeks for a roundup of our panellists’ advice.


Take care!


Co-written by Leah Quinn and Hannah Beeson