This is a brief guide to some of the more popular jobs in publishing.

Editorial assistant

Editorial assistants experience all aspects of publishing by assisting senior editorial staff in the administration of the commissioning, planning and production of books, journals, magazines and a broad range of publicity materials. Editorial assistants perform a range of administrative and editorial tasks necessary to get publications published.

Typical work activities

  • supporting editorial staff in all activities leading to a publication, including acting as a personal assistant to commissioning editors and overseeing tasks such as issuing contracts and dealing with royalties
  • liaising with other in-house teams, writers, photographers, printers, designers and production staff to negotiate and monitor timescales for stages in the publishing process
  • dealing with the administration of work commissioned to freelance writers, picture researchers, photographers, stylists and illustrators
  • organising and researching projects to tight deadlines
  • summarising written material
  • correcting manuscripts
  • obtaining rights to use materials from other publications
  • using computers for word processing, desktop publishing and email
  • filing, photocopying and other routine administrative tasks
  • writing articles and reports
  • amending articles
  • collating the work of several authors
  • using specialist electronic publishing packages (e.g. QuarkXPress).

Production assistant

Production publishing vacancies are the most technical jobs in the publishing industry, involving typesetting, printing and binding. People who take publishing production jobs have to be good communicators and ability to work to deadlines.

Typical work activities

  • Keeping a log of clients and stakeholders who are participating in magazines
  • Ensuring deadlines are met by clients and journalists, giving extensions when necessary and where possible
  • Creating a flat plan for the designer to follow
  • Working alongside the designer to ensure adverts are designed to the client's specifications
  • Sending out proofs for approval and ensuring changes are made
  • Looking over PDFs, checking positioning, captions, standfirsts, authors, etc are all correct
  • Liaising with the printers regarding file submission, movement of publication dates, any printing issues and copies
  • Delegating proofreading to others and giving final approval to the content
  • Liaising with clients post-publication regarding their thoughts on the magazine and voucher copies
  • Arranging regular meetings with the MD, the production team and project managers to make sure everyone is updated on progress
  • Keeping a log of incomes for each magazine and making sure base costs are met

Marketing assistant

Marketing assistants are involved in aspects of marketing, including: planning; advertising; promotion; public/media relations; product development; distribution; sponsorship; and research. The role is often challenging, varied and exciting.

Typical work activities

The work of a marketing assistant is usually very varied. Tasks typically involve:

  • maintaining and building contacts with the media
  • managing the production of marketing materials, including leaflets, posters and flyers – this can involve writing and proofreading copy and liaising with designers and printers
  • arranging for the effective distribution of marketing materials
  • maintaining and updating mailing databases
  • organising and attending events and exhibitions
  • carrying out market research and customer surveys to assess demand, brand positioning and awareness
  • contributing to and developing long-term marketing plans and strategies
  • supporting the marketing manager and other colleagues.

Assistant to a literary agent

The main role of an assistant is to assist the literary agent in all aspects of his/her work, from drawing up contracts to editing manuscripts to filing e-mails. Each agent will want different things from their assistant depending on their individual needs – some will want an assistant who focuses on editorial, others will want an assistant who can spend the majority of their time on contract work – but the main responsibilities are likely to be as follows:

  • keeping the agent's diary
  • chasing money owed from publishers
  • drawing up draft copies of contracts between the author and publisher
  • entering contracts on rights management software (Bradbury Philips)
  • sorting the agent's post
  • updating the website
  • reading and editing manuscripts
  • filing the agent's emails and other paperwork
  • being the agent's representative while the agent is away/out of the office
  • liaising with sub-agents (sending out books, keeping them up to date with reviews, etc)
  • sending out contracts for publishers and authors to sign
  • other administrative work as it arises during the day to day running of the office

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