September 30, 2019, by Jackie Thompson
Networking Helped Me Get a Job in Publishing
By Lydia Weigel, BA American Studies and English
I found out about the marketing assistant vacancy at Penguin Random House through networking with people at the company and signing up for the latest jobs through their website.
The recruitment process
The recruitment process was actually quite straightforward, I had two interviews, one more formal than the other but neither were terribly scary! I was pleasantly surprised by the mass of questions surrounding my personal interests, and projects outside of my degree. They were keen to see my personality rather than my ‘academic credentials’ and anything I was working on in my own time. I was (obviously) asked about my reading habits, things I had recently read and what genre I enjoy to read.
I went in prepared with knowledge about the publishing house I had applied to and I would highly recommend doing a lot of research prior to the interview. Big publishing companies are made up of many individual publishing houses that publish a vast array of books and can often be very different.
Marketing in a publishing house
I currently assist my team on a vast array of book campaigns, ranging from fiction to non-fiction books, literary to commercial. These campaigns include reissues (books that have been published a while ago but because of a demand we publish again with a different jacket), debut authors and brand authors. Marketing in publishing is as much a strategic role as it is creative therefore creating social assets is a big part of the role and will shape a campaign. These assets will end up all over the Penguin channels and imprint social channels. I’ll also mock-up artwork such as posters, bookmarks and proof jackets which are usually sent out to booksellers across the country, and sometimes internationally.
Supporting my development
I’ve had loads of training in Photoshop, Indesign and fonts and we use a lot of in-house software and databases which are absolutely key in bringing a book to life. There is a tool which essentially lets you research the data of every book published. I’ve had training that ranges from drafting emails to learning how to code invoices.
The culture at Penguin Random House is great. If you are interested in something, there is the option to move forward with it. A part of the industry that interests me is our relationship with independent bookshops, so a lot of the work I do is about building a better relationship with indies and understanding how we can do more to help them – listening to what they want and what their buyers are interested in.
Doing my own research
I didn’t really use the Careers and Employability Service (I was one of those students who couldn’t even look past my final year, let alone the future) and I will say that is perfectly fine. A lot of people will use the Careers team and that is great for both those who know what they want to do and for those who don’t.
I knew I wanted to go into publishing so dedicated my summer post-graduation to researching the industry in my own time. While this can be difficult for its own reasons (for example, publishing is notoriously a quiet industry for sourcing information), it was good for me as I was in a better space to think about my future.
My advice to you
The best advice I received and can give is to network! It can sound really dreary and a bit like a broken record, but it’s so important in today’s age. We have social media which makes networking a hundred times easier than it ever used to be.
For me, going to book clubs around London (Waterstones are fantastic at hosting author and book events, and often for free too) massively helped me build my own network, and allowed me to have a window into an industry I knew nothing about. Events are a great way to do it too but also a friendly message on Instagram or LinkedIn can go a long away. Ask to meet someone for a coffee if they have a free moment so they can tell you more about their job and what you can do to better your chances. I also found that most people really do want to help a young person out who is showing genuine passion and excitement for their industry.
If you want to get into publishing, read our guide written by our knowledgeable advisers. It covers exploring the sector, the main employers and roles, how to find work experience, and how to secure your first job role. After this, why not book some time with a member of our team?