National Careers Week / Live Twitter Chat #bookcareers



To celebrate National Careers Week we will be updating the website daily with new information and comment culminating in a live twitter chat from 12.00 noon on Friday, 6th March 2015.  You can participate in the twitter chat using the hashtag #bookcareers and by following responses from the @bookcareers twitter account.

You can follow all the tweets from National Careers Week by using the hashtag #NCW2015.



National Careers Week takes place from 2nd to 6th March 2015 and it supported by a number of major organisations, including the Career Development Institute.  Suzanne Collier from is recognised by the CDI as Registered Practitioner of Career Guidance and Development, operates to CDI’s code of ethics and commits to at least 20 hours a year of continuous professional development.

How to job search in book publishing


“An incredibly helpful day, full of useful information”

Would you like to know EVERYTHING there is about job searching in book publishing?

Whether you are established in your publishing career or just starting out, this day is aimed at you.
Covering everything to do with job searching in publishing from your CV, Covering Letters, CVs, Interviews (including competency based interviews) Networking, Social Media, Recruitment Consultants, Your personal brand, Where to find jobs and lots of other snippets and valuable information you need to know.

“I thought the content was perfect and arranged really well” 

The industry is changing at a rapid rate and so is the way that employers recruit staff. are regularly in touch with employers and recruiters across the industry and will share with you the tools that you need to help you find your own job and ways forward, so that you have the knowledge to go and get the job that you really want.

“Very helpful seminar. Having everything you need to know in one day is the best way to approach it”

This is aimed at people who already have some experience of book publishing and who may be job searching for the first time in quite a while, or who have already been on a prolonged job search, although we will welcome entry level candidates who have an understanding of the book publishing industry and the jobs available.
It doesn’t matter which sector you are in, be it Trade, Academic,Educational, STM etc, the skills you will learn are applicable to all areas.

“A fantastic, informative day. I feel inspired!”

This will be taking place at regular intervals.  You can find out more information and book your place here

So you think you are due a pay rise? (Or How to Negotiate Your Salary)

No doubt, like many others, you’ve read the results of the salary survey and you think now is the time to go in all guns blazing and negotiate a pay rise.  Hold on, step back, don’t go blustering in straight away and ask for more money because the ‘survey says so’. Do some research first.

I’m not going to tell you exactly how to negotiate your salary.  You can guarantee that almost every HR Director and Senior Manager reads what I write about salary issues, and if I posted everything you should do, they will know your tactics, and we don’t want to give them that advantage do we?


  1. Can the company afford to give you a pay rise? Is it doing well? Have you seen quarterly figures, profit warnings or predictions of losses?  Do you have access to the Company Accounts or forecasts? If the answer to this is no and it is a Limited Company have you checked out the accounts on Companies House?
  2. Is it financially viable to give you a pay rise? Does the company only give inflation-driven pay rises? Be wary of pushing your salary higher than the company can afford as it could put your job at risk.  Are there others in the team whose costs might affect salary?  Also as well as salary there is a financial cost to employing someone, such as national insurance, bonus, benefits, and
  3. Why do you deserve a pay rise? What have you done that proves your worth to the company? Have you managed to influence a project or the success of a book? Have you saved the company money? Have you taken on extra responsibilities?  Do you have high pressure or demanding tasks?  Are your input and experience directly relevant to the company today and moving forward?  Have you kept your skills up to date and ahead of the company’s needs?
  4. Draw as much information together as you can, and have at least 6 points written down on a piece of paper (don’t share this with your boss). This will also help you if you have difficulty in remembering exactly the reasons, statements or figures.
  5. Be sure of your ground before asking. Publishing is over-subscribed and when the boss mentions the queue of people wanting to do your job, they could be right, but the queue of people don’t necessarily have your expertise and are unlikely to come in and do the job in exactly the same successful way you do. It also costs companies a lot of money to recruit both in potential advertising costs and the management time taken up interviewing, as well as any on the job training.  Even someone who ‘can hit the ground running’ still has things to learn.
  6. Do not be impulsive, act hastily or make rash statements “If you don’t give me a pay rise I am leaving” or bring in life issues “I am looking to buy a house”. These statements whilst deeply affecting your life are irrelevant to whether they pay you the right salary for the role. As much as stating the extra hours you work, and comparing your salary to the cost of living might help, they don’t carry as much weight in negotiation as stating your direct financial input would.
  7. Remember if your job involves negotiation your negotiation skills are likely to be severely tested when it comes to discussing salary. Don’t give in at the first hurdle; use those tough negotiation skills you apply in your job and are so well known for.
  8. Be prepared for the counter-arguments, such as “if I pay you more, then I have to pay the person sitting next to you more” and “there is a queue of people waiting to step into your job”; be sure of your value before you start negotiations, and also be prepared for the flippant responses. I once asked for a salary review and my boss said ‘How much am I paying you?’ and I replied accordingly and he paused for a moment before responding “I’ve reviewed your salary; you’re paid enough.  Next question!”
  9. If the money is not forthcoming or you don’t get the answer you want “let’s see how things go” then fix a date for a review, maybe in 3 or 6 months or tie it into your appraisal. You can also ask for recompense in other ways, such as extra holiday, training or more flexible hours.
  10. Finally, remember that none of us really work in publishing for money; we all do it for love!



An edited version of this article was originally published online at book machine.

Spring Clean Your Job Search


If you’ve been on the job market for a while – or even if you’ve only just started looking for a job – why not give your job search a Spring Clean?

It is very easy for your job search to feel stale; always looking at the same job boards; always checking the same websites or always chasing up the same recruiters, but if you’re not getting jobs, or there seems to be a lack of jobs to go for, maybe it is time to give your job search a whole new approach.


When you are Spring Cleaning your home, very often you start at the very beginning and assess what needs to be done. Now is the time to do the same with your job search.

Firstly, examine the type of job you are looking for. Does it exist? Is it called something else? Can you estimate how many people are currently employed in the job that you want to do? In summary, how realistic is your job search? If you’re looking for exactly the same role that you are doing at the moment, or you were doing for your previous employer, you need to think again.  Publishing, even digital publishing, is constantly changing and looking for the same thing is no longer relevant. Look at your skills and see how they match the jobs that are on offer; this should guide you towards the best roles for you.

Now you know what sort of job you are looking for, rewrite your CV / résumé – don’t just update it. It is so easy to ‘add-on’ to a CV: your latest job title; your last role, but again, look at the jobs that are on offer, what skills are they asking for that you can do but you haven’t mentioned? For example, within marketing it was always taken for granted that you would be involved in brand management so you never mentioned it on your CV, but employers are now asking brand management as a skill on its own, so if you have this experience add it in.

Be consistent and ensure whatever skills you have are followed through in your online profiles; for example if you have brand management experience you might have the same avatar or photograph across all the social networks you use, as if this was a brand or logo you were managing.

Make sure your CV doesn’t go over two pages and do proofread it manually – there are so many spelling and grammar mistakes which Spellcheck overlooks.

Review the letter of application that you send with your CV; you might have a formula for writing covering letters but this shouldn’t be obvious to the person recruiting. If you only have one paragraph in the middle that you change and everything else is the same, this is no longer good enough. Publishers want to employ people that want to work for them and you need to demonstrate this throughout your letter, without going over the top.

Look at how you network and who you network with, whether it is online through social networking or in person. For your online networking, review your profiles and update them accordingly; ensure that as well as friends, you are connecting to people who may be able to advance your career, either with information or a potential job role. If you are networking in person, examine what organisations you are networking with and whether the network is helping you meet the ‘right’ people and make the ‘right’ connections. A good connection doesn’t have to be able to offer you a job, but may help you access skills and knowledge, and in this changing world, you need to keep up to date with what is going on. What about your pitch or ‘elevator speech’? Does this need revising and updating? If you are not getting the right responses you can’t be saying the right pitch to the right people. Is your pitch good enough? Who are the right people?

So in summary, as with a Spring Clean: look in every corner of your job search, start at the beginning, review everything you’ve been doing, have you missed anything? Have you overlooked something? Aim to look at things with fresh eyes. Give all the documents you use in your job search a polish and ensure your professional appearance isn’t dusty too.

If you’d like personal help spring cleaning your job search we recommend our training course
How to Job Search in Book Publishing.


A version of this article was originally published in Publishing Talk Magazine

What do you want to be when you grow up?


What do you want to be when you grow up?  It’s a question we often ask children; I know I was asked numerous times when I was a child.  Originally I wanted to be in the Police, then when I chose my options I wanted to be a Social Worker. By the time it came to receiving Careers Guidance in school, I’d settled on working in retail, and planned to train in management for Marks and Spencer because I thought it was the right thing to do.

I was sent to Redbridge Careers Service for a Careers Guidance Interview, and the options were ‘Do you want to work in an office/shop/factory/indoors/outdoors? -Delete as applicable’. At the time there was no guidance for working in a particular industry or profession, no internet to discover opportunities available, and aside from the few days I’d spent drawing pictures in my Mum’s office when school was closed, no real experience of the world of work.

This is a scan of my actual Careers Guidance Interview Statement.

Careers Guidance 1983 Scan (640x466)

Careers Guidance Interview Statement

At school I was always the person chosen to tidy the English Department’s cupboard of books.  When they relocated the cupboard from one side of the school to the other, the Head of English asked me to come in especially to help organise.  Yet no one at school or in the Careers Service ever told me I could work in publishing; no one ever told me I could work with books and this is why, after I fell into publishing by accident at the age of 16, I have spent most of my publishing career letting others know that they too could have career with books.    I often describe publishing as a vocation; it definitely is for me – is it for you too?  What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? Were you told about publishing as a career?

How to Market Books

We are delighted to see that finally Alison Baverstock’s classic title HOW TO MARKET BOOKS has been updated to cover the digital age. This really is a key book for anyone working with books, be you working directly with the content or an established marketeer who thinks they know it all. If it is anything like the previous edition there will be something in it for everyone and a review will appear on here later. You can purchase your copy using the link above.

New Grant Scheme for Internships

A new grant scheme has been announced by the The Book Trade Charity (BTBS), as part of its closer collaboration with the Matthew Hodder Charitable Trust.  It is the second phase of a pilot project aimed at encouraging talented younger people into the book trade though a programme of grants.

The initial launch set out to help those who are unable to get a foot into the industry where financial pressure means that they are unable to pay for travel, subsistence, overnight accommodation or even suitable clothing for interviews.  The scheme is available for under 30’s, who are resident in the UK, applying for a job in the UK Book Trade, in publishing, bookselling or with literary agencies, who can demonstrate a financial need.

The project has now been extended to cover support for appropriate internships; grants of up to £2,000 will be available quickly to those eligible for the scheme.  BTBS will welcome applications either by the applicants or from companies, trade bodies or others acting on behalf of the applicant.

On launching the scheme, David Hicks – Chief Executive, BTBS said ” The Book Trade Charity traces its roots back to 1837 and Victorian philanthropy, but we are keen to support the trade in ways which are relevant today.  This particular programme recognises that it is difficult for young people to get a foot on the ladder in today’s rapidly-changing industry and we will be delighted if our assistance can help overcome some basis obstacles.”

The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) is the book trade’s own welfare charity, offering financial support and/or housing to anyone who has worked in the trade for more than one year in a range of roles and who has a problem, whether personal, financial or health-related.  This project does not rely on a qualifying period of work in the trade as it is designed to assist and those wishing to enter the industry, including students.

Applications will be considered for paid internships, normally for not longer than six months, where additional funds are necessary to make it possible for the individual to take up the position, which they might not be able to afford otherwise.  Support is envisaged towards

  • travel
  • subsistence
  • accommodation
  • general living costs

the employer will be expected to be paying at least Minimum Wage and the scheme is designed to support genuine opportunities, not exploitation.  Work Experience placements (e.g. as part of trade-related post-graduate degrees), where these are unpaid, will also be considered for BTBS support on the individual merits of the application.

You can download the full guidelines and application form here Internships in the Book Trade guidelines
or visit The Book Trade Charity BTBS website for further information and other funding available.

New Frontiers – How Stories are Told Today

New Frontiers is an evening all about stories, their tellers, and the new ways they are told.
Every day innovative technologies and new ideas allow publishing to expand beyond tradition. Organised by the MA Students at the London College of Communication and with a number of key note speakers, this should be a very interesting event.  There is also a panel discussion and an opportunity to network.

More details on the programme are here.  You can book a place here

Is Everyone Now a Publisher?

Our friends at Kingston University are organising an important one day course, aimed primarily for Authors – but relevant to everyone – on Saturday, 28th March 2015.

With the publishing landscape is awash with change, publishers are buying less and more cautiously and self-publishing is now an established and effective option for managing the route from writer to reader. However they plan to reach their market, authors need to embrace new ways of thinking and working; choices have to be made.  The speakers for the day include Michael Bhaskar (cofounder and Publishing Director @canelo_co) and literary agent Andrew Lownie.

You can find full details of the day and how to book here

Are up to 27% of jobs in book publishing “at risk”?

In the salary survey we asked the question:
“During a usual week, what percentage of your time is taken up working on titles that are digital, eBooks or online publications as opposed to hard copy print?”

The results indicate that 16.3% of respondents are not working on digital products at all, and there are a further 11% who did not answer the question. We might assume this is because they didn’t feel it was a question relevant to them. This gives us a whopping 27.3% who might have no digital experience.

The issue is, with the rest of the industry moving their skills forward in digital publishing, and keeping on top of how the publishing industry is changing, what will happen to those who are not involved in digital at all?

What will happen to their jobs, if their current employers decide to change strategy? Will those jobs be made redundant and new jobs created for which they do not have the relevant skillset to apply? If they are made redundant, what are their chances of being re-employed back within the industry if the only jobs available within the industry require digital skills? We also know that when people go to interviews, having the relevant training is not often enough – employers always demand on the job experience and practical examples of how you have used digital skills in a commercial environment.

These are serious issues that everyone in the industry needs to address. If you are working on digital products, would you be willing to mentor someone who is not? If you are a recruiter or employer, what digital skills and experience would you feel was adequate to employ someone in a digital role, particularly if they came from a non-digital position? If you are one of those in a non-digital role, what can you be doing now to upskill and ensure that you have a future in the industry, whether with your current employer or someone new?

As to the people who I meet who still say they ‘don’t want to do digital’, then you don’t want to do publishing. If you want to see where book publishing is already at, look at some of the output of apps from TouchPress, and check out what the educational publishing market is up to by looking at Collins Connect  and Pearson. Most publishers have made a major investment in interactive and responsive applications. In fact check out what everyone in publishing is doing digitally and ensure you are open to taking your career forward.

In the next blog I aim to talk about the training you can undertake to ensure you don’t get left behind and the resources available . In the meantime, let me have your thoughts about digital skills and what skills employers expect from those who they are recruiting from non-digital roles. Also, if you have a digital resource that could be a good point of reference let me know, either in the comments or via the contact form.

Publishing needs to take a good hard long look at itself.

On 13/1/15 Suzanne Collier was on a Panel at the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) AGM  #SYPAGM15.  This is blog is slightly edited transcript of her talk.  The Salary Survey 2013 indicates that diversity is getting worse, with 93.7% of respondents classed as White, against the results of 2008, which reported that 90% of respondents were white.


If Publishing truly wants to increase diversity, then the industry needs to take a good long hard look at itself.

It needs to:-

  1. Pay competitive entry level salaries.
  2. Stop all unpaid work experience. Two weeks unpaid work experience should only be available to those still in education, with travel and lunch paid, otherwise all work experience and internships should be paid.   Also I would like to see the re-introduction of work experience for the under 18s.  When did it happen that under-18s were blocked from doing work experience on ‘Health and Safety Grounds’?  We need to open children’s eyes whilst they are in school as to what a career in publishing has to offer.
  3. Offer proper career structure. There are too many Editorial Assistants who want to move on or upwards but they are never given any training or support or the opportunity to be a Junior Editor.  Where is career progression?

But then I ask myself,

Why are a high percentage of people who register on the CV Clearing House ethnically diverse, yet they don’t seem to be represented in the publishing industry?

Why is it that those of a diverse background seem to “have issues” in the workplace.  I have spoken to at least 5 diverse people who didn’t make their probation period in a new role, or their probation was extended. In one case this seemed to be “nit-picking”.

When I was running a job club for unemployed people, why were the diverse people, some who had fantastic digital skills, with me the longest?  This included candidates who had completed an MA in Publishing.

And then I wonder, although Human Resources may be on board with Diversity, is everyone else in the company on the same page?

Do you know that someone who is Asian might come across as softly spoken in an interview to people they don’t know or are unfamiliar with?  So rejecting them because ”they won’t speak up for themselves at meetings” seems to be rather ignorant

Or that some cultures find it extremely difficult to praise themselves, so that “talking themselves up” at interviews is alien to them.

Or that someone who does not have English as their native language might talk very fast, almost gabbling, or they might be talking very slowly.  Do you know that this likely because of the way they were taught or it is the way their native language is spoken?

I do believe that we should recruit on skills and competencies but we don’t seem to be giving 100% of the population the same opportunities and understanding, based possibly on cultural differences.

I started in publishing straight from school, nothing special – Beal High School, Ilford –  the local comprehensive school, and I like to think that I’ve made some sort of contribution to the publishing industry (hell, I’ve even won an award for my contribution, so yes!) yet today someone from my background can cross publishing off their career list.  There might be many others like me, with so much to contribute, who are blocked from publishing because the industry is now only accepting graduates and above.

At the age of 22 and 5 days, back in 1989, I became the youngest person ever to Chair the SYP.  I never thought that my record would last as long as it has, and definitely not to 2015.  Yet at this moment, unless the industry changes, who knows when it might be beaten?

I would have also expected by the year 2015, for the SYP to have had at least one Chair who is of a diverse background, and my offer is this: – If you are a member of the SYP, are of a diverse background and would like to be considered as a future chair of the SYP, which is a two year process (at least one year on the committee, one year as Chair), then I am happy to personally mentor you for as long as it takes.

Publishing needs to change. We need to work together to make change happen.