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Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve been asked loads of questions over the years, and here are our answers to the most Frequently Asked. 

What qualifications do I need for a career in publishing?
Is my degree discipline important?
Is work experience a prerequisite for entry into book publishing?
How long should I do work experience for?
I’ve been told that getting training in proofreading will guarantee me a job. Is this true?
I want to become a freelance proofreader. Will book publishers use my services?
Are there any grants or funding?
Do publishers run graduate training schemes?
I’ve got an interview with a book publisher, how do I prepare?

Is it difficult to move around between departments in book publishing?
Is it difficult to move from one publishing sector to another?
I want to write a book and get published, shall I go and work for a publishers?
Is it worth doing an MA in publishing?
What are entry level jobs in publishing?
Do publishers accept career changers?


What qualifications do I need for a career in publishing?
It is recommended that you have an undergraduate degree.
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Is my degree discipline important?
For the majority of publishers, your subject choice of degree is not key to securing a job. However, if you wanted to work in a specialist area of publishing e.g. art, law, science, then a degree relevant to the specialised area can aid your career progression. It is not essential to have a qualification in media studies or publishing but you could find some of the training you receive on these courses useful.
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Is work experience a prerequisite for entry into book publishing?

The majority of publishers do like you to have completed at least two weeks work experience. There is a clear indication that those who do work experience have an increased chance of landing a job within a publishers but it is not an essential requirement nor is it any guarantee that you will find work.We no longer support any kind of unpaid work experience. 
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How long should I do work experience for? The length of time that you should do work experience for instead of paid employment is as little as possible. All work that falls under the National Minimum Wage guidelines should be paid. 
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I’ve been told that getting training in proofreading will guarantee me a job. Is this true?
No, getting trained in proofreading is not any guarantee that you will find employment either salaried or freelance within book publishing. 
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I want to become a freelance proofreader. Will book publishers use my services?

Book publishers do occasionally use freelance staff but these tend to be tried and tested freelancers who already have a considerable background in book publishing and have usually worked in a salaried job before setting up as a freelancer. Proofreading for a book publisher is more detailed than just checking spelling and grammar and you will be expected to know about the complexities of the publishing process. You should be aware that whilst there are a number of successful freelancers who earn a living there are a vast number of freelancers that don’t. If you consider freelancing as a suitable career option for yourself, you should be aware that this is a heavily oversubscribed career path. For further information on setting up as a freelancer visit the website of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.
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Are there any grants or funding?

For entry into book publishing there are are now a number of schemes run by The Book Trade Charity BTBS. Also, if you have worked in the UK book industry for a minimum of a year The Book Trade Charity BTBS may help you out with a retraining grant or in other ways if you find yourself out of work.
Back to top Do publishers run graduate training schemes?
Yes, from time to time a number of book publishers may run graduate training schemes; however there are many entry level positions within a book publishers which may lead to a similar career path. If you are from an ethnic minority background there are some diversity placements available and you can find out details of these from the Diversity in Publishing Network (Dipnet) http://www.dipnet.org.uk/ or Creative Access http://creativeaccess.org.uk/
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I’ve got an interview with a book publisher, how do I prepare?
Firstly, you need to show that you know what is going on with your future employer – research them, their website, their news, the trade magazines.  Have they issued any press releases?  Made any acquisitions or appointments?  Show some enthusiasm and interest that you want to work for THEM.  Look too at the market they publish in – who are their competitors?  How well are they doing at the moment?  Secondly, re-read the job advertisement and your CV and revisit some of the preparation you should have done when sending in your application, such as how you personally match the job requirements and specification.Thirdly, check out the latest current trends within the industry, to see if you know what is going on. You can find the latest industry news on these websites
http://www.thebookseller.com
http://www.bookbrunch.co.uk
http://www.booktrade.info
http://www.publishingtalk.eu
Always demonstrate that you are a quick learner (if indeed that is the case!), most companies have their own in-house systems that they train on, so always want employees who are quick to learn. Also it is a good idea to read up on some interview questions.  There are a number of suitable books available.  More information on interviews can be found on the https://www.bookcareers.comwebsite.
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Is it difficult to move around between departments in book publishing?
Yes and no. It really depends on your transferable skills, experience and competencies and many people do change their career path.  Currently most roles within publishing overlap to some extent, so as time progresses it may become easier to do this.
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Is it difficult to move from one publishing sector to another?
It is difficult to move from one publishing sector to another, and it may take you longer to find a suitable role, but it is not impossible.  Even though your skills and competencies may be instantly transferrable the business models, editorial and customer bases have many fundamental differences.
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I want to write a book and get published, shall I go and work for a publishers?
A number of people who want to write see becoming an editor in a book publishing house as a suitable career path, as they think it will lead them to being published themselves. Whilst we do know of one or two book editors who have managed to become successful authors, our main advice is to steer clear of book publishing, and to look to a career in journalism or an outlet that allows you to use your writing skills every day.

As an editor in a book publishers, you will be working constantly with other people’s work – not your own. You will have very little opportunity for writing yourself, and very little time for developing or perfecting your own writing skills. Instead of your being happy in your job, you could find yourself being in a personal nightmare.

We talk to many authors who are frustrated that they do not use their writing skills enough in their jobs, so whilst you have the career choice, ensure you make the right one.
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Is it worth doing an MA in publishing?
This is a personal choice. Whilst there is no doubt that the university courses running MAs in publishing have lots of success in their postgraduates finding gainful employment in publishing there is no guarantee that you will find a job or have a more successful career than somebody without an MA. Statistics from the bookcareers.com salary survey also seem to suggest that those with an MA in publishing are on similar salaries as those without.
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What are entry level jobs in publishing?
If you were looking for an entry level job, the kind of job titles you should be looking for are editorial assistant, publicity assistant, production assistant, marketing assistant, publishing assistant, sales assistant. Back to top 
Do publishers accept career changers?
You are never too old to transfer into publishing, although it is perceived as a young industry. If you were career changing into book publishing, you will need to think how you will market yourself in a flooded market against those who have years of experience. It is easier to move over from some different industries (e.g. other areas of the media, teaching) than it is from others.   We would also say that as a side note that the question “Have you thought about publishing as a career?” often comes from those who have little experience of the industry (We’ve seen Myers Briggs Personality tests do this – suggesting publishing to people who have far better career option
s elsewhere!)

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© Suzanne Collier, bookcareers.com