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Working In The Publishing Industry

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An overview of the industry

Publishing is entering a new era. With technological developments the industry has changed drastically, which has opened up many new opportunities within the field, making it a fantastic time to get involved in publishing.

The general areas that you can work within are editorial, design, production, sales and marketing.

Editorial work is concerned with the text. You would work with writers to improve their work and have responsibilities such as proofreading to ensure that published work meets the high standards that are expected. If you’re passionate about words and writing, editorial will be the department for you.

As a designer in publishing you would be involved with the visual aspects of a publication such as cover art, marketing material or visuals inside a text. For this work it is likely that you will need to be able to use computer-assisted design (CAD) software.

Sales and marketing teams are responsible for planning and implementing the marketing strategy for any publication and making sure that it is reaching the right audiences and delivering the right message. These roles demand a combination of the creative and the analytical.

Skills & interests required

Publishing is an incredibly difficult industry to crack and there is a lot of competition. You need to be resilient and determined to carve out a career!

Communication skills are also incredibly important because you will need to work as part of a large team. One publishing project will typically involve multiple people with varying skillsets.

Of course, if you’re going to work in editorial you’ll need to have impeccable writing and grammar.

For some roles you will need to have practical skills such as Photoshop or computer design software. A lot of editorial work will also be done on a computer, which is something to bear in mind!

- Attention to detail
- Commercial Awareness
- Digital Marketing
- Graphic Design
- Organisation
- Photoshop

Related Companies

TitleHead OfficeIndustry
CelloglasLeicester, LeicestershirePublishing

Typical Career Progression Routes for School Leavers

It can be very difficult to get an entry-level job in publishing without a degree. The best areas of publishing to try and get into without one would be sales and marketing. Editorial or writing roles typically ask for a degree, although if you have an exceptional portfolio you may be able to bypass this.

The career paths will be similar within the different areas of publishing. Assistant designers will progress to designers and then senior designers, marketing assistants to executives to senior executives, and so on. With each stage you would take on more responsibility and get a pay rise.

Another progression route within publishing is to project manage. Usually someone must take responsibility for getting a publication onto the shelves and ensure that the whole process runs smoothly.

Tips for getting into the field


  • Set up a blog as a platform to show off your writing work. It will also help you to develop your own voice, hone your editing skills and prove your practical marketing skills.

  • Try learning the proofreading symbols - it’s an easy way to show that you’re interested in the industry.

Types of jobs in Publishing

Earning potential

The competition for jobs in this industry means that, unfortunately, starting salaries can be low. Starting salaries for graduates are around £17,000-£20,000 per annum. Without a degree this may be lower. However, with experience the average salary rises to £25,000 and publishing managers typically will be paid £35,000-£45,000.

Salaries will largely depend on your employer, but here are some of the median salaries for jobs within the UK publishing industry:

£19,750 – Publishing Assistant
£33,674 - Publishing Manager
£21,873 – Entry Level Copywriter
£23,407 – Mid-level Copywriter
£38,872 – Senior Copywriter
£18,769 – Editorial Assistant
£27,868 - Editor

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

Technically there are no formal requirements to secure a role in publishing. However, because the competition is so fierce most employers do ask for a degree. The best subjects to study at A-level for this career would be the humanities (e.g. English Literature, History).

However, if university isn’t for you there are other ways that you can make yourself stand out to an employer. First and foremost it’s important to have experience. You could also pursue a qualification in your relevant field. For example, if you wish to go into marketing you could take a Chartered Institute of Marketing-accredited course.

Useful resources

Publication Ethics
IUniverse

Related articles

Industry bodies

The Society of Young Publishers
The Publishers Association
The Society for Editors and Proofreaders
Women in Publishing
British Printing Industries Federation