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Careers in publishing

Careers in publishingWant to work with books but not sure if you want to be an editor? Check out our guide to the different careers available within publishing.

The book publishing industry in the UK employs over 400,000 people, and the major publishing houses are all based in London. According to a survey by The Bookseller, 49% of all those who work in publishing are based in London, although there are other publishing houses across the UK.

The range of jobs in publishing is wide, from editorial assistants to distribution managers, marketing executives to production and design experts. Whether your focus is creative or technical, there will be something in publishing to inspire you.


The production team are responsible for ensuring that the finished book gets successfully to the printer. As well as making sure everyone has the right information and documents, production also hold the keys to the technical aspects of book design, helping the editors and designers to ensure that their product meets industry guidelines. People working in production need to have very good time management skills as well as a great eye for detail.


The work in marketing departments can be very varied. Essentially their job involves promotion; making sure that new titles sell well, and that people hear about them in the right places. A job in marketing can involve anything from running competitions to promote a book to writing reviews and text for the covers. Marketing types are generally very outgoing and need to be imaginative and organised.


The sales department try to maintain and create accounts with book sellers. This might involve phone calls and meetings with bookshops or major supermarket chains. For an international publishing company this may lead to trips abroad to meet with foreign resellers. Salespeople need to have good negotiating skills and self-confidence.


Rights involves the negotiation of the copyright to your books. This can involve taking fees from people who want to use quotes or extracts from your books on TV or radio. It also applies when other publishers want to print a run of your books, which requires them to pay you a fee. People who work in rights need to be very organised, and it is occasionally useful to have language skills to help negotiations run smoothly.


Editors are responsible not only for which books get published, but also for sometimes significant changes within the text and pictures. As an editor, you can choose whether you want to work with words, pictures, or a mix of both if publishing relevant material e.g. children’s books or science journals. To work in editorial publishing you need to have a very good grasp of the English language and an eye for detail.