by Jo Greig
19th November 2020

This week (16-20 November) is the Publisher’s Association’s Work in Publishing Week which is a national campaign to inspire young people aged 14-24 to pursue a career in publishing. One of the aims is to provide support and guidance and so, in this article, Bristol University Press’ Marketing and Sales Director, Jo Greig, offers her tips for getting into the industry.

“I joined BUP three years ago and have been in publishing for twenty-five years. My tips for young people starting out in the industry are below, but the wisest piece of advice I received was from my first boss… “it’s OK to make mistakes but don’t make them again”.

Everyone is always learning something new, whether an experienced CEO or a junior sales rep. It sounds corny, but be true to you. Don’t fake it. It is ok not to know all the answers, but be curious to learn.

1. Do your research into the company
But don’t just look at a company website and repeat back the story in the interview. Look beyond that: research the publishing, follow social media and sign up to emails. Get involved in the conversation the publisher is having with customers and where they are making a difference.

2. Nail ‘your’ sales pitch
As publishers, we want to know what is drawing you to a job in publishing so think of a creative response – “because I love books and reading” is very worthy but not an original answer. We want to hear that you understand the publishing lifecycle and you know how the role you are applying for, whether it’s in sales and marketing, production, finance, editorial or customer services, contributes to getting a book into the hands of the reader.

3. Hone your skillset
We don’t expect you to join as a fully-formed colleague. There will be lots you won’t know and that’s fine. But, having strong knowledge in a specific area or a specific skill is always a winner. Using InDesign brilliantly; knowing how to use a SEO tools like Google Trends; understanding how to use copyediting symbols; being able to edit videos – these are all examples of great skills you can bring and use from day one. The good news is these are easy things to develop for free on your own and showing that initiative is always impressive.

4. Highlight transferable skills
You might not tick all the requirements we ask for, but often the ‘soft’ skills we are looking for are hidden in the extra-curricula activities. Spend some time on writing that section in your CV or application. Acting as a secretary for a hockey club tells us you are organised; being in the team tells us you are a team player; being in a book club tells us you can communicate your thoughts; writing a travel or cooking blog tells us you can craft engaging copy; researching information for a dissertation tells us you can manage data analysis. Think about the different skills that you have developed but might not be so obvious and give examples in your application.

5. Team fit is as important as having a strong skillset
Publishers will both invest a lot of time, energy and resource when you join, so demonstrating how you will interact with the team and how you will contribute to it is something we want to hear. Show us your passion and that you are the person who will invest as much in us as we will in you.”


Find out more about impact, influence and engagement at Bristol University Press here.

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