UCL Careers



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Publishing is one of the UK’s leading creative industries, communicating concepts and ideas around the world.

According to research by the UK Publishers Association, ‘the publishing industry has a turnover of more than £6bn and directly employs 29,000 people in the UK. It is the largest exporter of books in the world, with income from exports accounting for almost 60% of revenues’.

Roles vary depending on the type of publishing and the department you work in. Areas of publishing include:

  • Academic.
  • Commercial or trade.
  • Educational.
  • Fiction.
  • Professional.
  • Scientific, technical or medical (STM).

Digital publishing is also a growing field, especially in academic, educational and STM publishing.

Competition for opportunities with large publishers can be fierce, so look widely for routes into the sector. Many companies, particularly smaller publishers do not formally advertise vacancies. It is therefore important to build industry connections through networking and to make speculative applications.

Work experience is an important asset when applying for jobs in publishing, so consider completing an internship or work experience placement. Work experience also gives you the opportunity to decide whether publishing is for you and what role and company may suit you best. 

If you are new to this area, watch this video (20min) to gain some insights into the sector. Gerard O’Hare, Head of Client Development at The Bookseller provides an introduction to the Publishing sector. They highlight the types of organisations and roles involved in this space. They also discuss how to find work and stay up-to-date with current issues in the area. If you would like to meet them and ask follow up questions book your place at the Media Themed Week’s Q&A on Thursday 3rd.

All resources are correct at the time of writing (November 2020). For updated publishing resources, please visit the UCL Careers Online Library.

Sample roles and careers

Investigating the breadth or roles within an industry can really help you understand what you are most interested in and so refine your thinking.

The Prospects website is a key resource for researching job roles within publishing, such as:

Each job profile contains information on:

  • Types of roles available.
  • Responsibilities and what to expect in the workplace.
  • Salary.
  • Working hours.
  • Professional qualifications required.
  • Transferable skills.
  • Finding work experience.
  • Professional development and career prospects.

Some further informative sector career guides include:

Interviews with professionals

Read through these interviews to learn more about their work, how they got there, and their advice to current students hoping to get started in the industry. You should get a feel for the work and whether it is something which interests you, but also how to break into the sector.

* Will be available to answer questions on Thursday 3rd December. Send your questions in advance.

UCL Careers blogs and news
Sector news and research – where to keep up-to-date with current issues

Throughout your applications and interviews it will be vital to show an understanding of the organisation in the context of the broader industry; what it does and why it takes the approach it does. It will also be valuable to be able to discuss current issues and trends.

  • The Guardian: publishing careers – article about getting in to publishing industry, including case studies.
  • Society of Young Publishers – a membership organisation for anyone interested in or working in the publishing industry. The society organises events and networking opportunities, produces a quarterly magazine and provides an online jobs board.
  • Publishing Perspectives - an online business news magazine covering the global book industry.
  • The Lit Platform – a platform for exploring and showcasing fresh perspectives on publishing, digital culture and innovation and publisher of The Lit, a quarterly journal exploring the possibilities of publishing and storytelling in all its forms.
Professional bodies

Professional bodies are a great source of information, training and support. Just like the above resources, they are a great way to stay informed. In addition, it may be possible to join or create a community of people who can support you to achieve your goals. They also often have ready-made lists of organisations within an industry, these can be used to find work in less well known organisations.

  • The Publishers Association – the member organisation for UK publishing. The website includes a careers section with job profiles and each year they run a Work in Publishing Week to inspire young people about the possibilities in publishing.
  • The Independent Publishers Guild – the association for the independent publishing sector in the UK and Ireland. The website offers a news section, blog, and online jobs board.
  • The Professional Publishers Association (PPA) – the member organisation for professional publishers, covering magazines and multi-platform media businesses. The website includes sector news and data and a directory of members.
  • The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) – international trade association which supports organisations that publish scholarly and professional content. The website offers industry news, an online jobs board, and member directory.
Employer directories and key job sites

These resources are essential to find jobs specific to the sector you are interested. You can also use them to find organisations to approach with a speculative application.

  • BookBrunch – news website for the book industry with online jobs board.
  • The Bookseller Jobs – online jobs board from The Book Seller.
  • Independent Publishers Guild – jobs board for the independent publishing sector in the UK and Ireland.
  • Guardian Jobs – online jobs board, search for publishing jobs.
  • The Telegraph Jobs – digital media and publishing jobs.
  • LinkedIn Jobs – search for publishing jobs on LinkedIn and network with industry professionals.
  • The London Book Fair – visit the fair for a chance to meet and network with a wide range of publishers, from large publishing houses to small independents.
Sample graduate schemes and internships

These structured programmes can be a useful foundation in the industry, but they are not the only entry-level positions. Your competition will be high and so you may want to diversify your job hunt and look for other opportunities in less well known organisations (see previous sections).

  • HarperCollins Publishers – offer an 18 month rotational graduate scheme (applications due to open in 2021) as well as learning placements throughout the year.
  • Cambridge University Press – host paid internships in their Cambridge, Cape Town and New York offices, mainly in the summer although occasional openings are available throughout the year. They also offer work experience placements.
  • Penguin Random House UK – run a paid 10 week summer internship programme and voluntary 2 week work experience placements throughout the year (please note, these programmes did not run in Summer 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions).
  • Oxford University Press – run a summer internship scheme with applications normally opening in December.
  • Hatchette – offer an 8 week internship scheme and 1 week work experience placements.
  • Bloomsbury Publishing - offer a paid 3 month internship scheme across their Children’s and Adult Marketing and Publicity and Editorial teams. They normally have 4 intakes per year; in January, April, July and October. However, the internship scheme is currently suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Blake Friedmann – offer 3 month internships.
Specialist recruitment agencies

Specialist agencies can have quality industry knowledge and so perhaps help you understand roles and improve your applications. When engaging agencies, it is best to find a named person(s) to keep in contact with regularly, so don’t sign up to more agencies than you can manage, and keep them informed if you are no longer looking for work.

Diversity opportunities and relevant information

Many organisations are proactive in recruiting students and graduates from diverse backgrounds, see below for examples.

  • Creative Access – social enterprise dedicated to recruiting under-represented talent in the creative industries, including book, newspaper and magazine publishing. The website includes a list of opportunities ranging from work experience to senior roles, some of which are restricted to those from under-represented groups in the industry.
  • HarperCollins Publishers – run ‘The Traineeship’, a twelve-month rotational traineeship for Black, Asian and non-white minority ethnic aspiring publishers.
  • Hatchette – offer a twelve month traineeship to individuals from a BAME background with the opportunity to gain experience within the publishing industry.
  • Blake Friedmann – run ‘The Carole Blake Open Doors Project’, which offers 2 weeks of fully funded work shadowing to applicants from backgrounds not well represented in publishing.
  • Penguin Random House UK: The Scheme - a paid six month traineeship open to applicants from a BAME (Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic) community, and/or from a socio-economically disadvantaged background (please note, these programmes did not run in summer 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions).
  • Penguin Random House UK: Starting out in Publishing – Penguin Random House UK have partnered with Creative Access to launch a virtual mentoring scheme for individuals who Identify as being from an under-represented group in publishing.
  • The Spare Room Project – Get advice from someone in the industry who’ll share their career experiences and support you in yours, in a one-off 30-minute online chat.

To investigate the attitudes and processes of employers, you can review their equality and diversity policies and check if they are a Disability Confident employer or are recognised as a ‘Mindful Employer’ or as a ‘Stonewall’s Diversity Champion’.