Insight into publishing

There are so many publishing MA students and graduates wanting to know more about life in the industry that it seemed like a good idea to get everyone together, and have people who actually work in publishing offer the insight. This was the aim of the Hachette Group UK's recent Insight into Publishing Day, and I was invited along to be a resident tweeter, using The Bookseller's jobs feed, @Jobsinbooks.

Hachette is a publishing powerhouse, big and jungle-like, but all the divisions came together for the day, ahead of the group's move to a shared office in Victoria. Up on the 14th floor we had a great view, but what were the students looking to learn about working in publishing? As someone who got my role in publishing from a book launch, I was interested to find out if such a day could be informative to these students - they all wanted to consider a career in publishing and had been carefully selected to attend, but would anything come of it, what would they take away?

Students from all over the country had turned up, some travelling from as far as York to be there. Many more wanted to be there, which was evident when I started tweeting using the #InsightintoPublishing hashtag. For them, any one conversation could mean getting a shot at an internship or even a job.

The first panel entitled "Life of a Book" was a way to showcase to the students, who weren't all doing English degrees, that aside from editorial, there are lots of other jobs in publishing to consider, from sales and rights to production. There was a P&L talk, an insight into how departments work together, and an attempt to show that although editorial is the heart of a publishing house, there are other areas too, some of which might be "sexier" than they first appear.

The students that morning had their minds opened and over lunch started to really consider some of the other areas, with rights especially standing out to those with more than one language under their belts. After lunch the questions to the panel flowed and over-ran, ranging from broader industry issues like self-publishing, to specific queries about how to stand out when applying.

Times have changed and ten years ago publishing jobs were easier to obtain. The panel were honest in their answers and said enthusiasm and networking still counted towards being successful in getting a job. The question of digital came up, but they didn't mean social media - that's how they talk to their friends - they meant coding, a growing area of importance.

After Hachette UK's last event in May, two students secured jobs after an internship, and others have also followed this route. A group of girls that had made the grade sat and told the crowd how they had done it. They all were in their first roles and could relate to the audience immediately, saying how lucky they felt to have got in and how much they loved their jobs.

The questions asked to this panel were more practical and covered working hours, how to stand out and what the social life was like, giving students an insight into assistant-level work where they would most likely start.

I left before the CV workshop started and left with a free copy of David Nicholl's Us - a reminder that publishing is about books, and about selling those books, to build both readers, and profit. It's a business that came across loud and clear to me, and to the new generation about to join the book Industry. Hopefully the students in the room took away useful knowledge of how the industry works – and left behind a strong impression for potential employers.


Maria Vassilopolous is The Bookseller's business development manager. She tweets at @Jobsinbooks