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Entry-level roles in publishing

Entry-level posts outside of editorial

There are other important roles in book publishing besides editorial. We explain what each of these involves and how you can begin your publishing career in the area.


Marketing is an essential part of the publishing industry. Marketers are responsible for ensuring the target audience of a publication know that it exists via advertising, promotion, and sending samples out to key contacts. They often attend conferences and book fairs to sell books and they also carry out market research to gauge demand for products.


Book publicists ensure an author’s work is plugged to raise awareness of its existence. Traditional techniques include coverage in newspapers, television and radio, review of the work in literary reviews, and arranging book-signing events; the internet is now also being increasingly used as a tool. Typically those wanting to work in this field start off as assistants before moving on to coordinator and then director roles.


Good design is essential: a good cover attracts readers; but designers also lay out text and images to ensure maximum impact and readability. Designers often start out on a freelance basis before being taken on as full-time members of staff. An internship is also often a good way into this role. A degree in design will be helpful in generating a good portfolio that attracts the attention of potential employers; an interest in publishing and knowledge of IT packages now involved in design will also help.


Staff in sales sell books to retailers such as bookshops or online concerns; they are often assigned a specific sector or geographical area and they build up good relationships with these allotted retailers to persuade them that their publisher’s books should be bought. Excellent skills in communication and persuasion are essential; in addition, sales staff in publishing often deal with well-read buyers and it is essential that they show them that they too are highly literate and knowledgeable to make sales successfully. A degree is usually essential; work experience gained in either a publishing or sales environment will also be useful.

Rights and contracts

Rights of authors and publishers need protecting: authors are reliant on their work for income and publishers invest large sums of money in the development, production and distribution of books. An important area of work therefore is the monitoring and enforcement of such rights, and the construction of contracts that define these. This role requires a detailed knowledge of copyright law in the relevant jurisdiction and this can be gained through working alongside more senior staff in a rights and contracts department, in a role such as that of an assistant.

Print buying

Print buyers procure the physical materials necessary to make a book and are therefore responsible for dealing with printers to ensure that books are produced at an acceptable cost. They need to acquire knowledge and contacts within the industry, and have good negotiating skills to strike the best deals. A degree may not be essential to work in this position but it may give you the edge when applying for jobs; relevant work experience will also help.