SYP Career Speed Dating

This week the SYP hosted their annual ‘Career Speed Dating’ event, at the gorgeous rooftop of the Hachette offices. It was a fantastic opportunity for candidates to learn all about the different parts of publishing houses from the experts themselves! Attendees were split into groups and were given 15 minute intervals at each table, to learn all about the professionals and ask any burning questions they had; there was a buzz of excitement around the room as everyone spent the evening chatting about their passion – publishing!

We took the opportunity to learn as much as we could, so we thought we would publish some take aways from each of the job areas.


A big player in digital is audiobooks! An interesting insight into the marketing of them is that it differs from traditional trade marketing in that the audience can be completely different. It is marketing to listeners instead of readers and the audience is typically more male! Often due to things like convenience on a commute – so it seems like the tube could be a good place to advertise…


Production are the unsung heroes who are literally putting the book together. They spoke about the balance they try to strike between the departments, for example the cost involved in making the whole book shiny! Numbers is another factor that came up; do you need to be maths savvy to work in production? The short answer is no – you can’t be afraid of the numbers but some common sense goes a long way!


Sales in publishing breaks all the stereotypes of typical sales people – it’s a completely different world, the main thing is to remember that it is books you are selling! The cover design you want to push for may be different depending on whether you are going to be selling to high street retailers or supermarkets – there is lots of creativity involved, and travelling if you start selling internationally!


Rights could be seen as quite similar to sales, as you are selling the rights in the different territories. Rights is also an interesting one as it crosses over into another area of publishing, literary agencies. Another career route to consider, and working in rights could be a great insight into the area of the industry before becoming an agent.


Probably the most popular and well known publishing career route, lots of job envy here! Although it’s important to remember the department is about more than just editing, when you get to commissioning level there’s a lot of pitching and selling! So starting off in Sales could be useful. It is important to always remember that publishing is a business and understanding the commercial side is hugely valuable.


The people who shout about the books! A question was asked how to differentiate between marketing and publicity, and the most traditional way is that marketing is paid for campaigns, and publicity is free – e.g. radio coverage. So the challenge is that you need to convince that your story is the one to be heard above all the others that day.


As mentioned previously, marketing is the paid for campaigns but there is sometimes now a crossover with things like social media offering paid for campaigns. Another thing to mention with marketing is that it is probably one of the best areas for transferable skills – working in marketing elsewhere can be very valuable for the publishing industry.


As a creative industry, design could be seen at the top level of this in which you get to use those skills. Although it is important that you also know what sells and the reasons for this. The designer is given a brief, which would include an outline the format (size and shape), production schedule, information about the content and context of the book. The design of a title is so important – as it is the overall look that could sell.


It was such a brilliant evening discussing ways in which you could get into publishing, what each role actually involves and also to hear so much passion about each department. Chloe Daniell manages our Entry Level desk and found it particularly useful finding out what clients look for when meeting with candidates at similar levels and what really stands out to them.