The SYP Conference 2014: Third Instalment of Conference Summary Series

More from the SYP Conference here. Read ahead to hear some really helpful hints and tips on creating a positive impact in your job applications and big social media no-no’s. Also, hear from some really successful publishers today talk about how the traditional publishing role is changing and what skills the modern day publisher needs.


Editor and Agent Stream’s Career Workshop

Digital jobs in Publishing

‘How they earn their 10%: The changing of a literacy agency’

Editor and Agent Steam Career Workshop

The seminar had Cathy Wells, HR Director of Hachette and Sarah Juckes, Communications Manager for Completely Novel talking about the best ways for candidates to build up their work experiences and tailor their applications to publishing houses. Completely Novel is the unique self-publishing platform and book community, specialising in print-on-demand publishing and is a smaller company whilst Hachette is one of the largest, and most successful publishers with 4 imprints - Franklin Watts, Hodder Children’s Books, Orchard Books and Wayland thus giving the seminar a good insight into applying to a large publishing corporations as well as smaller ones and the different ways to get into publishing.

Cathy described her own journey into HR within publishing, explaining how she started out at the bottom as a HR assistant in a non-publishing related company before working her way up and then entering the publishing industry later on in her HR career. Sarah Juckes then went on to explain her route. She started off as an assistant for a tiny publishing company and then learnt from being in a small office a variety of different skills and from there progressed within her career as she had gained a valuable understanding of how the publishing process is run, this is something that many notable publishing professionals have done as it has given them a varied and strong career.

They then both gave advice for candidates regarding their applications to publishing houses generally. So if you are a candidate looking to apply to a publishing house, here are some tips and pieces of advice-

  • Publishing houses are looking for all-rounder candidates ideally with digital marketing and    production skills, if you have these skills you will be heads above your peers and more likely to get the job because whether you like it or not, that is the way that publishing is heading as Andrew Walker in the Digital Jobs seminar explained. Do a short course in HTML coding, learn about Google Analytics, get some experience working on eBooks, they will love you!
  • Make a skills section on your CV so that recruiters can see your software, language and general skills clearly.
  • Administration skills, as always, are key within any publishing role so developing strong administration skills will give you a better advantage of getting your foot in the door. Publishing houses are looking for candidates that can come in and hit the ground running. Sarah Juckes explained that when looking for interns she wants someone who can just get stuck in and get the job done and good administration will help you do that.
  • Make sure that you demonstrate your love for publishing and reading, don’t just state it in a CV. Attend book launches and publishing events, network,set up review blogs, organise events, demonstrate that passion. Everybody can say that they love books and publishing but not everybody can show it. Also, a word of warning - edit your social media presence. Recruiters will social media stalk you so let them see the reviews on the books you’ve read, not how many jagerbombs you can consume in 5 minutes…
  • Proof-read and spell-check your CVs and covering letters! It’s a simple mistake but if you are applying to publishing jobs, how do you think they will receive these mistakes? Tailor your CVs and covering letter to the company and their products. Don’t say you can do the job, show how you can do the job through the skills you’ve gained through other experiences and make it unique! HR will read lots of CVs so make your CV be the one that stands out for the right reasons.

Digital Jobs in Publishing
Tom Bonnick, Digital Project and Marketing Manger from Nosy Crow and George Walker, Head of Digital at Hachette hosted this seminar, discussing how digital is changing the face of publishing.

Tom Bonnick focused on Nosy Crow’s fantastic and innovative new apps such as Flip Flap Farm and Shifty Mcgifty and Slippery Sam and how this supports and enhances their print products through bundling.

George Walker talked around the theme of the ‘perfect publisher’ with regards to digital publishing emphasizing the need for candidates to be ‘all-rounders’ with an understanding of the whole publishing process in order to ‘assess the best way to communicate content’ be that through print, video streams, online, eBooks, apps or whatever comes to be the newest and more relevant form of communication. He explained that traditional job definitions were being blurred with Editors tweeting to generate publicity and Marketers commissioning marketing content, so a successful publisher in today’s industry will have to have an understanding of all of this. This related back to what Sarah Juckes said about her own career progression, it may be that starting off in a small publisher will give you the skills to be an ‘all-rounder’ and work out the best way to communicate that content.

‘How they earn their 10%: The changing of a literacy agency’
In this seminar, Charlie Campbell, agent at Kingsford Campbell Literary & Marketing Agents, Norah Perkins, agent at Curtis Brown and Kate Rizzo, rights agent at Greene & Heaton spoke about how the role of the agency is changing. In the past, they explained that the agency used to be seen as a deal-maker between publishing house and author but now the agency has a much more editorial and marketing role in the process. They advise authors on changes to their work, work out the marketing angle for the author to pitch to publishing house editors as well as almost as being a liaison and building relationships between author and publishing house. The fast-paced exciting nature of Literary Agencies and the more autonomy and control over your own job you have as an agent as opposed to an editor, makes the Literary Agent a career path that editorial candidates ought to consider.

All in all, a fantastic event hosted by the wonderful Society of Young Publishers. The Inspired Selection team thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone there and learning about the exciting avenues the industry is progressing down. Stay tuned for more blogs on the SYP conference and if you are a graduate looking to get into the industry, why not send your CV to our Graduate Consultant, Rachel Martin –