Career journeys: working in Publishing
Since graduating in 2016, Lauren Grieve has been working in publishing. Here she shares her experiences and tips for students looking for a career in the sector.
MA (Hons) English Literature
|Year of Graduation
What is your current role and what does your work involve?
After graduating, I completed a 4 week internship at Luath Press, an independent publisher based in Edinburgh. Thanks to the hands on nature of the placement, I was able to work on upcoming books and contribute to the publication process. A vacancy for Media and Events Coordinator came up at the company; I was interviewed and offered the job! Prior to this role I was working in retail, which allowed me to undertake the unpaid internship.
My role involves creating publicity campaigns for our upcoming titles, liaising with journalists and reviewers to secure media coverage and reviews of the books. I also manage our busy events schedule, arranging book launches and festival appearances for our authors, and planning or managing our five day mini author showcase festival in the Fringe.
I find the events side of my role particularly rewarding as it’s a chance to see the book out in the real world! For all our hard work in the office behind the scenes, it is great to see people engaging with the book and author.
What experience do you feel helped you to get to your current position?
The internship prior to my role at the company was invaluable for getting an insight into the industry. Having the knowledge and passion from my English Literature degree helped me to offer insightful opinions, and still helps me in my day-to-day role.
Simple experiences such as spending time in bookshops, libraries and on social media in order to keep up to date with current trends, different genres and what was exciting in the industry were also really advantageous - real, everyday knowledge like this can help to show a passion, identifying trends and offering informed opinions on what will help our next title sell in the market.
Using the research skills developed during my degree have really helped in my current role, especially on the PR side. Searching through a book for a news angle that will be of interest for journalists, finding the sales hook that will set the book apart from others in a similar vein all requires a bit of research and curation. Being able to effectively edit my own work to find the style of writing that will appeal to different news outlets comes from the discipline of a dissertation, for example.
In hindsight, it would have been useful to have been involved in a publishing society, like The Student newspaper, while studying so I would encourage anyone to make the most of the extracurricular societies.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in your area of work?
READ! An obvious answer, but read as often and, more importantly, as broadly across genres as you can. This will give you a clear overview of how the trends are developing across the industry. This doesn’t necessarily mean a huge spend on books - making use of your local library is a huge plus. Publishers also work with libraries to distribute new titles outside of the bookshop market, and often host free events.
The Society of Young Publishers is a volunteer-run organisation for those in and interested in the publishing industry. They hold regular panels, workshops and networking events that are open to members and non-members alike across the UK. Lots of people working in the industry are part of the SYP, so you never know who you might meet!