Before you can decide what type of job position to apply for in the publishing industry, you must understand the publishing process—from submission to shelves to sales. As you look at the steps of the publishing process, you notice which steps of the process seem the most attractive (or which steps are within your skill range). Without general knowledge of the publishing process, it is difficult to understand where a position fits into the process; that lack of understanding then keeps you from making a firm decision about which job positions would be the best fit. This principle became clear as I researched the following three sources.
When searching for a job position in the publishing world, words such as “sell-through” or “publicist” may seem foreign to you if you are new to the industry, or the terms may not be understandable in the context of publishing. To remedy this, you need to research and understand the publishing process. In the WritersDigest.com article “Publishing 101: What You Need to Know,” the author, Jerry D. Simmons, a veteran in the writing and publishing industry, gives a basic overview of a book’s publishing process from its acquisition to its distribution. Though the article is geared towards authors, anyone who is interested in publishing would benefit from reading it. Once you have read articles like this and understand the publishing process better, it’s easier to decide which parts of the process seem the most applicable to your situation or your interests. Then the search for different publishing positions becomes more promising and less confusing.
After you gain a general understanding of the publishing process, the job-position search and research begins. The Publisher’s Lunch Job Board's offers on PublishersMarketplace.com are a useful place to start. This job board provides a snapshot of who publishing companies are hiring. For instance, many companies are currently searching for applicants with managerial skills or experience in graphic design. Some of these positions may fit your skillset, and some of them might not. You may have training as an editor but might not find many job positions labeled “editor.” In such cases, you should look at individual job positions more closely—it may be surprising how many positions still fit your skillset even under a different job-position title.
This job board (and others) can help by allowing you to tie the job positions back to publishing process outlined in the Jerry D. Simmons article. You could look at a job description on the job board and note where that position would fall in the publishing process. You could see that a publicist position would fall in the “Marketing” category as described by Simmons’ article. Even a sentence like “publicity is the art of generating print and media pieces about an author and [his or her] book” could make you think, “That sounds interesting. I want to look into that more.”
After you have a general understanding of the publishing process, you may want more information about how the different publishing positions fit into the company. Woll and Raccah’s Publishing for Profit has a flowchart on page 35 that shows the hierarchy of positions in a publishing house, including less well-known positions like Purchasing Manager and Rights/Special Sales Manager. This chart can be helpful if you are searching for job positions requiring skills that are outside the main writing/editing/design realm, such as coding or advertising or accounting.
None of these resources is superior; they complement each other. Each is useful for people researching jobs in the publishing industry, though each source’s level of usefulness depends on the experience of the researcher. The order that I have listed the articles in is ideal for newcomers to the publishing industry. You can decide how much you already have experience with based on this information that I have written, then determine which source(s) to utilize in your research.
“Publishers Lunch Job Board.” PublishersMarketplace.com. Accessed January 9, 2020. https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/jobs/index.cgi.
Simmons, Jerry D. “Publishing 101: What You Need to Know.” WritersDigest.com, September 2009. https://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/business-legal-matters/publishing-101-what-you-need-to-know.
Woll, Thomas and Dominique Raccah. Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-Line Management for Book Publishers. Chicago Review Press, 2014.