Esme Richardson is an Associate Director at Inspired Selection where she specialises in mid-senior level recruitment for the Professional Publishing Sector.
Q1 What are the alternative sectors to Trade Publishing?
Publishing is such a diverse industry! Whilst Trade Publishing is certainly the most visible part of the industry, there are so many different areas in which to consider including Educational; Academic; Professional and Scientific Technical Medical (STM).
Q2 What skills often found in trade publishing are transferable to other publishing sectors?
We are huge believers in transferable skills and these will really depend on the type of job you are going for!
For example, if you're a marketer these skills are transferable to any other sector in/out of publishing - in a marketing role you would expect to have strong skills in copywriting, email campaigns and analytical skills. If you have been marketing books, this could be transferable to marketing journals, magazines, ebooks and other products. If you are in an editorial role – your copywriting, proofreading and even commissioning skills could be transferable to another area - though it is important that you are able to demonstrate a real passion for what you are working on.
Ultimately - you need to identify what your key strengths are and be able to demonstrate how these will be transferable to other areas of publishing.
Q3 How competitive are jobs in professional, education, academic and STM publishing?
Being publishing roles they are of course still competitive, but there is a lot less competition for these areas of publishing than there are for the Trade sector. Not as many people start off by wanting to enter the STM, Professional, Academic or Educational publishing sectors. However, these are really fascinating sectors for many reasons.
Firstly, salaries do tend to be a little higher! Eg. In STM - this is all about the dissemination of cutting-edge scientific research, which affects everyone all over the world. This sector is fast-paced and big advances in science bleed into the public mind as much as the latest trends in fiction do!
Q4 What are the benefits of working outside of Trade publishing?
The types of material you are working with is so interesting! In STM Publishing you could be developing research materials to cure diseases; in Education you might be developing learning materials for secondary school science students. In Professional Publishing you could be working on technical materials which are used in the field of Engineering or in Academic Publishing you might be publishing materials for university post graduates.
Often, there are less people competing for roles in these sectors and because there are fewer people in the industry there is more opportunity once you are in the roles to progress and further develop.
Q5 How can I find out which sector I am most suited to?
At the end of the day, you have to be passionate about what you do! Research the sectors in detail - each area of publishing is complex and has could have some really interesting opportunities.
Ultimately it depends on the role you want. If it's Editorial then there will be a point where you will struggle to progress in STM without a background in a scientific discipline. Or, if marketing is your passion then your experience would be transferable across all sectors.
Q6 What skills do I need to work in professional publishing compared to working in STM?
Professional publishing is diverse! It could be working with professional publishers in the legal, financial or business space; working with membership bodies and institutions or working on a B2B or B2C magazine publication.
Often, the content within the professional sector is quite technical and this is all aimed at professionals in their field. For STM - if you have a background in a scientific discipline this could be really useful as you will be working with highly detailed scientific, technical and medical materials. From a skills perspective you will need strong communication skills; an incredibly strong eye for detail due to the nature of content you might be working with; and the ability to manage multiple projects - along with a great attitude and enthusiasm for the job!
Q7 Do I need to have academic knowledge of a particular field to work in academic publishing?
It really depends on the type of role you are interested in, but in general no you would not need a specific academic knowledge to work in this sector! When looking for your first publishing job, a scholarly publisher, university press or HE institution, is an inspiring environment in which to soak up knowledge and learn the processes and workflows involved in taking cutting-edge research to the end user.
Scholarly publishing can also be a great segue for a researcher, academic or post-doc student to use their academic knowledge and contacts in another industry. Academic publishing is not dusty tomes and dry journal articles, it is cutting-edge content, industry-leading digital innovation, open access knowledge sharing and is connected and supported by a highly engaged global community of researchers and academics.
Q8 Do I need to have experience working in a school or university to work in education publishing?
Not necessarily! Breaking into this sector are teachers and learning professionals as well as first-level publishing candidates - having experience in using tools in the classroom is an advantage and ELT teaching is often required for roles working in ELT publishing. Educational publishing is such a fast-moving sector - the focus on ever-changing classroom needs, levels and curricula as well as the diversity of learning styles within these, means that it is constantly innovating and there is huge opportunity for publishing.
Q9 What's the best thing about working in professional publishing?
Every business and profession needs content and information in order to function and grow. Whether it's professional education, guidance, or market info there is a huge amount of content created for professionals across all sectors and industries - this is Professional Publishing. Think this sounds too dry or technical for you? Always imagined yourself working on the books you loved as a child or love reading now? Professional Publishing allows you to really make a difference & could go on to help develop hundreds of people's careers.
Q10 Where can I find out more about non-trade publishing?
If you are interested in using your publishing experience in a different part of the industry then do get in touch with Inspired Selection to register and we would love to tell you more about the different sectors. Other great resources are the @SYP_UK, @ipghq and @PublishersAssoc.
Q11 Why do you work in publishing?
I absolutely love the diversity that comes with working in publishing - it is such an amazing industry with so many different sectors, there really is something for everybody! On top of this, the people in this industry are incredibly determined, successful and frankly really nice.
Work in Publishing Week (19th-23rd November 2019) is a week long campaign to celebrate careers in publishing.