Want to Work in Traditional Publishing? Here are 4 Tips to Help!

There are two very common questions I get working in publishing. The top question is something along the lines of: I have a book idea, how do I get published? and second is How do I get into traditional publishing as a career? There are plenty of blogs, articles, and conferences that address the first one (maybe one day I’ll write my own), so I thought I would write a few thoughts on the second question!

The very quick version of how I got into publishing is this: I was working in another industry in marketing while also managing a very active book blog (when they were much more relevant). After a few years of blogging, I decided I wanted to really pursue publishing as a career. Over the course of about two years (applying to several positions every quarter), I eventually applied for the right position with WaterBrook/Penguin Random House and moved to Colorado Springs for a marketing position there!

So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a job right off the bat. It can be competitive, but there are also so many great opportunities! If you want to hear more about my experience, you can from my podcast interview on Ink & Soul here.

I hope at least one of these tips is helpful and good luck on your publishing career and journey! 

1. Sign up for any and all job alerts. Publishing Houses will often have alert sign-ups on their job boards. Create an account and set up alerts! I also encourage you to get to know the imprint and company you are applying for. What types of books do they publish? Have you read them? If you get the opportunity to interview, knowing the books they publish will only benefit you.

  • If you’re interested in Christian publishing, ECPA has a job board here.
  • Penguin Random House (and I’m sure other companies do too!) is always updating open job positions here.
  • Follow the publishing companies you’re interested in on social media and LinkedIn, as they’ll often post positions there.

2. Internships. If you are in a place to pursue an internship, this is an excellent way to gain experience in the publishing world. Many are paid as well, so a very much worthy path to pursue. If interested in what Penguin Random House has to offer, you can start here.

3. Make relationships. Much like this is important for authors, I think this is also important on the publishing end.

  • I want to highlight that these should be genuine ones. Comment, engage, and connect. When I was book blogging, I got to know publishing houses as brands, but also quite a few people who worked at the companies as well. I remember when I was getting ready for my interview for my job at WaterBrook, I was able to reach out to a publishing friend for some advice. We had a friendship for years at that point and I am still so thankful for her insight. Try to avoid jumping into DMs and asking for all the advice right after connecting on a social platform. I know so many of us in publishing would love to help all the time, but often these messages simply get lost in the chaos of the internet. 
  • Not sure where to start? Which publishing houses are you interested in? Are there employees who are active on social to follow? Penguin Random House employees will use #TeamPRH on personal accounts and social posts.

4. What are you doing that is publishing adjacent? If you are in an industry that isn’t publishing, you can still develop and gain experience in other ways that will show off your love of books. 

  • Have you been or are you a part of: Launch teams? Bookstagram? BookTok? Podcasts? Youtube? 
  • As I mentioned, I was in a completely different industry, but many skills crossed over and I was able to show my love of books and related marketing skills through my publishing adjacent work. 
  • Whatever you do, when done well, will catch the eyes of hiring managers.

I truly hope this is encouraging and will help! Feel free to drop any follow up questions in the comments. And if you’re a fellow publishing colleague, would love to hear from you as well!