Yesterday was my first time at the London Book Fair, which must be a rite of passage for anyone wanting to work with books. Of course I was only there as an observer, but it was great fun wandering the aisles, watching all the meetings going on at the different publishers’ stands, reading the name badges of everyone who walked past and going ‘ooh, she works for Penguin…. ooh there’s the head of Oxford University Press’ and of course oogling all the gorgeous books. Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is absolutely massive, and it was awe-inspiring to see it filled to the rafters with books!

I was there for two reasons: firstly, I had booked myself a 15 minute free careers consultation with the Bookseller’s (in association with Random House) Careers Centre, and I wanted to go to the seminar the Society of Young Publishers were hosting entitled ‘Getting ahead in UK publishing.

The careers consultation was with a lovely lady from the Human Resources and Recruitment department of Random House, and she gave me some useful tips about my C.V. She also gave me some advice about the advantages and disadvantages of doing a Publishing MA versus trying to get an entry level job through doing back-to-back work experience placements and temp work with agencies like careermoves.com. Personally I’m keen on the idea of doing an MA, because I think it gives you a good overview of the industry and an understanding of the business side of Publishing.

Which is exactly what the message of some of the speakers at the Seminar was, albeit they also admitted doing a further year of study after university isn’t for everybody. The panel included Alison Baverstock, Senior Lecturer at Kingson University, Ros Kindersly, the Managing Director of JFL Search and Selection, a Publishing Recruitment Consultancy, Iain Stevenson, Professor of Publishing at University College London, and Jeremy Trevathan, Publishing director at Pan Macmillan. Their overall message focused on the importance of developing a sense of professionalism and remembering that Publishing is a business that has to make money, it is not just about loving books. They also emphasised the importance of doing as much work experience as possible and of building up a network of contacts as Publishing is a very sociable industry. They also highlighted the variety of roles within Publishing other than Editorial that also provide interesting opportunities – for example, Production, Rights or Marketing – as well as the variety of tasks within any one role. Each project will be different and so you need to be flexible and creative with a wide range of skills and ideas in order to keep up. And if looking for a job, work experience, or applying for a course, make sure your C.V. is immaculate!

It was a useful and informative event, showing the SYP at their best. Alison Baverstock also launched her latest book at the event: How to get a job in Publishing, published by A&C Black, which looks like an excellent source of good information and advice.

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