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Publishing pros give top tips to get into the industry in engaging Masterclass

We know so many of you want to get your foot in the door of the publishing world, so we assembled a fantastic panel for our latest Masterclass from The Bookseller’s Publisher of the Year, Orion Books, to give you all the advice needed to stand out from the crowd. Chaired by Creative Access alumna Tanjiah Islam and featuring another Creative Access alumna, Rhea Kurien, here are the tips you need to thrive in publishing.

Patricia Deever, Publicity Assistant for Orion Books, has been working for the company for two years. She graduated from university and attended the Hachette Insight into Publishing Day where she had an eye-opening experience. It was then that she realised that publishing was the career sector for her. Patricia started as an intern for Hachette and worked in the marketing department before rotating to the children’s editorial department. She secured that traineeship by getting feedback, getting inside knowledge on publishing, being creative with her pitch, showing commercial acumen, and letting her personality shine through.

PR is versatile and Patricia made it clear that “no two days are the same in this role.” Patricia believes that bringing your best to the role and having confidence in your skills and background are also important. While she doesn’t think you necessarily need a master’s degree to progress in publishing, she does think it’s important to “have fun and be creative with your application and make your own opportunities.” When asked about making your application stand out, Patricia said:

“Those applicants who show why they really want to work with us, you can tell when they’ve gone above and beyond in researching their application so it’s specific to Orion, it’s really nice to see.”

Jasdip Nandra is the perfect example of how transferable skills can be truly valued in the publishing industry. Jasdip has a varied background. He studied science and achieved a master’s degree in Chemistry, yet he is now the Finance Analyst for Orion Books. Being a publishing outsider, Jasdip had to learn about the publishing business and discover why it’s “a weird and wonderful world, but a personable area to be in!” When he changed his career, Jasdip had to be adaptable to excel in a new environment. He had to learn about the trade and know what his strengths and weaknesses were. Making contacts from the sector and making himself known was key to his success.

Ultimately it paid off, as Jasdip felt he could apply his existing skillset to his new role well and continue to make new connections. Finance plays a bigger role in publishing than some people may realise but it’s a journey, a process that every book goes through and Jasdip, the skilled problem solver that he is, is there to make sure it runs as smoothly as possible. What does Jasdip think is important to bring to your new publishing role? Life experience. Orion wants to bring in as much life experience and diversity as possible. What have you learned? Who are your contacts? How do you complete your projects? These are driven by your life skills rather than education and that’s the best thing you can bring to your interview.

“Finance is there at the beginning, middle, and end of the project. The book needs to be a viable money maker, we need to ensure the sales info is recorded properly, and at the end we report back on performance.”

Chair of the Masterclass and CA alumna, Tanjiah Islam, is the Marketing Assistant for Orion. Tanjiah was placed by us as an intern at Scribe UK Books and she thought she would become an editor. Then Tanjiah found marketing and she realised that editorial was not for her. After applying for many marketing roles, she landed this one with Orion. Tanjiah put the work in to make her CV and personal statement shine by tailoring her application to this specific role. So, what is it that Tanjiah looks for in your applications? Tanjiah is looking for your passion and research in your applications as well as your communication skills and confidence. She wants to know why you’re the right person for the job and what you would bring to the role and company. Do you know the company’s core values? It’s something you should definitely know and research when applying for a role.

One of Orion’s values is every story matters. Tanjiah really wants to know not only why she should hire you but why she must hire you. An important point to remember from Tanijah is “Your experiences and your voice shape the narrative and understanding of the world, so we need as many different voices as possible in the industry.” As the cool kids say, “trust your sauce!”

“If you’re applying and you look at the what the company does and the company values, how they work and looking at their social media channels, all of that will tailor your application and make you come across as an applicant who is committed to the job.”

Fellow CA alumna, Rhea Kurien was placed by us at Harlequin UK and has since risen to become Digital Editorial Director for Orion Dash. How did she rise to this position? Well, apart from being brilliant, Rhea made sure she networked with colleagues and made sure she was someone people wanted to work with. Before working for Orion, Rhea actually made the decision to leave the publishing industry and work in the charity sector. Books, however, kept calling her name and it wasn’t long before she rejoined the publishing world as an Editorial Assistant before working her way up the career ladder and also becoming Commissioning Editor for Head of Zeus.

Proving there is no harm in asking for help, during her career progression, Rhea reached out to Creative Access for guidance, and we were able to help by finding a mentor who believed in Rhea and saw her potential. Rhea strongly believes that networking in publishing is vital. Whether it’s emailing a potential colleague, complimenting their work, and establishing interests to making friends in the industry, networking is the most important thing you can do. A highlight of being a CA intern for Rhea? Making so many friends!

“People always think that you need to network with those who are senior but networking with your peers is what’s best right now because these people are in the industry with you and they will go on to work with you, you will go on to work for them or they will go on to work for you.”

We are extremely grateful to Patricia, Jasdip, Tanjiah, and Rhea for sharing their knowledge and advice in our Masterclass. Thank you also to those who contributed and took part in the discussion. For those of you who are looking for a role in the publishing sector, be sure to check our opportunities page.

You can read Rhea’s blog for interview tips here.

You can watch the full Masterclass below: