Jobs in Books: the different roles and responsibilities in book publishing
Thinking about a career change?
Simply love books and want to make a living out it?
There are LOADS of different roles and responsibilities in publishing! Whether you’re an aspiring publisher or are looking for a career change, here are just a few of them…
The editorial department of a publishing house is responsible for acquiring, editing and proofreading books. Within the editorial department, there are a number of key roles:
Assistant Editor / Junior Editor
The Assistant Editor is an entry-level role that progresses into the role of Junior Editor. This is an ideal position for English Literature/Language graduates who have a keen eye for detail and a passion to gain experience in the book editing process. Assistant and Junior Editors support the editorial department with proofreading and checking for accuracy, researching and suggesting new ideas. They may also help with general administration duties, such as monitoring schedules and taking minutes at meetings.
Editor / Senior Editor
Editors undertake line-editing checks such as sentence and plot structure, narrative transitions and monitoring language-use, and copyediting duties such as checking grammar, writing quality and plot accuracy. Editors with proven experience can progress into Senior Editors, where they can also work on acquisitions, contracts and negotiations.
Managing Editor / Editorial Manager / Editorial Director
This person manages the editorial team and oversees all the editorial processes and working schedules. They work closely with the Publisher on submissions, commissions and acquisitions of new books and manages the company’s network of authors and literary agents.
The design department of a publishing house is responsible for the look and visual brand of the and publishing company and their books. Within the design department, there are a number of key roles:
Design Assistant / Junior Designer
The Design Assistant is an entry-level role, ideal for a Design or Illustration graduate. Day-to-day duties include making changes and corrections to design files, producing visual mock-ups and assisting the department with admin duties. Previous experience working with Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator is ideal in this role – once a Design Assistant gains experience in the department and software, they can progress to the role of Junior Designer.
Designer / Senior Designer
Designers are responsible for seeing titles through the design process until they go into production. This involves a wide range of duties, including cover design, typesetting and visually proofreading the book collaboratively with the editorial team. Designers can progress into the role of Senior Designers, where they can work more closely with the department’s manager to source illustrators and develop their own design concepts.
Head of Design / Art Director
The Head of Design manages the design team’s tasks and schedules and also manages the company’s network of freelance illustrators and illustration agencies. They are responsible for the look and feel of a book and allocating the right illustrator to a project. This position can progress to the role of Art Director, whereby they are also responsible for the company visual branding, too.
The sales team are responsible for the sales of the publisher’s books and work with sales agents, distributors and bookseller around the world. Within the sales department, there are a number of key roles:
The role of Sales Assistant is an entry-level position that supports the day-to-day duties of the sales team. This may include putting together seasonal sales presentations of new titles, tracking daily orders and generating sales reports. They can also undertake general admin duties, such as taking minutes at meetings and collating files upon request.
Sales Executive / Senior Sales Executive / Sales Manager
Sales Executives are responsible for managing customer accounts, converting new leads into sales and delivering market insights to the wider company. They visit trade sales fairs in London and travel internationally, too, to meet with potential new sales partners. With experience, Sales Executives can progress into Senior Sales Executives and Sales Managers whereby they are responsible for managing some of the company’s top accounts and distributors. They can be specialised into different areas, including UK sales, international and export sales, special sales or digital sales.
Head of Sales / Sales Director
Management positions in sales are responsible for the company’s sales strategy and cash flow forecasting. It is their job to manage the results of the sales team and best decide how to grow the company and its revenue, by developing its relationship with distributors and sales partners.
The role of Publisher requires knowledge and experience of editorial content, sales, market trends, finance and strategy. Alongside meeting with potential new sales partners at trade fairs, it is their responsibility to monitor trends and curate books to put together a publishing programme that appeals to all the markets and territories the company is present in. They manage the company’s wider budgets, P&Ls and finances and work collaboratively with all the other departments.
The rights team are responsible for managing and selling the rights that the publisher holds to develop a book or author’s brand beyond the book and in new formats and territories. Some key roles in rights include:
The role of Rights Assistant is an entry-level position that supports the day-to-day duties of the rights and permissions team. This may include putting together seasonal presentations of new titles, submitting requested files and researching market trends. They can also undertake general admin duties, such as taking minutes at meetings and booking transport and accommodation for work trips.
Foreign Rights Executive / Senior Rights Executive / Rights Manager
Foreign Rights Executives are responsible for managing relationships with foreign publishers and rights agents, converting new leads into sales and delivering international market insights to the wider company. They attend trade rights fairs in Frankfurt, Bologna, Shanghai (and more) to meet with publishers to sell translation rights into foreign languages to expand the publisher’s reach into new territories. With experience, Foreign Rights Executives can progress to Senior Rights Executives and Rights Managers where they may be responsible for a wider range of rights (e.g. TV and film rights, theatre rights, licensing, etc) and manager some of the company’s top territories and rights clients.
Head of Rights / Rights Director
The Head of Rights is a management position that is responsible for the company’s rights sales strategy and cash flow forecasting. Alongside attending trade rights fairs to meet with potential new partners, it is their job to manage the rights team and their sales results and work alongside the Sales Director to best decide how to grow the company and its revenue by developing its relationship with rights agents and other partners.
Marketing and Publicity Department
The marketing and publicity department are responsible for raising awareness and visibility of a book and author with their target audience. Some roles in marketing and publicity include:
Marketing and Publicity Assistant / Marketing Assistant / Publicity Assistant
The role of Marketing and Assistant is an entry-level role that would be ideal for a Marketing or Communications graduate. Marketing and Publicity Assistants can be responsible for creating and scheduling the company’s social media calendar, assisting with marketing and publicity campaigns and carrying out market research and competitor research. Marketing and Publicity Assistants can progress into Executive positions whereby they work more closely on campaigns.
Marketing Executive / Senior Marketing Executive
The role of Marketing Executive is to plan, schedule and execute marketing campaigns to launch a book into the market. They work towards a marketing budget to create the best plan to reach their intended audiences. They may also work closely with the design department to design and product visual promotional materials, such as bookmarks, badges and website banners, to support a campaign. They may also work on public events, bookshop tours, social media and digital advertising in their campaigns. Marketing Executives also work closely with the sales team to produce B2B sales material and the editorial team on copywriting. With experience, Marketing Executives can progress into Senior Marketing Executives, whereby they are responsible for more high-profile campaigns and can work more closely on the company’s marketing strategy.
Publicist / Senior Publicist
Publicists are responsible for planning, scheduling and executing campaigns to generate targeted publicity to increase an author’s profile and raise awareness of their book(s). They regularly communicate with journalists, reviewers, bloggers, influencers and the press to generate interest and create a buzz with the public. Publicists also share press releases with their partners and submit books and authors for relevant prizes and awards.
Head of Marketing and Publicity / Marketing and Publicity Manager / Marketing and Publicity Director
The Marketing and Publicity Manager is responsible for the company’s communications strategy to its marketing and publicity partners, sales clientele, consumers and the wider public. They manage the marketing and publicity team to ensure the smooth and timely delivery of public information to the right people at the right time.
Production and Operations Department
The production and operations team are responsible for ensuring the departments’ schedules and publishing workflow run smoothly from beginning to end. Some production and operations roles include:
Publishing Assistant / Operations Assistant
The role of Production Assistant is an entry-level position, ideal for someone who’s interested in a career in publishing, perhaps with previous office experience. They assist with a wide range of tasks around the company, including sending files upon request, monitoring department schedules, processing invoices and general proofreading. They may also undertake general office duties, such as taking minutes at meetings and arranging travel and accommodation. It’s a great way to understand the company and learn the publishing workflow before progressing in the company.
Production Controller / Production Specialist
The role of the Production Controller is ideal for someone with an interest in product design and experience working with manufacturers and suppliers. It is their responsibility to negotiate with printers, schedule the publishing workflow and ensure files are delivered to printers or suppliers on time. They work with different printed and digital book formats, including paperback, hardback, board books, ebooks, audiobooks, and more. Production Controllers can specialise in a particular area, such as digital formats or novelty formats.
Head of Operations / Operations Manager
The Head of Operations oversees the publishing supply chain and ensures the smooth and timely management of the internal workflow. They also manage logistics, inventory and stock levels to ensure there is always enough stock to meet the demands of the sales team. They are also responsible for reacting and responding quickly to delays and changes in the supply change. The Head of Operations may also manage metadata and ensure the right information goes to the right data partners at the right time.