To Study or To Not Study? That is the Question!

Choosing a Master’s in Publishing

So when it comes to completing a masters in publishing, there is much debate surrounding whether or not they help you to get into the industry. Since there is no requirement to even have an undergraduate degree when applying for an entry level job in publishing, it can seem unnecessary to study up to master’s level prior to starting work. And it is unnecessary. Many people have very successful publishing careers without and MA. However, this does not mean it’s not helpful or beneficial, and so I thought I would talk through why I’ve made the decision to begin studying an MA in publishing in January 2021.

One of the main benefits of studying a master’s is the opportunity to network, meeting others looking to enter the industry and specialists currently working in the industry. The publishing industry is very focused on networking, with the ability to do so very often being listed as a crucial means of entering into this competitive industry. Making these connections will be a lot easier when studying publishing alongside others pursuing a similar career path and having the chance to attend panels, events of workshops hosted by experts.

Another benefit of studying a master’s is that I will gain a more thorough understanding of the industry. I currently only have a bare-bones understanding of the different roles within publishing, based on the different departments, so studying a master’s will also help me to gain a clearer idea of specific roles that I would like to pursue. I, like many others, am drawn to working in editorial, however this is a competitive section within a competitive industry and I definitely wish to learn more about other roles before committing myself to what is essentially, the most ovbious choice.

Additionally, a master’s course will hopefully equip me knowledge and skills I will go on to use throughout my career. For instance, one of the modules I will study is The Business of Publishing which will, among other things, teach me how to write a business plan so that if I at some stage wished to set up my own press, I would know how to go about it. I will learn how to put together a marketing strategy, editorial plan and book proposals, all of which a key in pursuing publishing.

Finally, I should say that key contextual factors have pushed me to start my master’s sooner than initially planned. After graduating I originally planned to apply for jobs and internships in publishing for a year and then consider studying a master’s if I were consistently unsuccessful. However, both COVID-19 and the current recession mean that unemployment is up and the job market is oversaturated with people more qualified than I am. Therefore, rather than waiting to start a master’s I’ve decided to start it on a part-time basis in January 2021 and hopefully, once I finish in 2023 I will be more equiped to enter the job market and stand a better chance of being able to get into such a comeptitive industry.

Overall, when it comes to the decision of whether to study a master’s in publishing, it really is an individual decision, and there is no right or wrong answer. There is by no means a requirement to have a master’s, or a degree of any kind, in order to get an entry-level role in publishing so if it’s not the route for you then do not worry, it won’t stop you pursuing a publishing career. However, if you are struggling to kick-start your career or get that first internship it might be an option to consider, particularly if, like me, you enjoy academic study and feel that the extra knowledge would increase your confidence in your own abilities.

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