MA Publishing: The Beginning

A little while before Christmas I mentioned that I would be starting an MA course in Publishing in January 2021. It’s now February 2021, I started my MA and the only way to describe it would be; chaotic. However, the chaos has in no way undermined my enjoyment of this course.

It’s probably of no surprise to anyone that starting a part-time master’s whilst working full-time and also applying for jobs (as my temporary contract rapidly comes to an end) in the middle of a global pandemic is chaos. I probably sound completely mad to some of you and I would probably agree with you. I have found the last few weeks so overwhelming at points that I’ve worried that I have made a terrible mistake. But then I take a deep breath, my girlfriend tells me to calm down and take a coffee break, and I remember that I’m actually really enjoying the course.

Although I might not love spending my evenings and Weekends catching up on seminars and reading, against all odds I do manage to enjoy it. And this speaks to my genuine interest in and love of book publishing.

Now I’ll be the first hold my hands up and say that I wasn’t thrilled when I found out that my first module would be on the marketing and budgeting aspect of publishing (it’s just not my area), yet even this has fascinated me. Whether it’s finding out about storing metadate or the nuances of audience profiling, I’ve honestly enjoying rounding out my knowledge out the industry.

I find it thoroughly rewarding to learn in aid of a concrete career goal (something that was unsurprisingly not present for my Philosophy degree). Whenever I sit down to read my big book on ‘How to Market Books’ I’m usually quite tired, often have a big mug of coffee or tea (read: glass of wine) and only just dredging up the motivation to bother after a full day of work, but somehow I always come across something that draws me into the reading.

All of this is to say that sometimes the madness is worth it. Don’t be put off a master’s degree just because it seems a little daunting. If you have a genuine interest in the subject, then it will almost definitely be a good decision. Obviously, sometimes it will be hard, and you might feel like you’ve made a mistake, but you will also get to learn about something that you love.

If you want to keep reading about my journey with this MA then give this post a like and follow my blog to be notified every time I post.

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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.

Don’t let the Cover Letters get you Down!

So I finished my university course at the end of May, in the midst of lockdown with no definite plans for the foreseeable future. Now it’s been 3 months, lockdown has eased, the UK officially announced it was in recession, I’ve applied for countless jobs…and I still have no definite plans for the foreseeable future.

I am hoping to enter into the publishing industry, ideally within editorial, which is already a highly competitive industry to get into so I was prepared for plenty of rejections before getting an entry level job. However, that means I have also been applying for any other admin-based jobs that I am remotely qualified for and have yet to have any success with this either. And this is slightly demoralising to say the least.

Despite spending every day writing cover letters and filling in applications though, I am trying my best to focus on the positives. Namely, that 3 months isn’t too long to be unemployed for, especially when I’ve only just finished university. Although moving home from a city that I love with nothing going on has made this feel like a long and frustrating change, I keep reminding myself to be patient and not start panicking for a few more months yet.

I also keep telling myself that even if the current recession is said to be one of the worst we’ve had, there are also predictions that we will bounce back quicker because it has been clearly linked to lockdown being implemented in the face of COVID-19. This means that even if there are fewer jobs going around, and more people looking, this hopefully won’t last as long as it could have.

Finally, I still have plenty of options. I am very fortunate to be able to move back home for the time being, and my girlfriend starts a PhD placement in January 2021 so I will hopefully be able to move in with her then. This ultimately means that despite being unemployed I do not need to worry about a place to live for the time being, which is an invaluable privilege. I am degree-educated with a variety of skills which mean that I can widen my search and apply for a fair few jobs.

This just leaves me battling the ever present job hunt fatigue and whilst this is tough I just have to persevere and remember that there are plenty of other people doing the same thing. I remind myself that applying for jobs is achieving something and not the same as doing nothing, because it’s easy to feel like I spend my time doing nothing when I seem to make no progress. Instead, I am using my time as well as I can; finding and applying for any and all jobs I can whilst increasing my relevant experience through voluntary publishing jobs. This means that eventually I will get a job, and in the meantime I just have to try not to let the endless cover letters get me down.