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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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.

Upskilling in Lockdown

With lots of internships and grad schemes being cancelled over the last few months due to COVID, many people have found themselves with a lot more free time, for better or for worse. This has led to an online push to use this time effectively, and improve yourself and your skillset. While this mentality can be slightly short sighted at times, I thought I would put together a list of things that I’ve been doing since I finished university and have found myself with more time on my hands.

Taking an online course.

  • Since finishing university I’ve been completing an online proofreading and editing course. I’m hoping to begin a career in publishing and so while I have the time I decided to improve my skillset for that industry in any way that I could. It will look great on my CV and be a worthwhile use of this summer.

Getting relevant, remote work experience.

  • I am currently very fortunate to be able to live at home rent-free until I am able to get a job. This means that I’ve been able to work remotely as an unpaid contributing writer for The Publishing Post, increasing my relevant experience and continuing to use and improve relevant skills.

Job Applications

  • Having more free time has meant that I can devote more time to not only looking for jobs but also applying to them. I can give cover letters and personal statements more time and consideration than I would have before and therefore increase my chances of success.


  • No more university work has meant more time for me to commit to this blog. I am trying to post more regularly and improve my content in the hope that more people will enjoy reading it.

Making the most of it

  • Finally, I am making the most of this and enjoying some time off before I start working full time. I currently am neither working nor studying and so I am simply making the most of some time off before entering the work force and having significantly less free time.

Don’t Panic!

There will be more internships.

Given the current state of the world publishing internships and work experience opportunities are being postponed or cancelled left, right and centre, leaving many people desperately trying to break into the industry at a bit of a loss. I am currently one of those people.

I was supposed to have an in person interview for a summer internship with Wiley Publishers, which was initially cancelled, only to recently receive an email informing me that they are no longer able to run their internship scheme over the summer. Naturally, this was somewhat expected with ever increasing restrictions on travel and requirements for us to isolate ourselves and although I completely understand the need for this and definitely think it’s the right decision, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed upon reading the email. Just as I was at the point of submitting applications and hopefully securing a role within publishing everything has been brought to a stand still.

However, I have decided there is no point in being all doom and gloom about it and instead just keep on working towards my goal of editing within book publishing. I am going to keep applying for everything I can, no matter how many schemes have to be cancelled, and at least view it as a way of improving my applications and cover letters, because ultimately there will always be more internships.

After all, when you do not manage to get one of the coveted spots of an internship you have still benefited from going through the application process and the same still holds true in this case. As much as I had hoped not to have to move back with my parents after I graduate in July, we are living in unpredictable times and if it takes me slightly longer to secure a role in publishing then that’s fine.

Besides I have still seen many publishing houses advertising roles with the hope that some people will be able to start from home and you can guarantee that I will be applying to as many of those as possible. Plus Wiley have said they’ll be in touch about potential autumn job opportunities for those who graduate this summer and were successful in reaching the interview stage of the internship scheme, so perhaps this will all work out for the best anyway.

Applying for Internships

So if you read my last post about publishing, you’ll know that I’ve been stuck doing nothing for a while, unable to start applications or make progress towards entering the industry. However, those days are finally over and I am now officially sending off my CV and submitting applications to internships. Therefore, I thought I would post my top tips for applying for publishing internships.

1: Tailor you Cover Letter

This may seem like an obvious one but you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of not only tailoring your cover letter to publishing, but also ensuring that it is specifically written for the company you’re applying to. Make sure you research the publishing house, what their goal is and what kind of books they publish.

2: Keep Track of your Applications

You will be applying to so many different roles at different places that this is absolutely crucial. Personally, I have a spreadsheet listing which publishing houses or literary agencies I’ve applied, what the role or scheme was I applied for, key dates and salary information and I cannot overstate how helpful this has been. It has meant that I haven’t missed important application deadlines, I know approximately when I’ll hear back about different roles and that I can check the details of each scheme or job.

3: Know what your Skills are

You should be able to list at least five skills that you have that would be helpful for the internship your want. You will absolutely have built skills from a variety of different things and being confident in these is so important. It’s fine if you don’t think you have best IT skills but you may have impressive commercial awareness or ability to problem solve.

4: Don’t Underestimate the Value of your Experiences

When considering the experiences you have make sure you don’t dismiss the ones that you don’t think are relevant to the industry. Just because the you did work experience in a completely different industry doesn’t mean that you didn’t learn transferable skills. I have taken level 1 British Sign Language classes throughout my final year of university and whilst this may not seem especially relevant to publishing, it does show that I like to take on new challenges and gave me insight into the issues faced by the Deaf community whilst expanding my ability to communicate with people.

5: Don’t give up

You will get rejections and it will feel disheartening but this should not stop you. Most internships within the publishing industry are very competitive, making it a very hard industry to get into. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible, you just have to keep applying and taking on board any feedback you get. Periodically review your CV, look for every opportunity you can to build your experience and don’t give up. Eventually you will be successful.

Entering Publishing: Step 1

The Art of Doing Nothing

I thought I’d make this post to kick off documenting my journey into publishing, even though it hasn’t exactly started yet. I am currently half way through my final year at university, hoping to graduate in July 2020 (fingers crossed) and very on edge about having no concrete plans in place beyond that.

That’s not to say I don’t know what I want to be doing come July, I just currently have no significant way of getting there. Once I graduate I am hoping to be starting either an entry-level job or some form of internship within or related to the book publishing industry, but this is easier said than done.

Not only is this a very competitive industry to get into, but it also means that because I can’t start working until June 2020, I can’t start applying for jobs before April 2020 and this is proving incredibly frustrating. While everyone around me is applying for grad schemes or masters programmes, I feel very much like I am sitting on my hands, playing the waiting game and trying not to check for available jobs that I cannot start applying for yet.

I have always been someone who likes to plan and prepare to the nth degree and I am definitely struggling with the art of doing nothing but waiting. However, in the mean time I am still trying to do what I can, even if it’s not a lot. I have started this blog, which has not only proven to be a great motivator to find more time to read but I am also really enjoying doing, signed up to edit for my university’s newspaper, I researched various different internships I can eventually apply for, created a LinkedIn to keep up to date with job opportunities and started following the twitter accounts of different publishing houses and literary agents to get all their news, both with regard to career options and general changes within the industry.

While this may sound like a fair bit to be getting on with, it unfortunately hasn’t satisfied my need to know what I’ll be doing in 6 months time, other than potentially having to move back home for a bit. So for now I can do nothing but wait, and hope that when I can apply the wait will pay off and getting in my applications early will increase my odds.