Any advice on applying for a publishing postgrad (specifically within the UK)?

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Converse&Roses
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I graduated with a 2:1 in English and Language & Linguistics this June and I have been having issues finding a paid job in editing/publishing just with that degree. Obviously I know that thousands of other UK graduates have more or less the exact same degree as me, so that doesn't help either. All I've managed to get within the past six months that's actually somewhat related to a career in publishing is some editorial volunteer work and an unpaid internship with a publishing house in London that only lasted one month. So, I think the next logical step would be to apply for a masters in publishing.

I've managed to come up with a list of courses that I would like to apply to within the UK, but I would like to make a shortlist within that. This is what I have at the moment:

1. Publishing MA at UAL
2. Publishing MA at University of Derby
3. MA Publishing at University of Plymouth
4. Digital Publishing MA at Oxford Brookes University
5. Publishing MA at UCL
6. Publishing MA at Kingston University London
7. Publishing Media MA at Oxford Brookes University
8. Publishing Studies MLitt at University of Stirling

If anyone has any advice on which courses are better and have better employability rates, that would be great, as I currently haven't been able to find any obvious stats for any of these courses. I think it's also pretty likely that I'll have to move to London, or at least somewhere in England to do a publishing masters, so any advice on funding and scholarships would be great

Also, would it be worth getting a membership with SYP while I'm applying and waiting to see if I get into any of these courses? I should also note that I am currently living in Scotland, so some of the events may not be that accessible to me if they're all in London.
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londonmyst
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What sort of career role are you hoping to obtain within the publishing industry?

I work at a publishing firm.
The SYP runs some good events and membership fees are great value.
Joining the SfEP is an effective route into a freelance proofreading or copyediting career.
Plenty of opportunities of networking with publishing professionals: publishers, literary agents and editors.
But my focus is more related to raising my profile and networking in the industry to get a good publishing deal.
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Converse&Roses
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(Original post by londonmyst)
What sort of career role are you hoping to obtain within the publishing industry?

I work at a publishing firm.
The SYP runs some good events and membership fees are great value.
Joining the SfEP is an effective route into a freelance proofreading or copyediting career.
Plenty of opportunities of networking with publishing professionals: publishers, literary agents and editors.
But my focus is more related to raising my profile and networking in the industry to get a good publishing deal.
I am very interested in editing, but I've been told by multiple people within the publishing industry not to get my hopes up in that regard because there are so many applicants for editorial roles. I am also quite interested in the communication and production side of publishing, and rights is something that I'd like to explore more as well.

I'm assuming most of these networking events are in London? Just from experience, I know that the publishing scene in Scotland isn't great. I'll definitely look into getting SYP and SfEP memberships, so thanks for bringing those up

Edit: I also feel like I should mention that I have managed to get interviews for entry level publishing jobs after doing my internship, but I've gotten rejections back from all of them so far and a lot of the feedback I've gotten from interviewers is that I interviewed well but there were other candidates more suited to the roles, which I take as meaning that they have more experience than me?
Last edited by Converse&Roses; 1 year ago
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londonmyst
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(Original post by Converse&Roses)
I am very interested in editing, but I've been told by multiple people within the publishing industry not to get my hopes up in that regard because there are so many applicants for editorial roles. I am also quite interested in the communication and production side of publishing, and rights is something that I'd like to explore more as well.

I'm assuming most of these networking events are in London? Just from experience, I know that the publishing scene in Scotland isn't great. I'll definitely look into getting SYP and SfEP memberships, so thanks for bringing those up

Edit: I also feel like I should mention that I have managed to get interviews for entry level publishing jobs after doing my internship, but I've gotten rejections back from all of them so far and a lot of the feedback I've gotten from interviewers is that I interviewed well but there were other candidates more suited to the roles, which I take as meaning that they have more experience than me?
Editorial roles are ultra-competitive; something like 60% networking, 20% experience, 10% luck, 5% qualifications and 5% talent.
But if that is your ambition, it is possible to achieve.
Some programmes do offer assistance with accessing placements and mentoring schemes.

Many networking events are in London but I've also attended plenty of events in other parts of England and Ireland.
Extensive networking activity to raise your profile, personal recommendations from people working in the industry and experience- all play a part.
There is a slightly cliquey culture in publishing and conformity is often seen as a unwritten selection criteria.
A significant part of that relates to spoken accent, fashion sense and to a very limited degree pro-establishment uk politics.
Some interns who grew up in Scotland and were pro-independence used to frequently grumble about being "frozen out" based upon their accents although they claimed never to discuss political issues at work.
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Converse&Roses
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(Original post by londonmyst)
Editorial roles are ultra-competitive; something like 60% networking, 20% experience, 10% luck, 5% qualifications and 5% talent.
But if that is your ambition, it is possible to achieve.
Some programmes do offer assistance with accessing placements and mentoring schemes.

Many networking events are in London but I've also attended plenty of events in other parts of England and Ireland.
Extensive networking activity to raise your profile, personal recommendations from people working in the industry and experience- all play a part.
There is a slightly cliquey culture in publishing and conformity is often seen as a unwritten selection criteria.
A significant part of that relates to spoken accent, fashion sense and to a very limited degree pro-establishment uk politics.
Some interns who grew up in Scotland and were pro-independence used to frequently grumble about being "frozen out" based upon their accents although they claimed never to discuss political issues at work.
My accent actually isn't that strong - a lot of people think I'm English or American because I have such a non-accent. I also never discuss politics at work for those exact reasons that you mentioned - personally I think it's a bit unprofessional to bring up politics if it's not relevant to the job.

What are the general guidelines on fashion sense within the publishing industry then? I noticed that the women in my office wore a lot of dresses and shirts with skirts or trousers, usually in block colours - but maybe that was just at that one publishing house.
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University of Derby
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(Original post by Converse&Roses)
I graduated with a 2:1 in English and Language & Linguistics this June and I have been having issues finding a paid job in editing/publishing just with that degree. Obviously I know that thousands of other UK graduates have more or less the exact same degree as me, so that doesn't help either. All I've managed to get within the past six months that's actually somewhat related to a career in publishing is some editorial volunteer work and an unpaid internship with a publishing house in London that only lasted one month. So, I think the next logical step would be to apply for a masters in publishing.

I've managed to come up with a list of courses that I would like to apply to within the UK, but I would like to make a shortlist within that. This is what I have at the moment:

1. Publishing MA at UAL
2. Publishing MA at University of Derby
3. MA Publishing at University of Plymouth
4. Digital Publishing MA at Oxford Brookes University
5. Publishing MA at UCL
6. Publishing MA at Kingston University London
7. Publishing Media MA at Oxford Brookes University
8. Publishing Studies MLitt at University of Stirling

If anyone has any advice on which courses are better and have better employability rates, that would be great, as I currently haven't been able to find any obvious stats for any of these courses. I think it's also pretty likely that I'll have to move to London, or at least somewhere in England to do a publishing masters, so any advice on funding and scholarships would be great

Also, would it be worth getting a membership with SYP while I'm applying and waiting to see if I get into any of these courses? I should also note that I am currently living in Scotland, so some of the events may not be that accessible to me if they're all in London.
Hi, it's great to hear you're considering our Publishing MA at Derby!

This is a really popular course and we've received a 90% student satisfaction rating for the quality of teaching. (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2019)

Being a third-year creative writing student at Derby myself, I have gotten to know the lecturers that teach on the MA Publishing course quite well and can't emphasise enough how helpful, knowledgeable and supportive they are.

Although being based in the East Midlands, we have great links to major publishing houses and regularly feature guest lectures from leading figures from across the industry including Hachette, Trigger Press, HarperCollins, and SAGE.

Our previous students have also gone on to work for major publishers such as Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Taylor & Francis, while others have set up their own publishing companies and freelance services - showing you don't need to study in London to have a career in Publishing!

Derby itself offers a great student experience and affordability, meaning you can make the most of your studies too.

I hope this helps give you a bit more insight into what it would be like to study at Derby, but the best way to really decide if its right for you is to book onto one of our Postgraduate Open Days. The next one will be on Thursday 23 January and you can book your place here.

Thanks!

^Katie
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MildlyAloof
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What sort of career do you think you want? You haven't said. Publisher? Editor? Agent? Fiction? Science? This should impact on your decision as publishing at Masters is pretty vocational. I call it an MBA-like. It should be preparing you to be a future business leader. Publishing is definitely not for everyone and churn rates are high among junior staff.

Success in trade and general book publishing is often determined by network (and networking ability), luck and conforming to a certain demographic. After all, the market is largely a certain demographic. It's full of self-promoters and talking heads. If you don't fit in you'll find it harder but not impossible. And a non-regional accent or avoiding certain topics won't be enough to save you. There's a reason 'diversity' has been a perpetual problem with very little change. Find the right publisher, ideally one that is currently publishing stuff you like or operating in a market segment you find interesting. The future of the industry (from their own business perspective or by genre) is a common theme and you'll be expected to have formed at least a nugget of an opinion about it. The hope here is that someone takes you under their wing or you're lucky enough to stumble into working on the next big thing and can claim it as talent.

Research and professional publishing tends to be quite different. Experience, fundamental competencies (not talent), and qualifications (often subject specific) are far more important. Such publishers tend to want analytical, project and financial management skills rather than an interest in books and editorial (you may never see a physical book or do any 'editing', instead you help validate content and guide development). Actively engaging with the subject matter and key experts within the field is critical. You won't find a huge deal of serendipity or excitement here - unless you can find pleasure in publishing knowledge from experts at the top of their particular field. Expect research, spreadsheets and growth targets galore. Somewhat less conformist or cliquey than trade but does suffer from overbearing traditionalist attitudes within subject areas. Move around to progress as business intelligence is often considered to be as valuable a skill set. Ultimately though, you're a cog in a machine.

Either way, it's not a bad career. You won't be making millions and you'll be staring at a screen... a lot, but you'll certainly be comfortable if you stick at it. A good author or interesting (and successful) project can make it really worthwhile. In fact, commissioning and working with interesting authors on well-received publications is the most rewarding element.

General tips are to be careful with your diction (accent doesn't matter providing you don't get colloquial) and written English needs to be close to flawless. Fashion will be established by the individual company, office, department and sub-team. You'll get a better idea at interview. However, neutral colours business casual is the default. I manage a small team, direct others and have to be external-facing with authors and other stakeholders. In the office I wear chinos and a shirt, occasionally a casual tie. Ditto when meeting authors. When at conferences / events I generally wear a suit (sometimes mismatched depending on market segment) without a tie. I would never wear jeans, t-shirts or trainers but I have been in offices where this is fairly normal.

When it comes to conforming on personality: don't bother. You need to be a team player in publishing but you don't have to be another clone.
Last edited by MildlyAloof; 11 months ago
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