Trying to enter an industry such as publishing is scary, everyone seems to know someone who knows someone with a way into a job. This wasn’t my experience, I’m a relatively shy person when it comes to networking. My previous experiences with hosting, editing, proofreading and production made me more inclined to pursue a work placement in a different aspect of publishing. I had been lucky enough to experience something that many Publishing  hopefuls are interested in, so it made more sense to use my placement module to explore other options. I think it is so easy to idolise and dream about a career in publishing, believing that it is all about reading and editing manuscripts; after all this is the job you hear the most about in media, success stories about small/indie publishers who happened to receive a manuscript that would go on to become a bestseller. So far my master’s course has taught me that there are so many more layers to the publishing industry then I had originally thought, many of which are so specialised that it’s hard to develop the exact skills necessary unless you have experience.

I knew quite quickly into the course that I was interested in pursuing marketing, but as someone who has next to no experience in professional marketing it’s scary (and disheartening) to approach Publishers. Many publishers did not reply to my emails, but when they did they were polite and very sympathetic to my situation, after all the publishing industry is extremely competitive and you have to start somewhere! The pandemic seems to have made getting a placement more challenging, as many of the publishers I reached out to were not interested in having a remote placement, and many publishers were unable to provide an in person placement due to the pandemic. I had some great and apologetic responses from publishers who were unable to do placements, some of which offered to keep my CV just in case anything came up.

 The timing of the placement module meant that despite there being plenty of Publishers in and around Edinburgh, there were students from multiple universities trying to get similar placements at the same time. I quickly lost track of how many emails I sent! However once I got a placement, I found that most of my professional development came from myself. I wasn’t given a set list of tasks to complete and send back, or meetings to join, I was creating video content by myself. I found the Tiktok app to be difficult to edit with, so I had to try out different ways to edit what I had made. I used a range of apps both on my phone and on my laptop that  often waited until after I had fully finished and edited the videos to ask for payment to take away the app watermark. Eventually I found Filmforth, which for my needs has been absolutely wonderful! It is free, without watermarks and can be adjusted to fit the tiktok format. I found that it was super user friendly (no fiddly touchscreen bits that make accuracy incredibly difficult) relatively straight forward, and I watched tutorials which I found to be really helpful.

Image1 by, FilmForth Logo

Educating myself on Filmforth led to me deciding to optimise my love for learning and pursue short courses online to develop my marketable skills. I read through probably hundreds of job advertisements and made a list of desired skills and experience so I can make myself a better candidate for placements and jobs in the future. I am slowly making my way through said list, but I have found that I’m gaining confidence in my ability to adapt, learn, and to feel better and more excited to learn in whatever job I get. As an Edinburgh Napier university student I have access to the IGP Skills hub run by the Independent Guild of Publishers, which is full of courses designed specifically for publishing hopefuls. This has been a great starting point for my journey of professional development. There are plenty of websites with a variety of free courses so it is not difficult to find information, however it is important to keep in mind that these are free courses and shouldn’t be compared to real life experience or a degree in a certain subject. Finding reliable and informative courses can be challenging, but there’s a plethora of other information online to get you started, from YouTube videos to blog posts that can lay the foundations and inspire you to find out more information about topics and software that may come in handy. Books can also be helpful, but are often outdated and have the same downside of  independent online learning that you can’t ask questions or get feedback from your learning.

Image 2 Independant Publishers Guild Logo

 I hope that having a small amount of knowledge about a range of subjects puts me in a better position when I apply for jobs. Aside from that, I truly love learning and think that professional development is just as validating for personal reasons as professional reasons. I have seen myself become more confident in my own ability to learn and teach myself, which I’m sure will help me to break into the publishing industry.