Progress your publishing career [tips for newbies]

Louise Newton is an Audio Assistant at Little, Brown Book Group, working on fiction and non-fiction titles for imprints such as Virago and Sphere. This year Louise has been Head of Events/PR for the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and worked closely with the events team on organising the SYP’s sold-out conference How to make a bestseller which trended on Twitter for ten hours straight. She also assists the Royal Society of Literature at their events.

Once you’ve achieved your first role, it’s easily to get a little lack-lustre about networking. Anyone in publishing knows it’s an uphill battle getting your foot in the door and we’ve all felt that certain relief on finally achieving well-deserved recognition. However if you’re keen to progress here are five ways in which you can continue that recognition and grow towards your next step:

1) Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

This is a question you may not have thought about since interview and is something worth considering before attending your next publishing event. While it’s great to make the most out of networking opportunities, ask yourself: why you are you there? What are you hoping to gain? Who do you wish to talk to? When we begin our publishing careers it makes sense to explore every aspect of the industry but you are now in a position to be a little more choosy. Be honest with yourself, research and attend the events that will be most beneficial to you.

2) Networking

Networking events are orchestrated for you to meet lots of people within the same industry or sector. In that sense, it can be hard to be totally natural. It may sound obvious but one of the best ways to get past small talk is to listen to the person you’re networking with and build a conversation. Connect on what you have in common: a good place to start is often with a query into ‘what are you reading?’ rather than ‘where do you work?’

3) Twitter

We’re in an incredibly social industry, possibly one that’s even a little too nice! ( It’s easy to see why Twitter is the main social hub for publishers; I’ve often made connections on Twitter before meeting someone in person. Ways to connect: tweeting about books that you’re working on; retweeting and commenting on users with interesting content; using hashtags. Don’t be afraid to reach people on a personal level too: cups of tea and red velvet cake are also important areas of discussion in the publishing world. Make sure your Twitter account isn’t set to private so you can build a following and don’t be too outlandish.

4) Maintaining publishing relationships

Outside of Twitter, make the most of your lunchtimes by having a coffee with any connections you’d like to build on. If you have their email address always drop them a line after your first meeting.

5) Follow what makes you happy

We’re lucky to be in an industry where networking doesn’t just mean a sit-down conference – themed drinks evenings, book launches and literary salons also apply. Remember why you first got into publishing (I bet a love of books had something to do with it) and take the opportunity to get involved in areas outside of publishing focused events. I can fully recommend SYP’s networking events, the Royal Society of Literature and Damien Barr’s Literary Salon for this.