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Four quick tips for aspiring marketers

Grace Whooley has worked in marketing for over a decade – including heading up the Publishing & Brand marketing team at Guinness World Records and looking after Harry Potter, Sarah J Maas, Neil Gaimon, Chris Riddell and Katherine Rundell (to name just a few) in a senior marketing role at Bloomsbury Children's Books. Grace chose to take a marketing role outside of the publishing industry almost two years ago, proving that there is, in fact, a lot of life beyond books! So, if you want to work in marketing, have a read of Grace's four quick tips to help you land your first role: 

1. Make sure you really want to work in marketing

The number one mistake people make when interviewing for a marketing role is making it clear they really want to be in editorial! Editorial is (usually) the area people want to work in when they first get into publishing (understandably, as it’s what we see portrayed in books and TV), but it’s important that you have a genuine interest in marketing, which means a genuine interest in getting the book into readers' hands, generating excitement and buzz amongst booksellers, creating stand-out materials and running engaging campaigns. There is so much creativity that you can bring to a book’s journey to market. 

2. Get to know the different departments of publishing

From Editorial, Design, Production, Sales, Rights, PR and, of course, Marketing, get to know what each one does and how they fit together as a whole. Publishing is a business with tight budgets, difficult targets and a lot of team work, so demonstrating a knowledge of how the business actually works will make you stand out from the rest.

3. Follow as many publishers on social media as you can

Keep an eye out for their marketing activity so you can gather an understanding of what is involved in publishing marketing campaign – cover reveals, partnerships, competitions, videos, retail promotions, digital and ATL ad campaigns. Understanding how a book is promoted and marketed is crucial to showing market awareness in an interview, as well as being able to name current marketing campaigns (you will be asked to do this). I failed miserably at this in my first interview for a marketing role and have always made a point to ensure my market knowledge is on-point since!  

4. Apply for marketing internships in an effort to get relevant experience on your CV

An internship will give you a really good flavour of what the role will entail and if it really is for you. Unfortunately, it will, inevitably, include some mundane tasks such as mailing out 100 copies of one book in brightly-coloured jiffy envelopes, but getting the books into the hands of booksellers, bloggers and influencers is a hugely important part of a marketing campaign. So, although it may be tedious at times, it will feel worthwhile when you see photos of those packages on social media a few days later.

However, I do appreciate that not everyone can afford to do unpaid internships so keep an eye out for the paid graduate schemes that a lot of publishers have now moved towards. Be persistent and make use of any contacts you might have, and if you don’t have any contacts yet then check out the Society of Young Publishers for networking. Contacts-building is an essential part of the publishing industry, even (especially!) once you're in it, so this is a great place to start.


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