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A Peek into Publishing: Publishing Assistant

Welcome back to the latest Peek into Publishing! We love showing you around our departments and offering insight into a wide range of roles – take a look at our Peek into Publishing page for more posts if you want to work in publishing. This week we’re delving into the world of what it’s like being a Publishing Assistant with Desola Coker.

Desola Antonia Coker, Publishing Assistant

How did you get into the industry and into your current role?

I’d been trying to get into publishing for a while, starting early in my undergrad year when I applied for the Penguin Work Experience placements. I never got in, and it was incredibly difficult to pursue this as I spent a year of my university education abroad. I graduated during the very beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and had been seeking a job since then.

Also, I had a publishing mentor who is honestly the greatest gift I can give to anyone. My mentor, Ruth, coached me on so many things. She helped me with my CV, showed me how to curate my bookstagram to appeal to publishers and also taught me interview skills that helped me land work experience at a Literary and Film Agency in May 2021.

Working at the agency really opened my eyes to the agenting side of publishing, and introduced me to the chaos that is contracts, royalties and deals in general. I really enjoyed working there, and made connections with people that proved pivotal.

After scrolling through Twitter in mid July ’21, I spotted that Angry Robot were looking for a publishing assistant to take over from their previous one. As I’m an avid SFF reader, I decided to apply. It turns out my manager knew someone from my work experience at the agency and reached out to them to ask about me! I completed a task before my second interview, and shortly after this, received a formal invitation for the job.

What does your day to day look like as a Publishing Assistant?

As a publishing assistant, I aid the editorial, publicity and marketing people on our team. There are always a lot of emails! Most days, I spend the bulk of my mornings answering emails that may have appeared overnight. As a lot of our authors are in America, they operate on different time zones, so there are more emails to deal with daily than I first anticipated. Then, I carry out admin requests for the rest of the Angry Robot team, such as updating metadata, posting content on our Twitter account or drafting up contracts for deals.

When I’m in the office, I’m usually sending out proof copies of our books to bloggers and the press. I’ve started to take on more responsibilities such as organising events and doing publicity for certain books, as well as making videos for our TikTok account.

Sometimes, I take in copy edits and proofreads from our freelancers before sending them off to the authors to work on. I’ve been taught how to make digital ARCs as well. Soon, I’m anticipating learning more about typesetting manuscripts. 

What were you most surprised to learn when you started working in publishing?

How much jargon there is! The word ‘embargoed’ barged into my dictionary and it’s pretty much become part of the every day now. I told my friend a secret recently and said ‘it’s embargoed information’ or something like that, and she looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.

What is the best thing about your job? 

I love chatting to the authors! Sometimes I feel like I am nattering on about nothing when I initially email them a request, but each one of them has replied thoughtfully and kindly. They’re all so friendly, and I don’t know why I expected differently!

I also love looking at the covers: the design team at Watkins are brilliant. Sending them a cover brief always makes me happy as I can’t wait to see what they’ll make of it!

What is the most challenging part of your role?

Getting everything done in time! There’s always a lot of things to do, and sometimes I feel like I’m lagging behind. I’m always conscious of things I’m forgetting, and it makes me feel guilty when I don’t get things done in a certain time frame. I’m learning to be much easier on myself when I don’t get these things done as fast as I anticipated, as they will get done. They always do.

What would be your top tip for people applying to work in publishing?

Everyone says you need to figure out which exact department you want to work in, and while I think that’s true, I also think that it’s important to find someone in that department to talk to. A mentor is often key in aiding success if you want to work in publishing. My mentor was brilliant, and still is: she went above and beyond to help me out, and offered an ear to vent my struggles when an interview went wrong, or a job that I thought was perfect to me sent a big fat no back.

It’s important to have one in this industry because they know how hard it is to be in this industry. They have vast amounts of knowledge! Finding a good mentor is key.

What’s one Angry Robot book you’d encourage everyone to read?

It’s difficult to choose just one, but I would say The Cabinet by Un-su Kim. Initially published in 2006, it was translated from Korean and released by us in October 2021 and is a delight! It won the Munhakdongne Award, which is South Korea’s most prestigious literary award. If you’re a fan of his previous novel, The Plotters, or are just interested in researching the South Korean wave (Parasite, Squid Game, BTS and BIGBANG! Start there!), you may want to pick this book up too.

Tell us about a project you’re currently working on

Oh, where do I begin? I’m really excited for the reissue of one of our backlist books, An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows! I also am very excited for the release of Tik-Tokker Stacey McEwan’s book Ledge, which is just… you guys will see when it comes out in September!


That’s all for this week! We hope you gained a little more insight into what it’s like to be a Publishing Assistant. We wish those of you wanting to work in publishing the best of luck! If you want to learn more about upcoming “A Peek Into Publishing” projects, follow Watkins on Twitter.

You can also follow Desola on Instagram and Twitter!

Top Ten Terms: Editorial in Publishing

Happy new year! We’re excited to continue our Peek into Publishing posts in 2022 with more exciting content to help you at the start of your publishing journey. As our first post this year, we’re looking to demystify the jargon used in publishing meetings and around the office. We’ve asked our editorial team to name and define the Top Ten Terms they wished they’d known when they first started in the industry. As they thought of so many important editorial terms, we’re making this a two-part special, with a second list of terms coming soon. 

These terms are useful for anyone looking to work in publishing, or for someone who has recently started out in their first publishing role, whichever department it’s in. They are mentioned in meetings with all departments, so we hope you’ll benefit from learning them! 

If you want to look at terms used in other departments, take a look at our previous Top Ten Terms posts by our rightssales and marketing & publicity departments.

1. Prelims

This includes all the content that appears in the book prior to the introduction or the first chapter. In Watkins’ books this can include:

  • List of endorsements 
  • Title page
  • Imprint page
  • Contents page 
  • Dedication
  • List of author’s previously published titles
  • Foreword
  • Preface

2. Endmatter

This refers to all the content that appears in the book after the final chapter ends. In Watkins’ books this can include:

  • Notes
  • Appendices
  • Glossary
  • Further reading list
  • Bibliography
  • About the author
  • Acknowledgements
  • Index

3. Extent 

Extent is a publishing term for the page count. Printers will require the extent to be a certain number. The printers we use need the extent to be a multiple of 8, (the paper is bound in multiples of 8). So, if our book comes to 198 pages, we will add two pages at the end to make our extent 200 (a multiple of 8). This means we could add content to the end or have these as blank pages (if you’ve ever wondered why some books have blank pages at the end – this is why!)

4. Folios

Folios is another publishing term that has a simpler word – page number. If someone asks you to check the folios are correct, they are asking you to check each page has the page number at the bottom and the numbers are correct. By this, I mean that we don’t skip a number. 

5. Running heads

Running heads normally appear at the top of the page. At Watkins, we put the part name on the left page and the chapter title on the right page. If the book isn’t split into parts, the book title will appear on the left instead. 

6. Title page

You’ll notice I included the title page in my list of content that appears in the prelims. The title page will be one of the first pages you see when you open the book – it has the book title, subtitle, author name and company logo in the exact position as the cover. In fact, it is almost a replica of the cover, sometimes with the design details removed. In black and white books (known as mono books), this will be the cover in black and white. See below for an example of a recently published Watkins book and its title page. 

7. Overmatter

Overmatter refers to content that won’t fit on the page. If you’re working to a strict extent, and the book cannot be over a certain number of pages due to costs, then the designer will set text as overmatter rather than running it on extra pages. So, if a chapter has 3 lines running on a new page, the designer might instead mark this as overmatter at the bottom of the page. The editor would then have to cut the previous page by 3 lines to make sure this text fit. 

8. Heading levels

You may often hear editors and designs talking about A heads and B heads and C heads and … you get my drift. Each heading level will have a certain design to indicate that the A heads are the larger, more important heads and the B heads come under the A heading. For example, an A head in a fitness book could be The Gym and a B head that falls under this could be Treadmills. The headings in the manuscript are labelled clearly so the designer knows the level of each heading and can design them correctly. This will look like the following:


<A head> The Gym <A Head>
<B head> Treadmills <B head>

9. Serial comma

This is a contentious piece of grammar in publishing – everyone has an opinion as to whether you should use one. Also referred to as the Oxford Comma, it’s the comma that appears before and in a list: I want a dog, a cat, and a rabbit. In Watkins, our style dictates we don’t use the serial comma, but this will differ across publishers. 

10. Pre-press check

You might be asked to perform a pre-press check as an Editorial Assistant. This is the final check that the editorial team performs on the book before it goes to press. You are generally checking the contents page is correct, the folios and running headers are all correct, a spell check has been performed to pick up any remaining pesky typos, there are no double spaces or pages with missing text and scanning each page for a final time to make sure no weird design elements catch your eye – for example, an A head isn’t in bold. 


That’s all for this week! We hope you gained a little more knowledge of the editorial terms that get used a lot. We wish those of you seeking a job in editorial (and in publishing in general) the best of luck!

If you want to learn more about upcoming Peek Into Publishing projects, follow Watkins on Twitter. You can see all our previous Peek into Publishing posts on this page. 

A Peek into Publishing: Audio with Sneha Alexander

Welcome back to the latest Peek into Publishing! We love showing you around our departments and offering insight into a wide range of roles – take a look at our Peek into Publishing page for more posts. This week we’re delving into the world of audiobooks with the wonderful Sneha!

Sneha Alexander, Audiobook Assistant

How did you get into the industry and into your current role?

My route into publishing was unusual! After studying English Literature at university, I freelanced for almost five years (in addition to some more studying, including a stint of time learning Mandarin in China). Over the years, I developed a varied portfolio of work that included copywriting, project management and graphic design, as well as general administrative skills.

I’d always wanted to work in publishing (and had applied for a few editorial internships when I first left university), so when the job as Audio Assistant came up I was eager to try it out! I love physical books but am also constantly listening to audiobooks and podcasts – while I’m commuting or pottering around my flat – and I realised that I was much more interested in audiobooks than I had originally thought.

Despite feeling like I wasn’t adequately qualified for the publishing industry, the skills I’d developed on various freelance jobs were in fact the things that got me hired. These skills have also opened up lots of opportunities for me now that I’m in the company – alongside my audio work I also create animations as well as illustrations and design assets for the physical books.

What does your day to day look like as an Audio Assistant?

Like with most jobs, my day starts with my inbox. I’m always excited to see if we have been delivered any sets of audiobook narrator samples from our production studio. I can then listen to these samples and decide which narrators would work best for the audiobook. The next step is to send a shortlist onto the author, who makes the final call.

Once I’ve cleared my inbox, I check the audiobook schedule and make sure we’re on track to deliver our titles in line with their physical publication date. I might have been delivered a full audiobook which requires me to spot-check the files before uploading them to our distribution platforms (ACX and PRH). I also have to make sure that all our authors are happy with the progress we’re making, and that the audio production studios are working within budget. 

In the afternoons (when I’m not in meetings), I work on creating marketing materials, or creating illustrations if there is a physical book that requires them.

What were you most surprised to learn when you started in audio in publishing?

I was surprised by just how many acronyms there are in publishing and how different they sound when spoken instead of written! For example, everyone in the office would talk about “arks” which confused me for a long time as I didn’t connect the word with how I phonetically pronounced ARC’s (Advance Reader Copies). In audio, the most common acronym we use is ACX, short for Audiobook Creation Exchange. This refers to the platform we use to publish audiobooks on Amazon, iTunes and Audible.

My biggest disappointment was when I realised that “pub day” (an event that appears regularly on my Google calendar) means publication day, rather than a day at the pub …

What is the best thing about your job? 

The opportunities! The benefit of working for a small (and incredibly supportive) publishing house is that I have been able to work on a variety of projects that are outside of my job description. My favourite of these has been creating illustrations for some of the books that we publish.

For example, last week I created some illustrations of yoga poses for an upcoming book on periods. The author wanted the book to be inclusive, so we talked through ways to represent that in the illustrations of this mono title (printed in black-and-white). My final yoga pose illustrations therefore included three figures, each with a different hair type and skin tone. It was really exciting to be able to work with an author in this way!

What is the most challenging part of your role?

It can be quite a challenge to remain on top of production schedules. We currently have 30 audiobooks in production so it requires a lot of juggling to make sure that everything is ready in time to go live alongside the physical books. 

What would be your top tip for people applying to work in publishing?

I would advise you to carry on developing your skill sets, and exploring things that you enjoy! Even if a skill doesn’t seem to correspond directly with the job descriptions you’re looking at, it can still become a key part of your working life in the future.

What’s one Watkins book you’d encourage everyone to read?

I’m obsessed with The Art of Preserving by Emma Macdonald! It’s a beautiful recipe book and I can wholeheartedly recommend the chilli jam.

Tell us about a project you’re currently working on

I’m currently working on the audiobook for Spidertouch by Alex Thomson. It’s a fantasy novel in which the world features a touch language “fingerspeak” that is used by the mute enslavers of the protagonist’s city. On the page, this language is conveyed using italics. As the language, and the protagonist’s ability to navigate it, is a central part of the plot, we really wanted to find a way to convey this in the audiobook. Our solution was to work with a sound design team to devise the sounds of the touch language, and then loop these under the narrator’s voice. 

I think the sensory nature of touch comes across even stronger when using sound than it does on the printed page, which is really cool! It’s always wonderful when you get to produce something that really makes full use of its medium.


That’s all for this week! We hope you gained a little more insight into our audio department. We wish those of you seeking a job within audio in publishing the best of luck!

If you want to learn more about Sneha and her work you can take a look at her website, and if you want to find out about upcoming A Peek Into Publishing projects, you can follow Watkins on Twitter

Top 10 Tips:
First Week in Publishing

So it’s your first week in your new publishing job. Maybe it’s your first ever publishing job, or maybe you’ve just moved companies. Either way, congratulations! You’ve passed the first hurdle, and now it’s time to look forward.

We asked all our recent starters what ten things they would recommend you do in your first week, and even what they wished they’d done. This list is in no particular order, but follow these tips and set yourself up for success!

1. Find a good note-taking system

Whether it’s a nice notebook, or your favourite list-making app, make sure you have a place to write everything down. As you go you’ll start to remember more things off the top of your head, but the amount of information at the start can be a lot, so get it written down.

Whether it’s names of people in departments, any questions you think of, new terms, processes or details about upcoming books, make sure you’ve got it to hand. You never know what you’ll need to look back on next week!

2. Familiarise yourself with their list

While it’s impossible to memorise an imprint’s whole list, it’s helpful to get a good idea of their recent releases and upcoming titles as a starting point.

If you’re working from home it might be easiest to look through the production schedule, or if you’re in the office take a look around at the books on the shelves.

It’s also worth looking into getting your own copies of a few! Most companies offer a staff discount, if not gratis copies, so ask around and see what’s available.

3. Get comfortable with your computer setup

There can be a lot of platforms to get set up on when you first start, from emails to server access, working out how to book time off, using Zoom or Teams etc. – make sure you have time to look through all of them and get to grips with them. And keep a note of all of your passwords!

4. Take a deep dive into the company systems

Similarly to the new platforms, make sure you make the most of any free time by looking around the server – the various spreadsheets and drives that are frequently used.

5. Keep a list of questions

You’re guaranteed to have them! Don’t lie to yourself and think you’ll remember them. Note them down so you have a list for your first meeting with your manager, and remember that no question is silly or off limits.

For example, when we started, here are just a few things we asked: terms we heard in meetings we didn’t know about, what a certain figure meant in the P&L (profit and loss) document, how long we have to do a certain task, etc.

6. Say yes!

It’s likely at the start you’ll have a bit more free time, so take advantage of this and all the training opportunities you get offered – and say yes whenever you can. 

7. Introduce yourself

To your department and the wider team! You never know who you’ll end up working with later down the line, so reach out to a few people seeing if they’re interested in having a ‘get to know eachother’ chat over video call or a coffee.

8. Start organising early

Chances are, your first week is likely to be the week you get the fewest emails you ever will in your role. So get organised while you can!

We recommend setting up an organised filing system in your inbox, as well as on your desktop, so that as things come in they have a place to go.

9. Attend all the meetings

Go to whatever you’re invited to and ask if you can sit in on the ones you might not be. You may not need to go back to them in future but it’ll give you great insight into how different departments interact.

10. Take a breather

As much as it’s important to absorb as much information as you can, make sure you don’t put too much pressure on yourself in the first week. There’ll be a lot of new things thrown at you, so make sure you are taking your full lunch breaks and finishing on time to get that work-life balance.

That’s all for this week! We wish you the best of luck on your publishing journey. If you want to learn more about upcoming Peek Into Publishing projects, follow Watkins on Twitter, and take a look at some of our previous blog posts here.

A Peek into Publishing: Interview Tips from Hiring Managers

Earlier this year we asked our senior management team about good and bad job applications and how they narrowed down the pool of candidates when hiring for entry level roles – if you missed it you can find it here. This week is #WorkinPublishingWeek, so what better time to answer your questions about publishing interviews – what stands out, what not to do and what our senior managers were specifically looking for when hiring recent positions. 

Fiona Robertson is Publisher here at Watkins and she hired a new Editorial and Audio Assistant in October 2020. 

Laura Whitaker-Jones is our Marketing and Publicity Manager and she recruited a new Publicity Assistant last January. 

After 1,500 job applications across the two roles, Watkins interviewed approximately 30 people across the two roles, so we asked the hiring managers how they narrowed down the interviewed candidates. We hope you find some insight below that helps you with your own publishing interviews. Remember, each hiring manager is different, as shown by Fiona and Laura’s answers, but some tips are universal.

Can you tell us a bit about the interview process you created?

Fiona: The applications closed 1 September 2020. After creating a longlist of the best candidates, we narrowed this down to a shortlist of ten. The decision-makers were me, the Sales and Marketing Director (now the Deputy Managing Director) and the Editorial and Audio Manager.

I sent the top ten candidates an editorial test to complete and, on the basis of this, progressed seven candidates onto stage two: the Zoom interviews. These took place in the last two weeks of September. Each interview was with the Editorial and Audio Manager and me, and lasted one hour with the same ten questions in the same order.

We then selected the top two candidates from the Zoom interviews and asked them if they would feel comfortable coming into the office to meet a few members of the team and try out some of the tasks they would be expected to do in the role. By the start of October, lockdown rules had eased, allowing six people in the office at once. We paid for the candidates’ travel and lunch expenses.

Laura: I spent six weeks interviewing candidates for my Publicity Assistant position, progressing them through four stages. After receiving over 500 applications, I interviewed the top 20–25 applicants in 30-minute “get to know you” phone calls. From these conversations, I asked ten applicants to participate in a second zoom interview with the other members of my team. Six candidates were then provided with an AI (advanced information) sales sheet for an upcoming release and asked to pull together a comprehensive publicity plan for the title. Finally, after reviewing the plans, I asked my three top choices to complete a final interview with myself and our Deputy Managing Director.

What were you looking for at each stage?

Fiona: In the first stage – the editorial test – we gave each of the shortlisted candidates a cover and a double-page spread from inside a book to see if they could spot the typos and layout errors we’d introduced. Candidates were asked to spend about an hour proofreading, using Adobe PDF to make comments.

In the second stage – the Zoom interviews – I was looking primarily at how the candidates would work as a part of our editorial team. Would they show initiative and the ability to manage a large workload while also being able to take direction and learn on the job?

In the final stage – the in-person interview that involved completing various tasks in the office – I was looking primarily at how the candidate would work with others.

Laura: In the initial 30-minute interviews, I asked candidates about their favourite books, the difference between publicity and marketing and what they knew about our Watkins/Nourish list. I wanted to get an initial impression of what they were like as people outside of their CV.

Having my existing team join me in conducting the second stage of interviews was very important to me. In this stage, I paid particular attention to the questions the candidate asked my team. I’m a strong believer that publishing interviews should not be just about the hiring manager interviewing a potential employee; they should be a two-way street. If the candidates didn’t take the opportunity to ask questions, it signalled to me that they weren’t interested in doing the research necessary to know whether the job and team were right for them. The successful candidates were the ones who asked my team a multitude of questions about the role, the company, how I was as a manager, the pros and cons of working for an independent publisher, etc. I also looked for potential candidates to ask follow-up questions in response to my team and my answers – I was looking for the interview to turn into a dialogue. 

In the third stage – the publicity plan – I looked for candidates to demonstrate a willingness to look at the bigger picture of a campaign, and to think outside of the box. I paid close attention to which podcasts, TV programmes, and newspapers/magazines they suggested for the publicity plan, as well as the different ways we could incorporate virtual events. In short, I was looking for innovation, ingenuity and creativity within their suggested plan. 

The fourth stage with our deputy Managing Director was important as a publicist needs to be comfortable speaking to people in high level positions. The candidate who was successful immediately demonstrated an ease and level of confidence in establishing a connection with someone at a very high level. That’s invaluable, and can often take time to teach.

Can you give an example of one question you asked and what you were looking for in the answer?

Fiona: One of the questions was “What is an editorial assistant’s most important skill?” This was a key question for me: I wanted people to acknowledge the importance of attention to detail in their answer. In fact, the successful candidate cited two important assets: attention to detail and the ability to combine working on your own with calling in help when needed. This answer stood out as it showed initiative yet also reassured me that they wouldn’t go off and make a mess of something instead of asking for guidance. Very important for a new starter in this era of working from home!

Another question was about the candidate’s main strength and weakness. It’s not a particularly helpful question but it’s one hiring managers can rarely resist. I’d recommend you prepare a genuine but not too embarrassing weakness. Don’t suggest a weakness that is actually a strength – that’s just irritating and doesn’t give any insight into how you work. On the other hand, don’t be too frank with your weaknesses. A good answer might be an admission of some lack of practical know-how (for example, that you don’t know how to use InDesign) combined with an assertion that you’re a quick learner and eager to learn. (Although if you’re going for a job as a designer, admitting you don’t know InDesign won’t do you any favours – as I said, pick your weakness carefully.)

Laura: in the first interviews, I asked, “How did you offer value in your previous role?” I was looking for insight into how the candidate assigned value to a job, as well as a list of what the candidate felt were their biggest accomplishments and strengths. 

In the second round, my team asked, “What would you do in the first week, month and year in this role?” I was looking for insight into how closely the candidate had read the job description, and then insight into how the candidate would spin the position into something beyond what I had listed – in brief, how the candidate would make the job their own. I was also looking for an indication of how closely the candidate has listened to my list of my own goals for the team and the company over the next few years.

What interview answers did you hear that you didn’t like?

Fiona: When I asked about the best asset of an editorial assistant, one candidate cited the need to know the market and what the current trends are. From her answer, I had a feeling that she didn’t really want an entry-level role and probably wouldn’t stay for long if we gave her the job.

Laura: If I asked how a candidate offered value in their previous role and it was clear that they hadn’t been listening to my goals for the team and the company, or that their goals weren’t aligned with the company culture or mission, or that the candidate wasn’t capable of sharing their own aspirations/goals, then they did not progress.

What are some of the best questions you’ve been asked at the end of an interview by a candidate?

Fiona: The successful candidate asked what her priorities would be in the first month of the job. It showed she was engaging and thinking about what this specific job would be like – she didn’t want just any publishing job, she wanted this one.

One person asked how I got into the industry and my experiences at Watkins. This is a great one to have up your sleeve, because the answer is unlikely to come up during the interview and people do love to talk about themselves. You definitely need a question to ask at the end, so have this in reserve in case the ones you prepared are answered during the interview.

Laura: My favourite question was “What do you wish you had asked in your interview for the role you presently hold that you wish you had asked?” Very clever!

In terms of following up after the interview – do you expect a thank you email? And does following up regarding timeline affect your view of them?

Fiona: Following up is a great idea. If the hiring manager gets a nice email saying “I really enjoyed talking to you. Sounds like a great job to me and would love to work for you”, it creates a brilliant impression. I would strongly recommend!

Laura: I really recommend writing a thank you note after your interview via email. This is quickly becoming a lost art, and it shouldn’t be. Even a simple sentence or two will suffice. I guarantee that, in addition to providing a place for you to quickly and easily reiterate why you are a top candidate for the position, it will make you memorable in the best way possible.

How did remote interviewing over zoom and phone influence your process and experience?

Fiona: It’s a bit more difficult working with people’s unreliable internet connection or background noise, but we made an effort to set people at ease at the start of the interview, saying not to worry if the connection cuts off. We acknowledged that a Zoom interview might feel strange at first. Ultimately, however, I don’t think the experience was that different from an in-person interview.

Laura: It enabled us to interview candidates in the comfort of their own homes, which I think helped them to relax a bit more!

Do you have any additional advice for applicants?

Fiona: Even if you’re interviewing on Zoom, make sure you look like you’ve made an effort, at least from the top up! It’s still an interview and you want to give a good impression.

An interview shouldn’t be just about the employer asking you questions. You are also interviewing the hiring manager to see if this company is a good fit for you, so show interest back and ask them questions.

My final piece of advice is to be authentic. Really you should only apply and interview for the jobs you genuinely want. If you don’t want the job, it will be evident in the interview and you’ll struggle to come across as authentic. 

Laura: I 100 per cent agree with Fiona. The interview should be a conversation where you are also interviewing the potential Manager and team to see if they are a fit for you. Hiring managers don’t want you to take a position for the sake of it. The job you are taking, the team you are joining, and the atmosphere you work within should also be the right ones for you, or else you’ll be unhappy in your new position and company.

I also always think it’s a good idea to thank the interviewer for their time at the conclusion of the interview and ask for a timeline for the next stage of the publishing interview process.

People on social media also asked …

When is it reasonable to ask about salary if not listed?

Fiona: The job ad we created gave a salary band so all our candidates should have had an idea of what they would be paid and whether this was liveable for them. We didn’t discuss where they fit within this band until I called them to offer them the job.

If a salary band isn’t given (which it definitely should be!), I would recommend candidates ask after the first interview, when they’re offered a second interview. There is no harm in saying that you can’t continue the process without knowing if the salary would work for you.

Laura: If a salary band isn’t listed, I’d recommend you use Glassdoor to get an idea of the company’s salary range for your position. I don’t think there’s any harm in asking for clarification to the band at the end of the first interview.


We hope you found this useful – a huge thanks to Fiona and Laura for taking the time to talk us through their hiring processes and offering their publishing interview tips!

As you can see from some of the varied responses, hiring is a situation very individual to each publishing house and each member of staff, so there is often no right or wrong answer. Nonetheless, we hope you gained some insight into the individual perspectives and found some top tips to use in the future!

If you’re an aspiring publisher, check out our regular Peek Into Publishing posts – where you can find insights into a number of departments, what the staff do and some useful key terms.

Feel free to reach us on Twitter if you have any questions, and we wish you the best of luck on your publishing journey!

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