A career in publishing is a career in one of the main creative industries, and is all about storytelling, regardless of your job. Everyone who works for a publishing company makes a valuable contribution – here’s our guide to the different departments that make up Hachette UK.
The editorial team is responsible for acquiring the books the company will publish and works with authors and internal teams to ensure that the books are the best they can be. Editors read submissions from literary agents and foreign publishers; edit the books so they are structurally sound and free of factual and grammatical errors, inconsistencies and typos; and read very widely and have a keen sense of what else is selling well.
Designers have one of the most visible jobs in publishing, working on all the covers and some of the insides of books, making sure that the end products are as exciting and innovative as possible so that the books stand out for all the best reasons, in bookshops and online. Designers create covers in house, as well as commission artwork from illustrators and other designers, attend photoshoots and research the best possible pictures to use for a book’s cover and overall design.
Production teams are responsible for delivering the finished book, ensuring that it is profitable for the business, keeping everything running on time and making sure it is as close to perfect as it can be. They get to be creative in producing beautiful products and work with suppliers around the world.
Marketing teams work with every department and speak directly to the customer to persuade them to buy the book. This is done by creating digital and physical advertising, connecting directly with book buyers through channels they use regularly such as social media, TV, magazines and newspapers. It’s a marketer’s job to create early anticipation and excitement behind a book before publication, which is really important to encourage people to order it early.
The publicity department helps increase the visibility of an author, illustrator and/or book to key audiences such as bookshops, librarians, teachers and the book-buying public. Publicists coordinate events and book tours, reviews and press, radio and TV interviews with the author. Publicity teams work with marketing on book campaigns, but deal more with journalists, reviews and book tours, working closely with authors.
The primary role of a sales team is to pitch (sell) new books to retailers such as Waterstones, Foyles, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, and to persuade them to display them well in the shops to maximise sales to individual readers. For online retailers such as Amazon, the sales team will submit titles to be promoted on their websites. Sales teams are involved all through the book’s life cycle, from forecasting how many copies a book could sell, to ensuring it arrives to customers efficiently and on time.
Rights teams sell translation rights to foreign publishers, so they can translate our books into their local language. As well as translation rights, rights teams may also sell the rights to newspapers to serialise books, and deal with film, audio and other rights to adapt and change books. It may also sell rights to American publishers to publish in the English language in the USA.
The contracts team produces and finalises contracts between the publishing company and authors and agents. Although those in the contracts team aren’t necessarily lawyers, they will often have legal knowledge and are expert negotiators, which every publisher needs to make sure they’re getting the best deals for the books they want to publish.
Finance teams are experts in budgeting, forecasting and planning, and also at making sure the company spends its money as a business responsibly and carefully, so that it stays profitable and is able to continue publishing great books. Members of the finance team will also forecast how much money a book will make and analyse the risk of publishing a book before the publisher chooses to acquire it, so they are crucial to the whole process.
Digital teams are in charge of digital products, whatever format they take, looking after ebook and audio files, and providing these to the online shops that sell them. Digital teams also help to develop innovative digital products, and follow digital trends to make sure the publisher is competing in the online marketplace.
Working with every department in the company, the operations team has an unparalleled overview of the entire publishing process. It ensures that books flow smoothly from the moment of acquisition to the very end of their lives – on time, on budget and as efficiently as possible. Operations run key company meetings and make sure that deadlines are met, books are kept in stock and information on the books fed to the outside world is correct.
In some publishers you’ll find communications teams, either as part of marketing and publicity, or in addition to these teams. Communications teams work on book campaigns, but also take charge of any communications being sent inside and outside the company, including press releases, social media, internal newsletters, websites and publications.
Insight and Audience
Publishing is all about connecting books with the people who want to read them. But how do publishers know who those people are, and how do they decide the best ways to reach them? It’s the Insight & Audience team’s job to answer these questions. The people who work in this team are experts on audiences, trends, data and people, and they use this knowledge to gather information on who the readers are and how a publisher can get its books to them. They do this through surveys, focus groups and email campaigns, and by analysing heaps of data.
The aim of the HR team is to help everyone in Hachette be the best they can be and making it the most creative, innovative and rewarding publishing company to work for. Activities include attracting and recruiting the most talented people to join; delivering initiatives to keep them motivated and engaged; as well as managing contracts, salaries and benefits; and providing ways for people to grow their skills, knowledge and experience to develop their careers.
Publishing is a creative business, and all businesses need lawyers to make sure that everything is done within legal requirements. The in-house legal team consists of qualified lawyers who provide expert advice to the publishing teams and the business generally, such as on the content of books, trademarks and contracts with suppliers.
The IT department exists to make sure that the publishing teams have the technology and systems they need to publish great books efficiently. They manage large projects such as renewing major systems, rolling out innovative websites and creating bespoke technology to streamline the book-publishing process, as well as solving day-to-day problems for everyone in the company to make sure that their technology functions perfectly.
Publishers wouldn’t be able to get their books into the hands of their readers if they didn’t have people to physically do that, whether the books are bought in a bookshop or ordered online.
Hachette’s warehouse, the Hely Hutchinson Centre, is a state-of-the-art distribution centre in Oxfordshire which employs hundreds of people. Roles at the centre include stock managers, machine operators, IT systems engineers, customer service operatives and project managers.
If you would like to know more about how publishing works, please click here.