How to Get Into Publishing

Tips to help navigate the process of finding a career in the publishing world.

How to Get Into Publishing

Thank you for your interest in Penguin Random House! The ins and outs of breaking into book publishing have long been opaque. As part of our efforts to build a more diverse community of employees and create more pathways to publishing, we’ve created this guide to help demystify the process. While these tips and resources are predominately for entry-level or mid-level professionals, there are takeaways that can be utilized at all levels of a publishing career. This guide highlights our processes at Penguin Random House, and you may find some differences from company to company.

Step One: Educate Yourself

Find out as much as you can about the company and the overall industry. Bookjobs.com is a great resource to get started. Book publishing is a complex industry, and being well-versed in how it all works can feel daunting. Don’t worry — there’s no need to have it all figured out before you apply for a position at PRH, but here is a glossary of publishing terms that will help get you oriented.

Penguin Random House U.S. is a 5,000+ person organization made up of five publishing divisions, many corporate departments, and several distribution facilities. Positions within corporate areas such as Consumer Marketing, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, or Finance focus on Penguin Random House as an overall corporation. Conversely, a position within a publishing division focuses on the books published by that division or a particular imprint within that division. An imprint is the name applied to a publisher’s line of books — for example, Berkley is a romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and mystery imprint within our Penguin Publishing Group division. We have roles that fit a diverse range of expertise and interests, so be sure to browse our open positions frequently! 

Many people believe you need to be an English major to pursue a publishing career, which isn’t true. There are many jobs within publishing, and we don’t require a college degree for most of our roles at Penguin Random House. Here are some of the areas of our industry that various majors and backgrounds may translate well to.

Follow social handles for publishing houses and imprints (follow the PRH Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts). This is a great way to stay up to date with the books that are being published, what is trending, and what the overall feel for a particular imprint or publisher is.

Step Two: Get Yourself out There

Network in any capacity that you can.  Whether it’s through platforms like Twitter or Reddit, volunteer opportunities through organizations such as We Need Diverse Books, or connecting with alumni groups, there are many ways to forge meaningful relationships with members of the publishing industry. Networking in a virtual world has its own unique challenges but might also open doors that traditional networking cannot. For example, virtual coffees or events with individuals from different states or countries are now possible without leaving your home, making these meetings far more convenient and accessible. 

Use LinkedIn to connect with professionals at the companies and within the areas of publishing that you are interested in. Reach out to any peers you have commonalities with. Whether you attended the same school, live in the same town, or simply have the same interest in publishing, these shared experiences may bolster your connection with someone. When reaching out, introduce yourself and touch on any shared interests or experiences in a brief message – anything that may help the conversation flow naturally.

Penguin Random House is committed to building a more diverse workforce, which is equitable and inclusive for everyone. We Need Diverse Books, POC in Publishing, Blk + Brwn Book Designers, Latinx in Publishing, and Disability in Publishing are a few great resources for members of marginalized groups who are interested in publishing to build community.

We love finding non-academic organizations with whom we can forge new partnerships. Please complete this form if an organization you are affiliated with would like to partner on information sessions, networking events, and more.

Additionally, we partner with colleges and universities across the country to provide greater access to early career opportunities like internships and entry-level positions. Through our campus partners, we can offer candidates varying levels of priority and access to tailored programming for their respective campuses and students.  

Would you like us to consider including your college or university, or high school, in Penguin Random House’s outreach efforts? Some possible offerings, if selected for inclusion, are invitations to publishing information sessions, panels, and other networking opportunities. To request a school to include in our outreach efforts, click here.

Apply to an internship program. Many publishing houses, including Penguin Random House, as well as literary agencies and book reviewers, offer internship opportunities. These are a great way to learn about the industry, give you some relevant experience, and may help you decide what area of publishing you are interested in pursuing. Penguin Random House offers paid remote internships in the spring, summer, and fall.  

You don’t need publishing experience to pursue an internship at Penguin Random House. When applying, be sure to highlight any of your life, educational, and work experiences that would lend themselves to the responsibilities listed in the program you’re applying for. Information on how to best tailor your resume and cover letter can be found in Step Three of this guide.

We partner with many organizations to help expand the representation of our internship recruitment efforts. Some of these partnerships are with Project Basta, Bottom Line, Prep for Prep, Center for Communication, and Sigma Tau Delta. Depending on your situation, it might make sense to join an organization like this, which may include access to networking events, educational opportunities, and inside access to job postings. Some of these organizations have requirements such as being actively enrolled in college, so check out their respective websites to ensure you meet their qualifications.

Step Three: The Application Process

View our open jobs on the Penguin Random House Careers site.  For information on new roles, resume and cover letter tips, and more, follow our Careers Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

Read through the job description. The job description is carefully crafted by the Hiring Manager(s) and Recruiter to find candidates that fit the needs of the role and will include what the key aspects of the position are.

Research. If, for example, you aren’t familiar with the particular imprint of a role you’re applying for, search the company website for the genres and titles they publish. If you enjoy contemporary romance novels and the open job exclusively publishes westerns, perhaps there is an imprint that would better suit your interests. Once you discover the imprints you think you’d enjoy working for, make sure to state why in your application and/or cover letter. 

A strong resume can help you stand out. Each individual open role has its own requirements. If your experience matches the job description, be sure to present your credentials in a way that reflects those specific needs. Not sure where to start? For more information on crafting an effective resume, click here.

Another way to grab a Recruiter’s attention is through a cover letter. Not all of our postings require cover letters, but for those that do, it’s important to include one. As a publishing company, we’re passionate about the written word and would like to hear your distinctive voice. We want to know why you want to work in publishing, what you like to read or what other media you consume, and what your communication style is like. A cover letter is also an opportunity to express how your skills and experience, as well as your interests, align with the position.  

Canva has fillable templates that make resume and cover letter building easy. (And it’s free!)

In both your cover letter and resume, utilize keywords that show the link between your skills and interests and the job requirements. Keywords are words and phrases that relate to specific skills, abilities, and other qualifications that employers look for when screening applicants. Many keywords can be found in each job description as they represent the core requirements of the position. For example, if one of the bullets in the job description is “excellent communication skills,” you may want to include prior experience you’ve had as a tutor or public speaker on your resume. Then, in your cover letter, explain how you would apply these skills to the role you’re applying for.

Most of our open jobs are remote-friendly! You may be eligible for employment at Penguin Random House if you live and can legally work in the United States. If you’re only interested in remote positions, be sure to state that in your cover letter. 

Following the steps and advice in this guide will ready you for success in your job search at Penguin Random House and across the publishing industry. Good luck kickstarting your publishing career – we hope to come across your application soon!