UK Publishers Open a ‘Work in Publishing’ Campaign

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The United Kingdom’s Publishers Association has opened its annual week of promotion for careers in the book publishing business.

On London’s Oxford Street, with its holiday decor in place, November 8. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Jonathan Wilson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Getting Out the Word on Publishing Careers
Running today (November 20) to Friday, the United Kingdom’s Publishers Association is returning with its annual #WorkInPublishing campaign, the intent of which is to inspire people to pursue a career in publishing.

A component of the association’s and its member companies’ efforts to diversify the British publishing workforce, the program encourages the use of messaging created for various social media, communicating the idea of a career in book publishing.

There are pieces for various social platforms ready for quick downloads here. The association expects to share career information through its own channels.

One of the resources the association is offering is its “How Publishing Works” piece, which includes, near the bottom of the page, a guide to various jobs in publishing, links to publishers’ job-opening pages, and advice on creating a resumé and cover letter.

Ruth Howells

Ruth Howells, the association’s communications director, is quoted this morning, saying, “Work in Publishing week is a key moment for sharing insights and experiences, as well as a platform for showcasing publishing careers content.

“This year we’ll be hearing more from inspiring ‘People of Publishing'”–a series of interviews–[while] highlighting the OpenBooks careers events held earlier this year and posting careers content across our social channels.”

In describing the week’s program, the association writes that it plans to:

  • “Provide practical support and guidance for those looking to enter the industry including CV and interview tips
  • “Showcase the breadth of career opportunities in publishing, from editorial to production, through case studies and job profiles
  • “Champion industry professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds through Q&As with professionals at all levels of the publishing business
  • “Challenge common myths and assumptions about the publishing industry (for example, that a ‘creative’ career isn’t a secure one)”

Among planned activities for this year’s program:

“We’d love people to get involved,” Howells says, “by promoting publishing careers to their audiences and highlighting accessible information about working in the publishing industry.”

And the basic pitch is certainly a compelling one.

“Publishing is the home of creativity and communication,” we read in the “Work in Publishing” material. “It’s where the world’s most brilliant and original minds bring their ideas to be presented to the world.

“From research scientists to children’s book illustrators, from celebrity chefs to Nobel laureates, publishing is about communicating ideas and connecting people with content that matters. Publishers are at the heart of the information economy, getting those ideas out to the world and the people that need them.”

Image: An illustration from the Publishers Association’s ‘How Publishing Works‘ information

An Industry Trade Statement on Professional Values

In other recent news from the Publishers Association, the organization joined the Society of Authors, Booksellers Association and Association of Authors’ Agents earlier this month in releasing an updated industry statement on professional values.

Having been created five years ago, the new update has gathered several new organizations’ endorsements. Those groups include the Association of Illustrators; the Translators Association; Publishing Scotland; the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG); and the Writers Guild of Great Britain.

This is a statement that offers what’s described as “a clear, updated and robust set of professional values aimed at uniting and taking the industry forward.”

  • Members of the news media have been told that the overall structure of the document “has been changed so that it now encompasses 10 points, with additional emphasis on areas such as mental health. More reference to online behavior and social media discourse has also been incorporated.”
  • In announcing this five-year update, a joint statement from these industry trade organizations points out that each party is not a “standards body,” but instead the groups maintain “that an industry commitment of this kind can support an industry-wide culture we can be proud of–one which is welcoming to all, respectful of all, and supportive of all.”
  • In a top-line, edited look at those 10 points that form the core of this message, we read, in part:
  • We in the sector (booksellers, agents, authors, and publishing professionals) support and are champions of creative expression and freedom of speech.
  • Authors, publishing professionals, agents and booksellers are colleagues and collaborators in business and we expect a high standard of professional behavior from one another. Our professional communication will be respectful to all parties.
  • We celebrate and actively promote and cultivate diversity and inclusion in all its forms, including but not limited to the nine protected characteristics cited in The Equality Act 2010 as well as socio-economic status, educational background, caring responsibilities, and geographical location and we condemn abuse and the incitement of hatred of any kind.
  • We will endeavor to ensure that everyone in our industry is treated with dignity and respect so that individuals are supported and are able to speak out.
  • We support and are sensitive to the mental health of our colleagues and other industry professionals as well as those experiencing chronic illness, neurodiversity, disability and other physical challenges. We recognize that not all disabilities are visible. We are working toward improving inclusion and access for everyone to our industry across all the areas mentioned in 4 above.
  • Our professional behavior is thoughtful and anticipates consequences–and is required in every environment in which people interact for work reasons, including but not limited to: offices, bookshops, parties, committees, lunch meetings, awards ceremonies, rights fairs, festivals and any other venue, formal or informal; as well as online and in all communications.
  • We have a right to personal privacy, and to feel safe and valued in the working environment.
  • We will support one another and take action by:
    • Listening: If someone tells us that they find something racist, sexist, bullying, threatening, or uncomfortable, they have a right to that feeling. We will behave with empathy, respect and understanding.
    • Being Allies: We will not remain silent in the face of unacceptable behavior. We will listen to, speak up for and empower those who have experienced such behavior. We will bear witness and support appropriate action being taken, regardless of the status or the relative status of the individuals involved.
    • Being Aware Of Company Policies: If you do not think there is one, ask. As industry associations, we encourage our members to promote and implement the standards of professional behavior set out in this document and to create and endorse company policies which reflect these principles.

The full statement from the Publishers Association and its sister organizations can be found here (PDF).

Judicial Review: Oak National Academy

Also this month, the Publishers Association has joined with the Society of Authors and the British Educational Suppliers Association in requesting a judicial review relative to the UK’s department for education’s proposed model for “Oak National Academy.”

The high court has granted the request for this review. While some of the details involved in this situation aren’t those that will have been followed closely by the international audience, a key line in commentary from a spokesperson for the three organizations asserts that the Oak National Academy plan “creates a one-size-fits-all state publisher that promotes a single curriculum, controlled by the ministers of the day. No existing provider can compete fairly with this.

“It will undo decades of work by publishers, tech innovators, and others whose expert workforce have created our existing rich range of world-leading resources for school children across the country.”

In other words, this is yet another of the efforts seen in several markets by state actors to capture their nations’ educational-publishing activities.

In the United Kingdom’s case, the publishing organizations’ spokesperson says, “We welcome the high court’s decision to grant permission for the judicial review claim into the department for education’s plans for Oak National Academy.

“A judicial review has always been a route of last resort, but as the government continues to press ahead with its plans for Oak–disregarding the concerns of authors, edtech innovators, publishers, schools, teachers, unions, and many others across the school sector–we are left with no other option to protect the autonomy of teachers, the experiences of learners, and the UK’s world-class education resources sector. The court has recognized that these concerns deserve a proper hearing.

“The government’s current plans for Oak are an unprecedented and unevidenced intervention that risks causing irreparable damage to the school sector as we know it. It puts unnecessary strain on already stretched public funding for education–soaking up £45 million [US$56,205 million] of public money that could otherwise be given to schools directly. … As we have at every stage of this process, we urge the department for education to listen to these concerns, consult properly with stakeholders, and rethink its plans for Oak National Academy.”

And we’ll of course watch for further news in this developing story.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the UK’s Publishers Association and its work is here, more on authors is here, more on literary agents is here, more on educational publishing is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s publishing market is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.