World Book Day: The careers behind a bestseller

Choose a career in books and every day will be a page-turner!

3 minutes

girl looking worried down at her books

What book are you reading just now? Put it down for a second, read this article and learn how you can play a part in the next hot read.

Famous novelist Toni Morrison once said: 'If there's a book you want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.' If you dream of writing a book – now's the time to go for it!

But if writing isn’t your genre – don’t worry! We’re about to walk you through the range of careers involved in each step of the book publication process.

After all, there’s so much more to books than just the words.

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1. Author. A good book needs great words – that’s what an author does. They will spend a lot of time doing research, interviewing people and of course, writing! Sometimes, an author will come up with an idea for a book. It’s also common for a publisher to approach them with an idea and ask if they’d like to write about it. Of course, some authors may choose to self-publish a book.

2. Editor. Next, it falls onto the editor’s desk. Once the author submits their book manuscript, or a section of it, an editor will review in-depth aspects of the writing like sentence structure and plot coherence.

3. Assistant editor/proofreader. These people are eagle-eyed word enthusiasts. Once the editor has given the manuscript a once over, an assistant editor/proofreader will scan every word. In this role, you’d spend most of your time proofreading and checking for accuracy. You may also suggest other ideas to the author to help spark life into their writing. If you dream of becoming an editor, this job is a perfect starting point.

4. Formatting professional. Think about your favourite book, then think about the book you last read. Did the inside of each look a little bit different? Once the words are ready, a formatter will design the book’s interior and arranges the text so it’s ready for printing. They will also lay out all the different editions - like the eBook, paperback and hardback.

5. Illustrator. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it helps if it looks nice! An illustrator will design the book cover and inside pages, working closely with the author and editorial team. You’ll need artistic flair to do this role as it’s important a book’s cover accurately reflects what’s inside and intrigues potential buyers.

6. Marketing assistant/executive. Once the cover’s been beautifully made, the marketing team will spring into action. Their main role is to create interest in the book a few months before it’s released. To do this, they’ll identify blogs, news outlets and media platforms where they’d like to promote the book. Marketing workers then build relationships with these people and persuade them to promote the new book. They’ll also take charge of the book’s social media accounts and search engine optimisation.

7. Rights assistant. Want to contribute to a book while working mostly in an office? A career in the rights department could be perfect for you! A rights assistant provides general admin support to the editorial and management teams. Their main job is to handle contracts and invoices while coordinating promotions and sales channels ahead of the book’s release.

female writing in notebook in front of laptop

8. Rights manager. Generally, a rights manager starts off as a rights assistant. They negotiate rights for foreign editions of the book and build relationships with clients to secure commercial contracts. Ahead of the book’s release, rights managers work hard to make sure it reaches as many beneficial sales channels as possible.

9. Printers. Is this the most magical part of the process? We think so! Nothing compares to that feeling of seeing a new book in print for the first time. Printers are experts in the physical make-up of books. They’ll work closely with the author and editorial team to pin down exactly how it should be put together. A printer then makes sure the pages are in the right order, pressed and trimmed before binding the book together.

10. Booksellers. It’s the last step but arguably the most important. Once a beautiful book has been created, someone needs to sell it! Booksellers order books from the publishers and help get them into the hands of interested readers. As a bookseller, you’ll probably work in a shop. This means you should have good customer service and communication skills. But a passion for books is the difference between a good bookseller and a great bookseller.​​​​​​​

Have you bookmarked the perfect job yet?

Great! Our careers advisers can talk you through how to get in and where to start your journey.