Jump-Starting a Career in Book Marketing

I took my first deep dive in publishing last summer as an editorial management intern with a corporate academic publisher. Ironically, I didn’t sit with the editorial staff; my cubicle was nestled in with the marketing people. Yes, academic journal marketing is different from book marketing, but after talking with the marketing employees and observing them all summer, I knew that marketing was the route I wanted to take.


So now I’ve begun the journey that all almost-college-grads must take: learning how to market myself. Or in my case, learning how to market myself to professional marketers. Yikes. As a business student specializing in publishing, I’ve had the good fortune to have been immersed in both the business and publishing worlds throughout college. Having knowledge on the industry you’re applying to is vital. If you aren’t able to actually take classes in marketing or even publishing, you are not out of luck. I’ve picked up a few different methods for breaking into book marketing during my self education on the industry.


Take Opportunities to do small scale marketing projects.


Since my first year at college, I’ve always been the person to raise my hand and say, “Yeah, I’ll do the marketing for this.” Of course, at first I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned as I went. I started small, with social media campaigns for a club, or a class project. Then I started taking on the role of Marketing Coordinator in bigger projects. Over time I grew a diverse portfolio without even knowing it. The key is to not be afraid to take a risk and say yes to any marketing opportunities.


Read. Read a bunch.


Almost every application in the book publishing world has one key requirement: passion for books. Of course, if you’re getting into book publishing, you probably love books. I sure do, but as I had gone to college and gotten busy, reading for fun had been pushed to the side. In high school I would rent audio-books from my library and listen to them every time I was in the car. In college, not so much. But if you’ve fallen out of the habit, you need to get back into reading again. Not only is it awesome to set aside non-screen entertainment time for yourself, but it’s important for someone going into book marketing. So this is me giving you permission to make time to read more.


Pay attention to book marketing.


Do you have a Twitter account? If your answer is no, make one. Then follow every book publisher you can find on Twitter. Pay attention to how they are marketing their books: look for trends, but also look for standout campaigns that compel you. I heard about Angie Thomas’s new book, The Hate U Give, about ten times before it was even released. You can see that certain books already have buzz before they’re even out—learn how that buzz is cultivated.


Market yourself.


This goes out to all my fellow internship and job seekers: learn how to market yourself. First, target jobs you really want to apply to. Second, thoroughly evaluate their job description. And third, tailor your own experiences and strengths directly to their posting. Job postings are there for a reason; they’re telling you exactly what they want! It’s your job to convince them that it’s you that they want. So market yourself just like you would market a product. Provide a compelling and succinct pitch of yourself in your cover letter, and back it up with an excellent resume. Of course, you should never exaggerate or lie, but highlight elements of yourself that would make you a perfect fit for this job.


I’m not going to pretend I have the key to landing any book marketing internship you want, because honestly I haven’t done that yet myself. (Please hire me.) But these are methods I’ve been using to try and break into the industry. I wish you good luck, and if you find the magical key to landing one of these jobs, let me know!