The London Starter Kit

So you’re looking for a job in publishing in London…

The thing is… it’s in an entirely new place and you’re going to have to up sticks, find accommodation, navigate how to get there, and *gulp* make new friends.

Moving to a new place for a job brings with it choices, and a little confusion and worry. And this can especially be the case if the place you’re moving to is London.

So this week, we’re sharing some tips on Twitter about what to think about when you’re moving to a new place. We’ve also put together a series of blogs (written by non-Londoners, for non-Londoners) on our tips for finding accommodation, travelling and meeting people – without hurting your bank account.

City-living may not be for everyone, but we hope these blogs will give you a starting point if you are considering a move. There are also a few tips coming up that will be helpful no matter where you are moving to. And if you come and join us – for work or work experience – at any of our 7 offices in Essex, Northamptonshire or London, there’s a few ways we might be able to help too.

Go ahead. Take that leap. Here’s where we suggest you start…

Where to start… finding a place to live?

Whether you’re relocating or here temporarily for work experience or an internship, it can be intimidating looking for accommodation if you aren’t familiar with London. We’ve put together some suggestions to help you get started.

Short-term stays

*Penguin Random House also has a subsidised place with The Book Trade Charity for our work experience placements; you’ll receive details on how to ask for this if you are offered a placement. You can see Eleanor’s blog about staying in The Retreat here or have a look at the apartment in our room tour.


There are plenty of online sites for group and individual property searches. Find Properly can search by your ideal commute time and shows what the public transport links are which is useful if you’re new to the city.

If you want to rent a flat and don’t have a group you can rent together with, try Spare Room, MoveFlat or Room Buddies.

Book in as many viewings as you can, because room availability changes at the blink of an eye in London. Be sure to double check whether bills and council tax are included, and make sure you’re not “jointly and severally liable” or you may be asked to pay up if a flatmate doesn’t pay their rent.

How our benefits and partnerships can help

 We are the proud sponsor of The Spare Room Project. The Spare Room Project matches interns or anyone doing work experience from outside London with people working in the publishing industry who can offer them a spare room or a spare bed for free for one week making internships more financially viable.

One Penguin Random House employee shares their experience with the Spare Room Project: “I can’t thank James enough for the encouragement, support and opportunity to stay with a publishing professional, I will pay it back, and know that if it wasn’t for James, I wouldn’t be working for Penguin Books. It is so important to take away the barriers that restrict those who live outside of London […] knowing that this scheme existed has allowed me to feel confident and not have to worry about the financial costs of staying in London.”

If you’re hoping to make your move to London a bit more permanent we can help there too. Home Sweet Loan can take a bit of the pressure off and help make the dream a reality as part of our wider focus on becoming a more inclusive employer.  Eligible to all our employees, including new joiners, this benefit offers an interest-free loan to help employees pay their rental deposit when moving into a privately rented home.

Other Links

Locrating: this shows you some top-line information about all schools in an area instead of having to trawl through individual school websites

Numbeo: a handy tool that compares cost of living in London to cost of living in your home town


Keep an eye out for our next blog where we offer you some top tips on getting around the city.

“We work on some really exciting brands – Lee Child, Dan Brown, Sophie Kinsella, Paula Hawkins and Terry Pratchett to name just a few – and we are also known for launching debut authors with huge success.”


How would you describe your role?

Once a book has been edited to perfection by our editorial team, it gets given to a marketer and a publicist to make sure the book gets in front of readers who will love it. When I’m allocated a book, I think about who the audience is, where to reach them and how to grab their attention so that this is the book they decide to buy.

What tasks are usually on your to-do-list?

Commissioning written features from authors for the Penguin website. This involves thinking about the kind of content people are searching for and working with the author to deliver it in a way that really sells their book.

Designing and printing posters and bookmarks for Waterstones and independent bookshops to ensure they have all the tools they need to sell our books to their customers.

Speaking to our advertising agency about an upcoming campaign. We work with the agency to decide the best place to advertise – in newspapers, in train stations, online.

Setting up social media advertising. When you see a promoted post on Facebook, it’s because the advertisers have selected you as someone who may be interested in that product. We try to define our audience and then work on what we need to tell them to persuade them to buy the book.


What are the key skills needed to excel in your role?

Oh it’s such a mix, which is why I love it so much! Marketing mixes creativity and strategy, so you need to be happy coming up with new ideas and prepared to think about how to reach your audience. You need to be organised and able to prioritise your tasks – we’re dealing with requests from bookshops, talking to our authors and working really closely with our colleagues in other departments.

I didn’t know how to use Photoshop when I started but I do now, and it is incredibly useful. I also work with budgets so even if you don’t love numbers you do need to be comfortable with filling in a spreadsheet!

Finally, what piece of advice or information would you share with someone who is deciding whether to apply for an internship?

There’s no better place to explore opportunities in publishing and we’ll ensure you get the most out of your time with us. We’re a really friendly and innovative team. This is an opportunity to use your skills and really make an impact in an exciting industry – we’d love you to apply.

If you’re interested in kick starting your career in Marketing, check out our Internship opportunities.

“Publishing sales is hugely rewarding both for those who love books and those driven by commercial success. In your first role, enthusiasm can go a long way!”


How would you describe your role?

The main purpose of my role as Online Key Account Manager is to increase physical and digital sales of Transworld titles through online platforms, such as Amazon and iBooks. This is achieved by making Transworld books more visible through price promotions and merchandising placement.

The other key part of my role is to communicate the details of digital promotions, sales revenue and market data back to the rest of Transworld, working closely with colleagues to identify opportunities for growth.

What tasks are usually on your to-do-list?

Working collaboratively with online retailers, curating a monthly selection of ebook titles for promotion. This could be a mix of recently published and upcoming (frontlist) titles, as well as identifying opportunities from the wider Transworld catalogue.

Maximising the impact of promotions. This may include making changes to the product description (such as cover images, blurb, keywords), or aligning digital promotions with wider marketing activity. This helps to increase and maintain title visibility during and after promotion.

Analysing previous promotional activity in order to better inform future decisions.


What are the key skills needed to excel in your role?

The key to sales roles at any level is to be well-organised, with the ability to multi-task and prioritise. You can develop this by creating clear ‘to do’ lists and working closely with your line manager to identify deadlines for each task.

Effective communication is very important for developing positive and collaborative relationships.

Finally, what piece of advice would you share with someone who is deciding whether to apply for an internship?

We are involved in the entire life of a book from acquisition through to reaching the hands of a consumer, working closely with all the other publishing teams along the way and continually deepening our understanding of the books market. Digital publishing is a hugely important growth area for the business and the possibilities for innovation and experimentation are endless.

If you’re interested in kick starting your career in Sales, check out our Internship opportunities.



From the outside, Marketing might seem like some dark art full of acronyms and analytics or a combination of both. But, to put it simply – it’s our job to promote our books to consumers.


As a Marketing Manager I’m responsible for creating campaigns which connect readers to books they’ll fall in love with. The ways in which we do this are endless but primarily this is through advertising, which can be anything from billboards in public places, gorilla or experiential marketing, placing adverts in magazines and newspapers, or online through social or web advertising.

Once I have my campaign strategy in place, day-to-day tasks involve bringing my campaign to life. To do this I need to identify our target audience with a little help from our Consumer Insight team who research all our different readers. Once I know exactly who I’m targeting I can then start brainstorming ideas as to how best to reach this audience and engage with them, this involves everything from competitions, video and asset creation, bookshop promotional items and advertising. After those details are decided I then spend a lot of time working with media companies booking advertising space and then with freelance designers to produce our assets, adverts or promotional items which we’ll use in the campaign.

“Marketing can be a very creative environment so having a strong imagination can definitely help generate ideas to help consumers discover our products. But you also need to be agile, if an idea isn’t working or a campaign takes a different direction you need to be able to adapt quickly.”

Having a growth mind set is important too, marketing is always developing and consumers are always changing so you need to be constantly learning and applying that new knowledge in your campaigns. Usually a marketer is working across several projects so multi-tasking and prioritising has to be second nature, as does reflecting on past campaigns to know what worked and what didn’t so you’re next campaign can be even more effective.

Reaching audiences, grabbing their attention and converting them into a valued customer can be a big challenge, especially in today’s busy entertainment industry. In order to stand out you need to be bold, innovative, strategic and tenacious. In the Penguin Random House Children’s marketing team we are continually striving to produce the best campaigns in the business because we’re really passionate about connecting our books with the people we know will love them.

If you’re interested in kick starting your career in Marketing, check out our Internship opportunities.

“I had plenty of freedom to come up with my own promotional strategies for the books I was working on”


This summer, I took part in a Communications and Editorial Internship with Penguin Life. I had just finished my university degree in English Literature and Psychology, and in the mid-exam flurry applying for the PRH summer internships seemed the perfect way to procrastinate!

I applied for four of the internships on offer as they all sounded fantastic, but I was particularly delighted to be shortlisted for Penguin Life’s, as their books are so inspiring. The second stage was a video interview through Penguin’s HireVue programme, followed by a final interview in person. Pretty soon I was packing my bags and leaving Ireland to begin! I think it’s important to only apply if you’re passionate about the type of books an imprint publishes. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate this passion in your interviews, and in any case you’ll have a much more rewarding time there if you’re working on books you really love!

During my time at Penguin Life, I worked primarily on social media for upcoming books and authors, scheduling posts and figuring out the best platforms for them to reach their audience. This involved lots of research on social media and websites, seeing which audiences were engaging with the content we put out, and finding ways to target our posts to even more closely match their interests.

I designed gifs and quote-cards (a great chance to improve my Photoshop skills!) wrote copy for posts, and talked authors through the best ways to use their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to increase their popularity. On the editorial side, I got the chance to help with preliminary work for books – creating samplers to send out to journalists in advance of publication, offering cover feedback, and helping to put pitch documents together to bring to leading figures we wanted to write for us. There were also many very fun trips shepherding authors to photoshoots, book signings and the BBC studios in the mix!

One of the most interesting projects I had was planning a Consumer Connect Away Day for my team. We were working on two upcoming titles and needed a really in-depth understanding of the audiences who would be likely to buy them. So, I organised a research day out of the office, putting together two routes which visited the shops and restaurants these consumers would be likely to frequent. We followed the routes, making notes and taking photos and taking time to actually experience a day in the life of these consumers. I had been doing so much online research prior to this, and it was fascinating to more literally “walk in the footsteps” of people, and really get a feel for what their lives and interests were like.

The internship was a fantastic opportunity to learn as much as I could about publishing and communications – I was able to sit in on planning and brainstorming meetings, offer my own suggestions, and I even got the chance to take a course improving my presentation skills.

I had plenty of freedom to come up with my own promotional strategies for the books I was working on, while always being able to ask for advice when I needed it. I’d advise anyone on similar internships to take every opportunity you can while there – I wish I’d done even more now that it’s over.

Made by Ruth for the Penguin Life Facebook

As I was browsing some of the unpaid internships in London, I could feel my heart sinking. How the heck was I going to afford this? Was my dream of working with books going to be unceremoniously squashed because I didn’t have the money for an Airbnb, or a conveniently located family member living in London with a sofa?

Then I stumbled across work experience at Penguin Random House. First of all, it was paid. Big tick. Secondly, it was only two weeks. Okay, if I was paid and it was only for two weeks, I could probably get an Airbnb or a hostel or something like that. So I applied. The first couple of times I didn’t get a placement, but then in September I struck gold and got a placement at Michael Joseph in the Marketing and Publicity department.

Just before I started ploughing through the internet again looking for affordable accommodation, I got an email asking if I would like to enter the ballot for accommodation provided by the Book Trade Charity for £75 a week. Yes please! I figured that loads of people would opt for this so I might not get it, but I think I underestimated how many people had strategically located family members. I did get the accommodation and was put in contact with the lovely Glenda.

The Book Trade Charity was established all the way back in 1837, and one of the things they have done is build The Retreat. This is a collection of houses, bungalows and flats nestled amongst little gardens and big trees in Kings Langley, aimed at providing a home for people in the Book Trade. So the Sunday before my placement, I piled my suitcase and half of Tesco (Thanks, Mum!) into my car and headed down south from rural Worcestershire.

I’d heard stories about the M25 being the world’s biggest car park, and I’d never driven anywhere near our great capital before in my life so I was a tad nervous. It turned out to be a really easy drive with lots of service stations to stop at for emergency meatball sandwiches from Subway.

As I said, I had quite a lot of food in my car already, but I thought I’d stop at a supermarket before heading to the Retreat to pick up milk and maybe some frozen chicken dippers. I googled supermarkets near Kings Langley and a Tesco in Hemel Hempstead popped up. Dear reader, if you learn only one thing from this post, let it be to never drive to the Tesco in Hemel Hempstead. If you do, you will encounter the Plough. I have been driving for a few years now, but nothing prepared me for this.

It’s a roundabout that gave birth to six mini roundabouts and it is quite possibly the most confusing thing I have ever come across. You definitely wouldn’t want this on your driving test! On the plus side, the locals didn’t seem to know how to drive on it either which made me feel a lot better. If you need milk, drive to the Sainsbury’s just outside Kings Langley, or walk 20 minutes to the Spar from the Retreat.

After the high octane drama of the Plough, I drove on to the Retreat and turned down a drive that curved between the cottages, bungalows and the manor towards the community centre that housed the office. I met Glenda and she showed me to No. 8 which would be my home for the next two weeks.

I absolutely loved my time there. There’s a gate on the far side of the property which leads to a path that goes under the M25 and pops out on the train platform. From No. 8 to 80 Strand it took me pretty much bang on an hour door to door which wasn’t too bad at all. Half an hour of that is on the train to Euston which is enough time to get stuck into a book. I came home in the evenings, cooked up some chicken dippers and settled down in front of my TV. There’s a DVD player and fortunately I’d packed some DVDS so I was able to snuggle down to some of my favourite films. The shower was decent, the kitchen was fully equipped and it really felt like a home away from home. The best bit was that I was given a key to the library in the old manor so I could tuck into a good book in the comfy armchairs.

I loved my work placement and I loved staying at the Retreat. So go on, click the button and apply for that work experience! You won’t regret it.

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