Jargon, shorthand and abbreviations are often a part the working day to day. But if you haven’t worked in that industry before, their particular words and phrases can be baffling!

Publishing shouldn’t be a mystery and that’s why we’ve pulled together an A-Z list of terms that we use in our business to help you navigate conversations and become familiar with how a publishing team operates.

Of course, if you’re in an interview or meeting and someone uses a term you don’t understand, just ask! Curiosity is one of the most valued traits in potential candidates and the interviewer will be more than happy to explain.

When a publisher ‘buys’ the right to publish a book from an author. The decision on whether to do so takes place in the acquisitions meeting (usually weekly), where an editor brings in colleagues from sales, marketing, publicity, production and finance to convince them to get behind the book.

A sum of money paid to an author upfront when they sign a contract with a publisher to publish their book. An author’s advance is typically paid in instalments – after signing a contract, after finishing their manuscript, after publishing in hardback and finally after publishing in paperback.

The short quote or paragraph of text on the back of a book that gives the reader a flavour of what the book’s about.

A book which has been published in the past but is still in print.

By this we mean the reader, not to be confused with ‘customer’, which refers to our distributors.

Another word for text or written material.

The process of reviewing, editing and correcting text, including manuscripts, for spelling, grammar and content errors.

The sequence of stages in a book’s creation and production that must be completed on time in order for the book to meet its publication deadline. Each book has its own schedule.

This usually refers to a bookseller who buys our products. Examples include Waterstones, Amazon and WHSmith, as well as less traditional or expected retailers, such as museums or gift shops.

A request that certain information not be published or made public until a certain date, or until certain conditions have been met.

Books published recently, usually in the current year.

A statement that captures what a book is about. A hook is supposed to entice you to want to read a book, whether you’re an agent, editor or consumer.

We think that the definition found on the World Intellectual Property’s website says it best: ‘creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create’. Our books are protected as intellectual property.

The unique identifying number for a particular book. Each edition of the book (e.g. paperback, hardback, ebook) will have a different ISBN.

Another word for a hardback book’s cover. If you hear of a ‘Jackets’ meeting, this refers to the meetings where decisions are made about a book’s cover.

The books a specific publisher or imprint has available or which are coming up.

The individual responsible for managing an author’s career, helping them to develop their work or sell their book to publishers. Agents are key to facilitating the relationship between the author and their editor. In return, agents take a percentage of an author’s earnings from the book.

When we post copies of our upcoming books (usually proof copies) to various people, including librarians, retail buyers, bloggers, journalists and many more. Mail-outs are a crucial part of our marketing and publicity campaigns, as they get people reading and talking about our books before they hit the shelves.

A draft or unpublished version of a book that is submitted to agents and/or editors for consideration.

Any information about a particular book. The title, author, price, sales territories, author biography, reviews and recommended age for children’s books are all examples of metadata. It’s vital for our print and online retailers, ensuring that our books can be found by readers.

Stands for Purchase Order, which is a purchasing document created by us for our external suppliers when they need payment.

This should accompany every mail-out so the recipient knows why they have been sent the book. It will briefly summarize what the book is about and why it’s so great.

An early, usually uncorrected copy of a book that publishers use to get people excited about a title before it’s published. Proofs can resemble the published version of the book, and are usually sent to journalists and bloggers to review, as well as to retailers to help persuade them to stock it.

The process of reviewing designed pages or other printed material, and marking up errors to be corrected.

When a book can first be sold to the public.

A business decision about a title to reflect either new, updated material or simply to reposition that title in the market.

The legal permission to publish something.

The amount paid to an author for each book sold – this will usually be a percentage of the sale price.

Selling extracts from a book to a newspaper or magazine.

Manuscripts a publisher receives directly from a writer without an agent. Most publishers, including Penguin Random House, will not read unsolicited submissions.

A sheet of paper, no longer than one A4 side, announcing a new publication. This will include bibliographic details, key selling points, a blurb, cover image, brief information about the author, when the book is available and how to order.

In addition to the right to publish in the UK market, publishers will often want to buy additional (subsidiary) rights. This could be translation rights, world rights (the right to publish the book in other markets around the world), or film or TV rights.

A poster or notice that’s on card. For author events at bookshops and libraries, showcards are often made containing information about the book and the event.

So, you’ve seen a role you’re interested in, but want to know what you should do next and what to expect.

Of course, there will be some variation in each recruitment process, based on the needs of the team. But hopefully this provides you with some guidance of how an application process will look with us.


You can also explore our other blogs for further interview tips, for example video interviewing.

Family quizzes, endless baking banana bread and whole days spent in pyjamas… Coronavirus has changed the daily landscape for so many of us and has meant a lot of uncertainty, particularly for those embarking on their first jobs or changing career paths.


That’s why our Head of Resourcing, Helen Firth, spoke with The Bookseller to provide some guidance and advice for those looking for their first jobs in publishing, explain how we are approaching our hiring process, and to share why she thinks there are lots of reasons to be optimistic.


Here are some of Helen’s top tips for things to do at home when looking for a role in publishing (along with baking banana bread, of course!):


  1. Use this time to develop your skills, including those that are useful in an office environment such as Microsoft Office Packages and G-Suite

  2. Do your research. Take the opportunity to learn how companies are adapting to Coronavirus as this will make a great talking point at interview and in applications, showing your commercial interest and engagement in the business

  3. Explore the different types of roles in publishing and see what would suit you and your strengths. You can explore some of our roles here.


Take a look at the full conversation Helen had with The Bookseller, as well as hearing great insights from Suzy Astbury from Inspired Selection and Author Alexa Shoen.




So you’ve been invited to a video interview?
Here’s all you need to know to make sure you get the job you want.

Video conferencing and remote working are happening more and more in the workplace, so naturally, video interviewing is also becoming more popular. Our aim here is to remove some of the mystery surrounding video interviews so that you can move forward in your application with confidence.

At Penguin Random House we use video interviews a lot and try to make the experience as human and engaging as we can by removing as much of the unexpected as possible.


What is a video interview?

Video interviews come in different forms. It could be a video call – using a platform like Skype or Zoom, where you follow a more traditional back and forth with the interviewer. Or, it can be via a platform like HireVue, which we use at Penguin Random House.

Depending on the platform used, your video interviewer might be present and engage in a conversation with you, or, as in the case with HireVue, there will be job-relevant questions that appear on the screen and give you a set time to record your response.

On HireVue, practice questions can be done ahead of time to get used to the format and we’d definitely recommend doing this so that you can get used to the approach. And don’t worry, your interviewer can’t access these practice sessions!


Why would we be asking you to do a HireVue interview?

If you get invited for a recorded video interview, you might think ‘why not just see me face to face?’  We understand that, and thought you might like to know why we take this approach.

We like it because it allows flexibility – and can actually speed up the application process. For example, if the manager travels a lot with work, or has a challenging diary, face to face interviews can be difficult to arrange and this could mean delays. Using a video interview means you can progress your application and the hiring manager can review your interview even if they’re offsite to keep things moving.

Video interviewing also means flexibility for you. You don’t have to take time off work, out of your studies or from caring responsibilities. You can take the interview from the comfort of your own home at any time of day and can answer the questions when you know you’ll be at your best. Similarly, if you don’t live near the company offices, it saves you money and time travelling to multiple interview stages.


How to get ready for a video interview

Think about it in the same way as you would a face to face interview and prepare accordingly: you want to make it clear to the interviewer why you’re the best person for the job. This means doing your research. Demonstrating an interest and awareness in the company will resonate with your interviewer. Care and preparation for an interview will always stand out.

Practice being comfortable talking about your experience. The key things a company will be looking for will be detailed in the advert, so take some time before the interview to reflect on your experience and find examples of where you’ve demonstrated these skills. There’s no need to prepare a script, but refreshing yourself of your skills and how they’d be relevant to the role means that even if you become nervous during the video interview, these examples will be front of mind.


Our top 3 tips

  1. We know that’s easier said than done. But remember that your interviewer, whether present on the video or watching later, is human too. They know that videos won’t always have the same flow as face to face, and they’ll be understanding that it’s a new format for many people. At Penguin Random House, many interviewers will have done a video interview themselves to get their current role so they can really relate to your experience. We are not looking for perfection!
  2. Prepare the space. Make sure that the room is free from distractions such as family or housemates, try to get rid of any background noise and test the Wi-Fi before you begin.
  3. Allow your personality to come through. We’ve seen many examples with some sort of mishap during the video, and how you deal with it, your ability to recover and your sense of humour are great traits, and often we end up inviting candidates who can demonstrate these to the next stage.


We hope you’ve found these tips useful, and good luck for any future video interviews.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who submitted an application for our internships this year.

We were astounded to receive over 3,000 applications and were blown away by the amount of care and effort that had gone in to all of them.

This feedback will aim to provide some more insight as to what made a good answer great for each of the questions asked, and some general tips for the applications as a whole.


Overall Tips


> Be sure to use examples rather than speaking in more general terms. We saw some very thoughtful answers but many hadn’t actually included a specific example, which is what the questions were asking for.


> Try to focus on just one example and use the 250 word limit to fully explain the situation and outcomes. Multiple examples often gave less opportunity to go into as much depth and context.


> Don’t forget to read through the answers before submitting for things such as typos. One of the qualities we’re looking for is good attention to detail, so this was important.


> We sometimes saw great answers but examples that actually would have better fitted in another category. E.g. when answering a question on initiative, people spoke about reaching out to angry customer – this may have suited the communication question better.


Question 1: Communication


There were a brilliant range of examples given – from working on group projects at school, to a difference in political or social opinions. Any example was a good example to give, but it’s important to demonstrate how you managed to build a relationship. In many examples, we saw really important points being made about the principles of good communication, but they were often missing a tangible example to back that up. As the question specifies “Tell us about a time” it is important to show where you have applied those principles in real life.


High scoring answers were those which went beyond a ‘telling’ approach and focused on the element of “relationship building” which the question asked for. Rather than simply providing evidence to the other person as to why they were right, good answers showed that the person took the time to consider the other person’s perspective, learnt and made adjustments to appeal to that person best, and were able to build a relationship as a result.


Winning the argument didn’t necessarily equate to building a relationship with someone, and this is where some answers could’ve developed further to explore the relationship element more thoroughly.


Question 2: Initiative


We were really impressed when marking this answer at the range of activities and variety of work that people had been involved with.


The really strong answers were able to make the key differentiation between simply responding to the situation with a common sense approach, and using their initiative to creatively solve a problem. They thought ahead, went above and beyond and added value to a situation.


We were most impressed with answers where someone was able to either predict or mitigate an issue before it arose.


For example: Noticing that a company filing system may bring up errors later down the line if it continued the way it was, so devising a new system, testing it and then offering it as a solution to the rest of the team.



Question 3 – Curiosity


This is a really enjoyable question for us to mark, as we learn so much from all the answers and see a wonderful range of topics and people of interest.


Great answers were able to demonstrate why both that subject matter expert would be interesting for them to talk to, but also how it would be interesting for others too. They were curious and showed a real engagement with the world around them, which is critical in any role in the publishing industry. Whatever role or department you’re in it’s important to keep asking questions, looking forward, and exploring many viewpoints.


We were most impressed with people who identified the relevant expert within that subject matter, demonstrating that they’d researched and already shown curiosity in that topic.



We really appreciate the time taken to complete these answers – the care and passion clearly came through.

Whilst cannot take everyone forward to the next stage, we do encourage you to take a look at our other opportunities on offer, and apply for our intern projects again next year if you’d like to.


Curious about publishing, but want to find out what it’s really like? Who better to share with you what a career is like at Penguin Random House than the people doing these jobs?

During Work in Publishing Week, our colleagues from Marketing, Design, Technology, Production, Publicity, Editorial, Sales and Distribution will share their insights. We’ll also be giving tips from our Resourcing team about how to make your application stand out.

Yesterday we spoke to Maddy about Sales and Today we’re talking to Lisa Branston about Distribution. Lisa is a Warehouse Operative.


Hi Lisa, could you tell us one thing that would surprise people about your job?


Lots of women are now being trained as forklift drivers, and I love my job! We have a warm warehouse and a great restaurant on site. We get to do a lot for charity – like going into schools to read to children to get them interested in books.

We’ve even had some of our incredible authors come and visit the warehouse and do book signings.


What skills do you need to work in Distribution?


Of course, you need a great work ethic, and a helpful, friendly positive attitude. You should be open to be trained in new areas.

There’s a lot of teamwork so good communication, patience with newly trained staff and a willingness to help others are good skills for distribution.

As a forklift truck driver, you also need to be comfortable with physical exertion in your day-to-day job.



Top tips for applying for a job in Distribution from our Resourcing team:


Our warehouses are busy; we ship over 180 million titles every year, and if you’ve ever delivered a project to meet targets, highlight this in your application to help it stand out.

If you’d like to get into Distribution, we’ll be looking for examples showing that you’re logical. You could tell us about a time you’ve worked through a problem or obstacle successfully in your cover letter to display these skills.

In Distribution, you’d be working with a large team, and see lots of new faces every day. If you’re great at working with others, and communicating with all sorts of people, at various levels, be sure to let us know.


Hear more about what the day to day involves from Toby Lousada, Distribution Operations Director:



Curious about publishing, but want to find out what it’s really like? Who better to share with you what a career is like at Penguin Random House than the people doing these jobs?

During Work in Publishing Week, our colleagues from Marketing, Design, Technology, Production, Publicity, Editorial, Sales and Distribution will share their insights. We’ll also be giving tips from our Resourcing team about how to make your application stand out.

Yesterday we spoke to Tehreem about Editorial, and today we’re talking to Maddy Bennett about Sales. Maddy is a Sales Operations Coordinator:


Hi Maddy, could you tell us one thing that would surprise people about your job?


I think the amount of behind-the-scenes work in Sales would surprise people, as well as how early in a book’s conception the Sales Team and Sales Operations get involved.


What skills do you need to work in Sales?


People skills and, increasingly, decent computer skills. You need to convince customers to choose to use their platforms and space for the books you represent instead of other publishers’, and you also need to be able to talk to and work with all the teams that are involved in getting books from a manuscript to a bookshop. This involves working across many different programs and systems, keeping on top of things through reporting and/or just pestering the right people by email.



Top tips for applying for a job in Sales from our Resourcing team:


Have you ever done any campaigning or fundraising that demonstrates your abilities as a salesperson? For our Sales roles, we’re looking for an engaging cover letter where you’ve flexed your selling skills.

If you have any retail experience, that’s also something that would stand out to us. In the role, you’d need to chat to our customers and deliver great service to strengthen and maintain relationships, so if you have transferrable skills in this area, be sure to let us know.

You’d also work with people in a variety of other teams, so if you’re good at adapting your communication style, for example working with a variety of people from different backgrounds, make sure you show that off in your application.

If you’re looking to get into sales, the ability to learn and use new systems is something you could highlight, as well as an eye for detail. We use specialised publishing systems, which feed information into our sales platforms, so the data has to be accurate. You could demonstrate this in your application with a course you’ve attended, or fantastic Excel skills. Perhaps you’ve had to learn something new to pull off a project or use a specific database.


Hear more about what the day to day involves from Cat Dowlet, Key Account Manager in the Sales team at Ebury:




Curious about publishing, but want to find out what it’s really like? Who better to share with you what a career is like at Penguin Random House than the people doing these jobs?

During Work in Publishing Week, our colleagues from Marketing, Design, Technology, Production, Publicity, Editorial, Sales and Distribution will share their insights. We’ll also be giving tips from our Resourcing team about how to make your application stand out.

Yesterday we spoke to Sriya about Publicity, and today we’re talking to Tehreem Tahir about Editorial. Tehreem is an Editorial Assistant at Ladybird.


Hi Tehreem, could you tell us one thing that would surprise people about your job?


It really is as fun as it seems!

At a junior position like mine, you would assume there is just a lot of admin that needs doing – which is true to a certain extent – but there is constantly an abundance of opportunities for me to get stuck into.

From the offset, my wonderful team have encouraged me to get involved in projects that interest me and are always looking to hear from me with any ideas I may have.

They always empower me, nurture my growth and treat my ideas with value and respect – as they would with anyone else in the team!


What skills do you need to work in Editorial?


Proofreading and copy-editing will probably be the two main skills people associate with a role in Editorial and whilst these are both key to an extent, there is so much more involved.

It will come as no surprise that clear and strong communication skills are essential. Working in Editorial will mean that you’ll be speaking to several people – both internal and external to the company – so the ability to communicate clearly is vital. You will need a good eye for detail, confidence to share your creative input and exceptional organisational skills to juggle the many tasks you’ll be handling at any given time.

The best thing about the skills you need and those you gain from working in an Editorial team is that they highly transferrable and can always be applied, wherever you are in your career.

It’s also very important to remember that the skills you have aren’t set in stone – you are constantly learning, refining and growing them. It’s not only about the skills you bring but also those you learn along the way!


Top tips for applying for a job in Editorial from our Resourcing team:


Firstly, a love of books is definitely something we’ll be looking for. Are you up to date with the latest titles? It’s helpful in your application to let us know what type of books you’d particularly enjoy working on – whatever they are. If you have an up to date book review blog, or social media platform – share the link so we can get to know more about your passion for books.

For your application to stand out, be sure to read the job description and get an idea of the type of books the division you’re applying to publishes, and let us know your knowledge of the trends going on in that area.

Collaborating with others is also part of the job, and any experience with customer service, or completing projects with others would be a real bonus. Organisation is also an essential skill. Perhaps you’ve worked as an assistant, or helped to coordinate a project, making sure that everyone was in the right place, at the right time, with all the right resources.


Hear more about what the day to day involves from Frankie Gray, Publishing Director at Transworld:


Curious about publishing, but want to find out what it’s really like? Who better to share with you what a career is like at Penguin Random House than the people doing these jobs?

During Work in Publishing Week, our colleagues from Marketing, Design, Technology, Production, Publicity, Editorial, Sales and Distribution will share their insights. We’ll also be giving tips from our Resourcing team about how to make your application stand out.

Yesterday we spoke to Sian about Production and today we’re talking to Sriya Varadharajan about Publicity. Sriya is a Press Officer at Michael Joseph.


Hi Sriya, could you tell us one thing that would surprise people about your job?


It’s not all parties! Publicity means shouting about our books in all kinds of creative ways, whether that’s by working with our authors to come up with fascinating feature ideas for newspapers, accompanying our authors to events, getting them on television to talk about why their book matters, or organising an attention-grabbing stunt. Though we do love to party, we get the most satisfaction out of giving our brilliant books the best chance to find their audience.


What skills do you need to work in Publicity?


You need to be flexible and organised, and to have a cool head. Publicity is as much about solving unexpected problems as it is about planning an intricate campaign. Most importantly, you need a sense of creativity and humour!



Top tips for applying for a job in Publicity from our Resourcing team:


Publicity is a great department to get into if you’re great at engaging people, and your enthusiasm is infectious.

We’ll be looking out for evidence that you’re good at being able to convince people. Perhaps you’ve managed to negotiate free products for an assignment, or successfully promoted something you’re passionate about with a social media campaign.

You’d be keeping track of reservations, arrangements, expenses and the smaller details to help projects run smoothly, so we’ll also be looking for some demonstration that you’re organised. Perhaps you’ve been a social secretary for a group, or enjoy arranging events.

If you’ve been part of a project that involved writing, for example for a student publication, tell us in your application. This is an excellent skill set to highlight for writing press releases.


Hear more about what the day to day involves from Tom Hill, Publicity Manager :


Curious about publishing, but want to find out what it’s really like? Who better to share with you what a career is like at Penguin Random House than the people doing these jobs?

During Work in Publishing Week, our colleagues from Marketing, Design, Technology, Production, Publicity, Editorial, Sales and Distribution will share their insights. We’ll also be giving tips from our Resourcing team about how to make your application stand out.

Yesterday we spoke to Callum about Technology, and today we’re talking to Sian Pratley about Production. Sian is a Production Controller:


Hi Sian, could you tell us one thing that would surprise people about your job?


One thing that would surprise people about my job is that I get to put books together (to send to a printer, rather than make them myself!) and make books look as beautiful or appealing as possible. I think lots of people don’t know my job exists or think we do all the boring admin behind a book but it’s really technical and changeable, and there’s always a book that’s pushing the boundaries on our knowledge and comfort zones in order to stand out!


What skills do you need to work in Production?


The skills you’d need to work in production were described to me on my work experience placement: a love of stationery, super organisation and a keen eye for detail. Now that I’ve been here for a few years I totally agree.

We project manage the book from manuscript to finished copy and have to look after lots of files and budgets for multiple titles on the go. I colour correct images a lot of the time too, so that they print on paper how they look on screen, so it’s good to be able to think creatively about how to adjust a file to do that.



Top tips for applying for a job in Production from our Resourcing team:


Some understanding of what goes into making a book really helps your application stand out if. If you want to get into production, and you’ve designed a zine, booklet, or poster and know about all the logistics that go into a printed product, we’d like to hear about it.

Can you spot when a design isn’t perfectly centred, or which colours are the best for print vs digital? Good visual attention to detail is also something we’d be looking out for in CVs and cover letters. For example, if you’ve worked on a newsletter or project where you’ve had to think about the practicalities of formatting and printing a finished product.

If you have negotiation and project management skills, they’re good skills to highlight in your application. In Production, you’d be working within deadlines and budgets and working with teams from editors to printers, sales colleagues to warehouses. If you’ve worked on a project where you’ve had to juggle multiple priorities and requests – calling in favours or getting the best deal, be sure to let us know in your application.


Hear more about what the day to day involves from Catherine Ngwong, formerly Senior Production Manager at Penguin Random House Children’s (she now works in Ebury, another of our publishing houses):


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