Work in Publishing Week: Production

Posted 20.11.19 by prhcareers

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):