The Cover Letter That Got Me Into Publishing

So I got a job in publishing! As of last Monday, I am the editorial and audio assistant at Watkins Publishing. It’s been a wild journey. I never thought I’d be trying to find a job and writing hundreds of cover letters amid a pandemic. But we got there! And since announcing it on my Twitter and Instagram, I’ve had a few questions about my application process, and specifically my cover letter.

A big thank you to the Publishing Hopefuls Facebook group, where I first saw this job advertised. I’d definitely recommend joining this if you’re applying to publishing jobs as it’s a great place to share advice, positivity and support.

First off, there are so many amazing publishing people who have resources on publishing applications (such as cover letters), who have far more experience and authority on the matter. A few that helped me were:

Carl @ ThatPubBlogger on Writing Cover Letters
Chloe and Emma @ Pub Interns and their Cover Letter Masterpost
Sophie @ Romantic, Rebels and Reviews on The Difficulty of Cover Letters
Suzanne @ Book Careers Podcasts
Ellie @ EllesBellesNotebook on How To Write a Standout Cover Letter

Next I’d also like to add that the job I got was with a smaller independent publisher – not one of the Big 5. I applied to so many positions with companies such as Hachette and Penguin and only ever got through to the interview stage once. This is of course not the perfect cover letter, even when applying to an indie publisher. When I read it back now, there are things I would improve or change, and I’m sure you’ll spot things as well. You’ll have also noticed I hadn’t read any books by the publisher prior to applying to this role (I did read some before the interview stage) so I instead focussed on connecting with, and showing knowledge of, their genres. But hopefully it’s another resource you can use to break into the industry! Note: I have redacted the names of previous companies I’ve worked for.

So here goes:

[insert my personal details in top right corner – email, phone number, address, date].

Dear [insert first + last name of hiring manager],

I am writing to apply to the Editorial and Audiobook Assistant position at Watkins Media. I am an English graduate and enthusiastic book blogger excited to employ my editorial and administrative experience in an entry level publishing role.

During lockdown, I have become increasingly aware of my own mental and physical health. Being forced to largely stay at home and even work from home has led me to make some lifestyle choices. I started running, exploring healthier cooking and experimented in more diverse and creative distractions from my computer screen, from knitting to photography. I am really enthusiastic about the opportunity to contribute to books that explore wellbeing further. When looking on your website, I am particularly drawn to your self help and personal development book list and look forward to exploring more of these titles.

I have experience contributing to the editorial and production publishing process at [insert publishing company name]. Here, I worked on various projects under four different editors. I utilised Trello to ensure excellent time management whilst juggling different projects, all with competing deadlines. One of my main roles was to check the quality of copy, index and reference checks by freelancers, as well as to proofread a maths guide written in-house and commissioned by the local council. This has given me a familiarity with style sheets and experience proof-reading and checking freelancer work, all of which I can apply when working on the Watkins Media lists.

In my current role for [insert tech company name], I am in charge of coordinating all upcoming conference speakers, keeping track of what information they have given us and following up on details we are still waiting for. Not only does this require high levels of communication and organisation, which I could employ when liaising with authors and freelancers, my work putting these details onto the website has also required a great attention to detail. My role is largely to provide administrative support to the director, answering emails, booking meetings and updating Excel spreadsheets for information collection and budgets. This, along with other administrative experience detailed on my CV, would allow me to make a valued contribution to the administrative workings of the company.

I think this role would allow me to become a vital, efficient and enthusiastic team member, contributing to the editorial and administrative workings of both Watkins Publishing and Nourish Books. I am eager to expand on my editorial skills whilst also learning more about the production of audiobooks. Please find attached my CV and a copy of this covering letter.

Yours Sincerely,

Brittany Willis

Good luck with your own applications! Please feel free to reach out to me if you had any questions or wanted me to write another blog post – perhaps on my interview or my first week in the job!

And remember, there are so many amazing people that are willing to offer help on Twitter – don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions.

Happy reading 🙂

7 thoughts on “The Cover Letter That Got Me Into Publishing

  1. Honestly, thank you Brittany! Thank you for adding the template as it gives others a chance on how to structure theirs a bit more. And congratulations on your new role! It’s nice to hear others getting into the publishing industry. Here’s hoping I’ll be next!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That was very useful! Thank you Brittany! The idea of a blog article on the interview process/ first week on the job sounds awesome! I’d be very grateful if you could share that with us! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I’m currently writing one about my first week (due to go up next week I think) and will start thinking about one focussed on my interview! 🙂


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