Publishers representative
Literary & Communicators

Working to sell new books to shops and organisations by visiting clients and managing the sales process.

Work Activities

Publishers representatives or publisher's sales representatives work for publishing companies selling books to shops, wholesalers, businesses, libraries and schools. They form relationships with clients to facilitate the sales process and look for new opportunities. They can also support the publishing manager with administrative and office tasks. With the rise in on-line books the publisher's representative role is changing with publishers having to secure digital as well as physical sales.

Job responsibilities include:

  • Visit clients and helping with marketing to customers.
  • Sales presentations to customers, this has to be very catchy as the timing can be short, sometimes as little as 30 seconds when speaking to a multinational retailer.
  • Supports publishing manager with administrative and practical support
  • Maintaining relationships with clients, customers and suppliers as well as internal departments.
  • Finding new markets for books.
  • Handling enquiries.
  • Preparation of reports.
  • Attending and coordinating meetings and conferences.
  • Keeping up to date with changes in the market place and literary trends.
  • Some representatives are on a salary with a part commission basis.
  • Export sales will involve work abroad.
  • Time is spent in the office and in the field, with some based at home.
  • There are opportunities throughout the UK but the majority of these are in London.
  • There are opportunities for freelance and temporary work.
  • Promotion is to publishing manager or management of sales department.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for publishers representatives

  • An interest in books and desire to promote them.
  • Knowledge of the field of publishing.
  • Excellent communication skills both written and verbal.
  • Persuasive personality and sales ability.
  • Creativity and thinking 'outside the box'
  • Ability with numbers.
  • Good planning and organisation to keep track of orders.
  • IT skills are important.
  • Familiarity with marketing and social media marketing.
  • Ability to quickly read and analyse material.
  • Time management skills and motivation as much of the work will be unsupervised.
  • Some work is part-time.
  • The work is often solitary with long times in the car.
  • Driving licence is often required.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers

  • Publishing companies of all sizes.
  • Can be self-employed, though the majority of publisher's representatives work for companies.
  • It can be good to follow publisher's blogs to see when they are recruiting.
  • You can find vacancies in publisher's magazines such the Bookseller (also online), online recruitment agencies, publishing websites, specialist recruitment agencies.


England and Wales

Qualifications and training required

Prior experience of working in publishing is useful and you may work in another role before progressing to publisher's representative.

Most people working in publishing have a degree in communication, journalism, English, marketing, business or public relations and although not essential, this would certainly be an advantage. Some publishers do not specify a subject for a degree. If you are working for a technical publisher then a degree in that area would be useful as you would need knowledge of the subject e.g. science, history or art. There are industry specific postgraduate qualifications such as an MA in publishing which while unlikely to be a pre-requisite for the job could be an asset. A postgraduate qualification could also be an advantage in that it will also supply the graduate with a network from which find work.

Several companies offer graduate internships and work experience, which are an acknowledged way into the industry. Many large companies operate graduate recruitment schemes.

Once in the post there is the need to do on the job training and a commitment to research into new publishing trends. The Association of Learned and Professional Publishers runs courses to level 3, short courses and seminars.


In Scotland courses in the above subject areas are available at college. Higher National Certificate/Diploma courses tend to require 1 to 2 Highers to include English or another English based subject. University courses in these areas usually require 4 Highers (Grades A – C) in addition to National 5 English and Maths.

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