All The Bookish Jobs – Emily Gale

At the beginning of my blogging month, I mentioned that I’ve had a few different jobs that involve books. Here are all the bookish jobs I’ve done and the skills I think you need for each one. Do you think you’d be good at any of these jobs?

EDITOR: This was the first job I had when I left university. I worked for a book publisher called Penguin. Being an editor means you’re helping the writer to make their story as brilliant as it can be. This could be anything from helping with the storyline to making sure there are no tiny errors. It’s a really important role: even when a writer is fantastically talented, stories always benefit from having another person’s advice.

SKILLS YOU NEED: creativity, attention to detail, good judgement, honesty, compassion



READER: I know this sounds like a funny “job” but I really did work as a reader! This means that I was employed by a literary agent. A literary agent is like a writer’s manager. They find book deals, negotiate the money, sort out the contracts, all that sort of business. Literary agents are looking for new writers all the time. And if you’re a reader for a literary agent, it means that you read all the stories that people send in and decide which ones need more work and can’t go through to the next stage, and which ones are brilliant and should be read by the literary agent asap.

SKILLS YOU NEED: fast reading, knowledge of which stories are popular, good instincts about what makes a strong story


BOOK BUYER / BOOKSELLER: Someone who works in a bookshop is called a bookseller. When I was a bookseller, I was also a book buyer and that meant that I was in charge of choosing which books we would have in the shop and how many of each. I had to study the sale figures a lot and try to sell as many books as possible. I had meetings with publishers who would show me their books, so I could decide which ones I wanted for the shop. I also had to keep the shop tidy and looking great so that customers would want to come in and buy books. There were always lots of events going on, too, like book launches and book festivals.

SKILLS YOU NEED: good with customers, good at “selling”, knowledge of lots of different books


LIBRARIAN: Although I’m not a qualified librarian, I have worked in two school libraries and learnt a lot about what it means to be a librarian. I learnt how to catalogue books (which means put them in the giant computer system), and how to cover them (with a special plastic that gets air bubbles in it if you’re not careful). I learnt how to make fantastic displays so that children want to come into the library to borrow books. It’s also important to make sure that the library collection is very varied and up to date, that the books are not damaged, and that they are easy for people to find.

SKILLS YOU NEED: organisation, creativity, knowledge of lots of different books, good with computers


Which of these jobs do you think you’d be good at?

Until next time,



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