I find there are two American sites that are worth reading often.
They are firstly Publishers Marketplace, which is affiliated with the Publishers Lunch Service which is excellent if something of a sting at $20.00 a month, but it makes for entertaining reading.
Second is Publishers Weekly, the website of the Trade magazine and it like Publishers Marketplace offers a job search or jobs board function. Keeping an eye on these will give you a good idea of the types of positions that are available and the skills publishers look for.
I would also recommend using Simply Hired to do a locality search on terms like Editor and Publishing (Or Publicity or sales depending on your preferred route into publishing). I love Simply Hired it is smooth and can be used to provide an RSS feed to your RSS reader of mail client. Excellent!
One of the things that really annoys me is the negativity that sometimes surrounds publishing and the doomsayers who try and steer people away from careers in publishing. There are people who say that you need to be very luck, that only a few people make much money in publishing and that the industry is very tough. They say that the future is not as open as it once was that opportunities are limited.
I reject it all.
Publishing, like many industries where there is a perception of “coolness” or “glamour” or at least the prospect of an interesting lifestyle, attracts many talented and capable people. Naturally such people are competitive and so the environment in most companies is both challenging and combative but I would content no more so than any other industry filled with talent people and limited promotional avenues.
In these circumstances the talented will be reward, those not talented enough will either have to accept their lot or find new employment. In fact this is well described in Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner which by the way is a truly excellent read. The point here is that like every industry there are prospects for the talented and those who show promise and ability will climb any ladder.
To mind this puts paid to luck too, though it can sure help to be lucky, ability and effectiveness will do your career a hell of a lot more good than luck.
Openness of the Industry:
I can at least see where this perspective comes from. The business is dominated by large corporations and the chances of setting up a new company that can effectively compete with one such as Bertelsmann or Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH is unlikely. But I draw your attention to Google, a company that swiped the search market from Yahoo and MSN. I point to Ryanair which battled entrenched state operators to become one of the largest airlines in Europe.
If enough innovation, effort and genius is applied then there is no reason to believe that new and exciting companies can emerge from any generation of publishers. Indeed with the change that the industry faces now there is every reason to suspect that there is a new model for the business lurking in the brain of some young turk and that twenty years from now the behemoths will be as moribund as Microsoft now appears (though I stress the appears for Microsoft. A company with as vast a pile of cash as Microsoft’s is never defeated).
If you are the person who succeeds within publishing then rewards will follow you. If you happen to be the Young Turk who revolutionising the industry then hang on for the ride, the stock market flotation and media glory that comes with it. If you are neither then publishing probably will not return much money. The entry level pay is not excellent and that is because the competition is high. After that stage a comfortable living can be made though and that is a point not to be missed and rarely made.
I have long admired Oxford University Press. Both in terms of the material it publishes and the way it combines excellence with commercial acievement, showing that good books can make money and so can academic books.
One of my former colleagues now works for them in Oxford and she confirms much of my suspicions about how good a company they are to work with.
The US division is quite distinct and operates an excellent blog here and should really be on everyone’s must read list if only for its breadth of subject matter and quality of writing and blogger.