Publishing companies are traditionally responsible for distributing printed works, such as books, newspapers and magazines. In the book publishing industry, most companies are divided into several departments: editorial, publicity and promotion and marketing and production. The production department's job is to coordinate each step of publishing a title. The production assistant is a vital part of this department.
The production assistant helps the production editor in the copy-editing phase of a book. Production assistants check that spelling, punctuation and grammar are all correct. Additionally, they oversee the book's layout, making sure it is properly formatted and tracking all materials as they travel between the design and editorial departments. They work with typographers and binders to complete the book's physical construction. The production assistant is responsible for all of the administrative needs of the production department.
A bachelor's degree is almost always required in order to secure a production assistant position. It helps if that degree is in a related field, such as communications or graphic design, though not always necessary. A candidate for this job must have a strong command of the English language, both written and oral. Computer literacy is also very important. Those familiar with design software will have a strong advantage.
Because of the nature of work in the publishing production field, a production assistant must have a very acute attention to detail. A production assistant must be willing to put in long hours, as the production process can often be a grueling one. Publishing houses look for candidates with strong organizational and interpersonal skills.
For recent college graduates or those with little or no work experience, one way to break into publishing is through an internship. Interested candidates must identify companies where they want to work, then contact those companies about available opportunities. A lot of the skills needed in a publishing career come from experience; therefore starting early and learning from professionals can be an invaluable resource.