What A Book Marketer Actually Does, According To Penguin Random House's Leila Siddiqui

by Kerri Jarema
Ruth Black/

There are many career options in publishing — just some of which include book editor, literary agent, book scout, audiobook producer, and book cover designer, but book marketer might be one of the most highly coveted positions. Book marketers are the people who, simply put, get books in front of readers by working with sales teams, editors, social media teams and more to make sure that the right readers are hearing about the right books. But what exactly does a job in book marketing entail day to day? Leila Siddiqui, Associate Marketing Manager at Penguin Random House, puts it simply in an interview with Bustle: "My job is to find an audience for the particular book I’m working on, and I do that in a myriad of ways."

It's breaking down all those "myriad of ways" of bringing books to their readers that makes book marketing one of the most interesting and fast-paced publishing careers. And if you're hoping to break into the publishing world through marketing, Siddiqui has all the advice you'll need to make your dreams a reality. And the best part? It's never been a better time to start.

"It’s never too late to get into publishing. It’s definitely an apprenticeship based system where you start entry level and grow within your department, but you can start in publishing at any time," Siddiqui says. "I was several years older than your average entry-level candidate, and I met many around my age who were the same and now are thriving and growing within their respective careers. As long as you target the right kinds of internships or have some relevant work history, it’ll help open doors for you."

Leila Siddiqui, photo courtesy of Paul Clarke

Keep reading below for more from advice from Siddiqui on breaking into the field, the day-to-day responsibilities and lessons she's learned as a book marketer in the rapidly changing publishing industry:

Book Marketing Encompasses Advertising, Social Media, And Operations, So No Work Day Is Exactly The Same

"If we have any money behind advertising, I book ads through vendors that would best serve the audience of the book, and set up Facebook and Google ads as well to reach them," Siddiqui says. "I also create a detailed social media timeline to schedule out social posts on all of our platforms and create an outreach or partnership list to send out promotional copies. We have an in-house creative team that helps create social cards, book trailers, and GIFs that we share far and wide on socials."

"Another aspect of my job is on the operations side of things. Books feed out to retailer sites nine months prior to their pub date, my job is to make sure all copy is good (while working closely with editors and copy editors) and to ensure all data flows smoothly when the title feeds out to retailer sites," she adds.

Your Career Path Might Not Be Conventional, And That's OK

"I had an unconventional career path. I had always wanted to work in book publishing, but never thought I had a place there," Siddiqui says. "So I worked in sales and marketing for a number of years before I worked up the courage to go back to school to major in English in order to get a job in publishing. Because of my sales and marketing background, I knew I wanted to work in book marketing and had two [major publishing house] marketing internships before being hired permanently at Dutton."

But You Don't Have To Study English Or Communications To Work In Publishing — It's Beneficial To Be Well-Rounded

"I first studied anthropology years and years ago, and then when I wanted to switch careers and get into publishing, I went back to school to get a degree in English with a concentration on literary criticism. I think both majors had an impact on my career," Siddiqui says.

"Anthropology is the study of human science and behavior, in which society and culture plays a big part. And literary criticism is the close study and interpretation of literature. Both combined, I feel, really benefited me working in the industry. You don’t necessarily need a degree in communications or marketing to work as a marketer in publishing. I have known others with a variety of educational backgrounds, including Anthropology and Creative Writing."

Paid Internships Are A Great Way To Break Into The Field

"I think everyone has had unique paths that led them to publishing, so I don’t know if there is any right one. But I do believe that internships are the best way in," Siddiqui says. "It’s where you learn the industry lingo, where you see how departments are structured, how your manager(s) tackle their day to day work. And it gives you a step up when you do land your first job, because by then, hopefully you know what an ARC or a TI sheet is!"

Your Resume Is Actually A Key Component In The Success Of Your Job Search, So Use It To Your Advantage

"The biggest advice I can give which has helped me and others I know, is if you’re applying to a job and they have a platform where you upload your resume and cover letter rather than emailing to a specific person, it’s very easy to get lost in that platform," Siddiqui says.

"The best way to get noticed and for the algorithm to pick up your resume and cover letter is to include as many keywords from the initial job posting as possible in both your resume and cover letter if they are relevant to your work experience (as in, don’t throw in 'planned social media strategies' unless you actually did.) It’s worked for me and others I know!"

Be Purposeful In Making Connections In Your Chosen Field

"When I knew I wanted to work in publishing, everything I did was highly targeted to get me there. So that meant pursuing marketing internships and networking and making connections with the people who I met through those internships," Siddiqui says. "Publishing can be a small world. Everyone knows someone, and it helps to make connections as you [work] your way to your first publishing job."