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24 January 2023

Accelerate your career with the Society of Young Publishers mentorship scheme

The Society of Young Publishers (SYP) was established in 1949 and is run fully by volunteers. Anyone who is in the first ten years of their publishing career can join the Society and serve on one of the committees.

The SYP helps people to get into and progress within the publishing industry through a range of events, conferences, partnerships, and schemes, such as the mentorship scheme. As an SYP member, you will be able to access various discounts from our partners, website job board and InPrint magazine.

With six national branches – in London, Oxford, the North (Leeds/Manchester), Scotland, the Southwest and newly launched in Wales – the SYP is a truly UK-wide organisation, with one more office in Ireland (Dublin).

The SYP mentorship scheme

Our mentorship scheme is a great opportunity to receive guidance, insights and personalised feedback from publishing experts. You don’t need to be an SYP member to apply. Last year, we had applicants from many different backgrounds, with candidates working across small independent publishers and the ‘big five’. If you think you could benefit from the mentorship scheme and have specific goals in mind, I would encourage you to apply.

Depending on the SYP branch, there are three mentorship schemes to apply for – Into, Ahead and Launch.

  • SYPInto is designed for those searching for their first job in the publishing industry
  • SYPAhead is aimed at anyone who is already working in the industry and looking to progress their career, and
  • SYPLaunch is for freelancers, those looking to start their company or progress in the industry in a less traditional way. Run by SYP UK, applications are welcomed from anyone based in England, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Check the SYP mentorship page for information on which scheme is available in your area.

Reshape your career in six months

The mentorship scheme lasts around six months and consists of a minimum of four one-on-one meetings between a mentee and a mentor, often held virtually. The exact structure is up to you and your mentor, but we suggest using the first meeting to further explore your goals and objectives and establish the structure for the remainder of the scheme.

SYP is also organising a virtual social event to meet mentors and mentees from the other schemes. This is a great networking opportunity, especially if you’re trying to break into the publishing industry, or have just moved to a new area for a job.

How to apply

SYP uses a blind application process to avoid any bias. Applicants indicate two publishing areas of interest, so we can match them with publishing experts with relevant experience and skills. Other questions are specific to the scheme but generally consider your motivations for applying and your specific goals and objectives. While we try to match as many applicants as we can, it very much depends on the availability of mentors in specific areas of the publishing industry.

My top tip is to make your objectives as clear and realistic as possible. This will emphasise that you know what you want to achieve from your mentorship and how it will benefit you. Those objectives are also a great starting point for the first meeting with your mentor.

Applications will open in May 2023 (to be confirmed) and successful applicants will be notified shortly after. The number of applicants varies by scheme and SYP branch, but last year we had over 100 applications for SYPInto in London.

Learn from inspiring mentors

To get the most of your mentorship scheme, remember that mentors are volunteering their time and knowledge, and are happy to answer your questions and offer their personal and unique insights. On SYPInto, for example, we were lucky to have mentors from publishing-recruitment agency Inspired Selection, who offered invaluable insights and tips for writing CVs and cover letters.

This year, both our schemes in London included professionals from trade and academic publishing, working across a broad range of departments – from editorial and marketing, to rights and agenting. We had mentors from publishers such as Penguin Random House (PRH) and Hachette, as well as many others.

While, unsurprisingly, there has been a huge interest in editorial from the applicants, we have seen numerous people interested in marketing and publicity and a significant increase in interest in rights, scouting and agenting. With physical book fairs returning after the pandemic, rights are more visible than ever.

My personal experience

I completed the SYPAhead mentorship scheme a while ago, when I was working in my first publishing job and looking to move into a different area of publishing. My mentor, a Rights Executive at PRH, was brilliant in explaining her role in greater detail and offering useful guidance and tips – from job-specific advice to working on my CV. By the end of my mentorship, I managed to land a job in rights.

Alicja Baranowska

Alicja Baranowska is Foreign Rights Sales Executive at Welbeck Publishing and Co-Chair of the SYP. Follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.

Follow the SYP on Twitter. Full details of how to apply for a place on the SYP’s 2023 mentorship scheme will be available in the upcoming months on the SYP website.