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Get a Job in the Textbook Publishing Industry

By Edited May 14, 2016 1 1

Sales and Consulting Jobs with Textbook Companies

I consider myself  lucky to have spent my career in the textbook industry. After getting a degree in elementary education, I did what follows naturally and taught school, kindergarten and  first grade. After teaching for five years and with a baby due, my husband and I made the decisi

Textbook Sales
on that I would stop teaching and be a stay at home mom.

That plan cut short when, after staying home for about ten months, I received a call from a sales representative who worked for a textbook company. A principal at the school where I taught had given him my name. He asked if I would be willing to do some per diem work for him showing textbooks to teachers in schools. I could decide which days to work and if I even wanted to work on any given day.  Later, after our children were  in school, I entered the business full-time.

The Textbook Industry in the United States

As of 2011, essentially there are three major, core textbook companies in the United States; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Holt McDougal, Pearson, and McGraw Hill/Glencoe. Mergers have brought the number of companies down. Of course, a plethora of smaller companies do business too. A significant difference is that the three companies above publish a full range of textbooks.  Scanning their catalogs reveals reading, math, social studies, science, and everything in between. Smaller companies publish supplemental type products and possibly one or two core programs.  Of course, there are some mid size companies who also publish reading and math materials. Entering the scene are many technology companies.  Opportunities for jobs in the textbook publishing world do exist.

Full Time Field Jobs in the Textbook Industry

Basically there are three field jobs in the textbook industry; sales representative, consultant, and field manager. Sales representatives have a territory and are responsible for sales of the company's product there. In less populated states, there might be one or two representatives for the entire state. In bigger states, like Texas, Florida, New York and California, the sales forces are considerably larger. They are responsible for establishing relationships with key people in their districts, ordering samples of products for their schools, presenting those products, and setting up training for use of those products once sold. Consultants work with multiple sales representatives across several states. They are the presenters in the industry and travel place to place to show the product, usually in more formal, stand-up type presentations.  Of course, sales representatives must also be presenters as they will not always have a consultant there with them to present. Field manager's positions exist for both sales and consultanting.

Per Diem Consultant Jobs with Textbook Companies

One of the best ways to enter the textbook industry is to get a part-time job, like a per diem consultant. The income can be substantial, but it is not consistent, so be sure and note that. The per diem consultants  work when it is busy, when extra support is needed. The textbook business is cyclical, being busy certain times of the year and not in others. There will thus be down-time when per diem consultants are not used.  Typically no benefits such as insurance exist. Consider it on the job training. The part-time consultant gets to see if he or  the industry, and the company gets acquainted with them. When a full-time position becomes available, the per diem consultants have a definite edge in landing the job. What do per diem consultants do? They work side by side with sales representatives in the field. Sometimes they help set up displays and exhibits at schools. Other times they go school to school to show the products to teachers. Applicants need to be able to present in one on one situation for sure. Truthfully, those who are excellent stand-up presenters to groups, such as school faculties, are the most sought after.

The Best Way to Get a Job in the Field with a Textbook Company

The best way to get a job with a textbook company quite frankly is to know someone there if you are just getting into the industry. It is a relatively closed, tight-knit industry. Of course, the first place these companies look to fill positions is to those with a verifiable track record in the industry. If you are trying to get into the industry, you are in a different situation. How do you get to know someone there?

Get on a textbook selection committee if you are a teacher. Typically an opportunity exists in doing that to get to know the sales representative. Then, if summer vacation as a teacher provides you the opportunity to work, ask about doing per diem work. Absolutely being a per diem consultant is the best way to get into the industry. You get to see if you like the business, and the company gets to know you. Very often full-time jobs are filled via per diem consultants. All companies have websites to which you can apply. Be for-warned, it is difficult to get a job from outside the field just applying online. Hundreds of applicants apply for any job post. Get to know someone at the company to propel your résumé to the top of the stack. Remember that I was not looking for a part-time job when that sales representative called me.  Create an awareness with your school principal that you want to work in the textbook industry if you are leaving a teaching job. A recommendation from them to the sales representative carries clout.

My career at a textbook company has been a phenomenal, lucrative one. From being part-time as a per diem consultant, I moved on to full-time sales representative, state, and national manager positions. The industry is a fascinating one, and a delightful way to see the corporate side of education. You do not have to have an education background to get into the industry. Be creative. Get to know someone in the industry.



Jun 14, 2011 10:09am
Thumbs up. What a great gig. I do believe the key to getting any job nowadays is having an inside friend.
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