What Jobs are Available in Book Publishing?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2018
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Aside from aspiring to become the author of the next best-selling novel, the book publishing industry provides many rewarding career opportunities. In fact, most book publishing houses look very similar in business model and operating structure to many traditional forms of business. For example, in addition to management, finance, marketing, and sales, there is also a need for people to negotiate contracts, to design and maintain an Internet presence, and to oversee and production schedules. Since book publishing involves more than the written word, most publishers have an art department with a creative director and at least one lead graphic designer on site.

Obviously, a talented writer who has something of value to say is what drives the book publishing business in the first place. Usually, the practice of submitting a book proposal to a publisher is a hit-or-miss proposition, despite putting forth a concerted effort to understand the publisher’s market and its competition. However, a rejection slip on a submitted proposal doesn’t always equate to a flat out refusal of work. In fact, many writers find themselves accepting other work-for-hire assignments from the publisher based on their credentials and experience. In addition, many publishers latch onto particularly prolific or high profile authors, which can translate to a steady royalty payout for years.


Of course, wherever written content is produced, editing must follow. However, there is more than one editor in every publishing house. In fact, there are scores of them, each with a distinct function. First, there is a roundtable of editors that review “pitches” and collectively decide whether to pursue a project. There is also the role of the acquisition editor, which is akin to a recruitment officer who ferrets out talent and makes an offer to “acquire” intellectual property for publication.

Book publishing also involves the need for several secondary-editing positions. This is because a book typically goes from the initial draft manuscript submitted by the author through a series of revisions. At each stage of evolution, an assigned editor will check the content for continuity in style and page layout. Meanwhile, another editor will fact-check and ask the writer for clarifications, if necessary. There is also the essential proofreader, a special editor who makes sure every sentence is free of grammatical and punctuation errors.

There are also a variety of jobs available in book publishing that require little or no literary skills at all. In fact, teams of marketing professionals, as well as national and global account representatives, manage the business of promoting book sales. These are the people who make sure the publisher’s book titles reach their targeted audience by placing them in the hands of the appropriate bookstore distributors. They also manage special markets, such as sales to book clubs, industry-specific venues, and foreign rights.



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Post 3

@Ana1234 - It's not all bad. One of the nice things about the rise of self publishing is that it's easier for decent freelancers to make a living now. You don't have to be attached to a publishing house to get work. You can offer graphic design work or editing services or whatever online to people who are hoping to self publish or use a book publishing service.

Post 2

@croydon - That goes for anyone looking for a job with fiction book publishers as well. There are plenty of people out there who have no idea what they are doing and even a few people who are deliberately malicious because they live off scamming people.

When you have a lot of people as desperate as many first time authors to get something done, there will always be terrible people to take advantage and they will just as happily take advantage of any professionals who work with them on the other end.

Post 1

Please don't decide, after dealing with publishing houses yourself as an author, that you know better than them and you are going to start your own company.

Yes, there are some problems with trade publishing. It's possible (although not at all likely) that you can fix these problems, although you'd be one in a million, because at least a million have tried before you.

But you aren't just putting yourself on the line here. When a publisher agrees to take on a book they enter a legal contract with the author which often means if the company fails the book, the book will fail altogether. It's a one shot deal.

So if you don't succeed straight away, with your first

book, you're going to be crushing the dreams of whatever poor author you suckered into working with you.

Which is not to say that you can never have your own publishing company. But you should go out and get a couple of decades experience with other publishing companies first.

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