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.