How To Get a Job in Publishing

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published February 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career in publishing can encompass a wide variety of skills, such as editing, media relations and copywriting. This is a competitive industry but publishing houses often hire entry-level roles in addition to senior-level executives. As you consider a career in publishing, it's beneficial to understand the requirements of various positions. In this article, we discuss what working in publishing is like and how you can get a job in publishing, and we include several examples of publishing roles.

What does working in publishing involve?

Working in publishing can involve different skills, such as writing, editing and digital production skills. Employees in publishing need to be able to read through an author's work quickly and see what has potential while looking for any editing issues. These could include problems to do with grammar, spelling or sentence structure. Depending on their specific job, those working in publishing might also observe the storyline and ensure the plot is something that could hold the interest of an audience.

Working in publishing might also require certain digital skills. Employees might map analytics from website traffic of authors who publish under them. They could also assist in digital production using different specialized computer programs. Understanding digital production and using it correctly helps turn printed files into a pleasing e-book format that looks good on multiple electronic models.

There are two main types of publishing fields that you could get a job in: trade publishing and academic publishing.

Trade publishing

Trade publishing is commercial book publishing. This includes fictional books, cookbooks, self-help books and other books you might see in a merchandise book store. In trade publishing, publishers or firms contract or purchase books from authors. They might purchase one book and then contract an author to write an additional amount if their first book is successful.

Employees at trade publishers work closely with authors to help them write effective books that sell. They might help authors who are struggling to finish their work or take time to edit manuscripts. They could even suggest changing the tone or characters in books to fit in the latest trends.

Academic publishing

Academic publishers publish academic and scholarly texts. These could include college textbooks or books used for advanced degree programs. These books could also include texts on advanced research techniques or scientific studies.

Academic publishers can also work closely with authors but the focus in academic publishing is whether the book can make a significant impact in its educational field. The focal point in academic publishing is ideas rather than sales or marketability, although the intention is still for books to sell. Publishers might work within one specialized educational field or area of study within academia in this area of publishing.

How to get a job in publishing

There a few pathways into the field of publishing. Here are a few options you might take to get a job in publishing:

1. Apply for internships

Make a list of the publishing firms you'd like to work for and see if they have any open roles or internships available. You can prepare a cover letter and resume and submit it with your application. If the company doesn't have any current openings, it may help to contact their human resources department to see if any opportunities are going to be available in the future.

Once you've obtained an internship, you can start taking on assigned tasks around the office. Offering assistance to other departments can help you learn about other roles in the firm. This could also help you narrow down what career path you'd like to pursue within publishing and learn additional relevant skills.

Related: Definitive Guide to Internships

2. Network

Consider joining different networking groups to meet individuals who work in publishing. These individuals could connect you to open roles or internships. Here are a few networking methods you can try:

  • Online groups: These groups link individuals interested in the same field using a website or a social media site. There might be local chapters that offer in-person events, or these groups could exist strictly online. Some websites might even send out newsletters with the latest news from the industry to help members keep up with trends in the industry. Moderators of online groups sometimes aim their networking groups towards segments of the population. For example, you might find an online networking group dedicated to connecting young publishers in New York.

  • Volunteer clubs: Some networking clubs and organizations perform volunteer work. These clubs can get together several times during the year for volunteer activities or community service functions. The events can be a great time to network with other like-minded professionals and to meet those already in the industry.

  • Professional associations: Some industries, including publishing, have professional associations attached to them. These associations might have certain membership requirements to meet before you can join, but there are many benefits attached. Some benefits might include access to conferences or invitations to job listings on special websites.

Related: The Complete Guide To Networking

3. Consider pursuing advanced degree programs

It could be useful to get a certificate or master's degree, which will further your understanding of the industry and open up new opportunities to network with others. Master's programs often offer flexible schedules or online programs, making it easy to attend classes if you have outside responsibilities. Local professionals in the field often teach master's and certificate programs, so you can also make some professional publishing connections while attending class.

Related: What Master's Degree Should I Get? A Guide To Making the Best Choice

4. Relocate if necessary

You might consider relocating if you'd like to work for a big publishing firm. Some smaller publishing presses have satellite offices located in other smaller cities, but you could have more opportunities for entry-level roles or advancement at a bigger firm in a different city. Here are some tips for relocation:

  • Check job listings online: This can help you narrow your focus to one city or area of the country for your job search.

  • Check in with connections: Ask your connections if they know someone you could talk to in your new city. Consider asking them if they know the surrounding area or if they have any ideas, tips or leads on jobs in the area.

  • Visit your chosen city: Walk around the city and explore with a local guide. Your guide could tell you about new areas or promising firms to apply to. You also might want to explore on your own to visit local restaurants, museums or other areas of interest. Locals who work in these areas or who visit the community attractions might also give you leads on jobs or companies to apply to.

Related: Your Guide To Relocating for a Job

5. Be adaptable

You might have to accept an entry-level role when you first try to get into publishing. However, every role can teach you new skills and help you gain experience and insight into the publishing world. Here are some reasons being adaptable might help you get a career in publishing:

  • You learn how to overcome challenges: Being adaptable can help you face challenges in your professional life more easily. When trying to get a job in publishing, you might face some challenging interviews or application processes. If recruiters or hiring managers notice your ability to adapt to them, they might help you obtain your ideal job more easily.

  • You can change careers if needed: Being accommodating can help you adjust easily into the publishing industry. Publishing is often a fast-paced environment, but being adaptable can help you adjust easily when you change into a publishing career.

  • You grow to accept change easily: Being flexible can help you accept any changes in the workplace. When working in publishing, you might regularly face press releases, policy updates of editing requests. Being flexible can help you be prepared for any changes that might come your way during the interview and application process as well.

Related: Adaptability in the Workplace: Benefits and Importance

Types of jobs in publishing

There are a variety of roles within the publishing industry, including some entry-level positions. Following are six publishing-related careers to explore. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link for each job title below.

1. Editorial Assistant

National average salary: $41,260 per year

Primary duties: Editorial assistants usually perform administrative tasks at the publishing house. They might proofread and edit documents or perform research queries for the team. This could include fact-checking for information in a manuscript or researching a question from an author.

2. Copy editor

National average salary: $23.38 per hour

Primary duties: Copy editors might work with media types like newspapers, magazines, books or websites. Their primary duties also include looking over print media for any grammatical and spelling errors and sentence structure issues. They work closely with editors on proofreading tasks.

3. Publicist

National average salary: $53,206 per year

Primary duties: A publicist's primary responsibilities involve working with media and print outlets to get press attention for upcoming and current book releases. They can work with reviewers, different websites, and news outlets to create awareness for their authors. This role requires communication, interpersonal and marketing skills. It also might require crisis management skills to navigate media attention if an author or publishing firm has unwanted news attention.

Related: Learn About Being a Publicist

4. Book editor

National average salary: $57,094 per year

Primary duties: Book editors help to find manuscripts and books for their firms to publish. After they find workable drafts, they work closely with authors to edit pieces and help them create marketable material for bookstores and e-books.

5. Publisher

National average salary: $59,273 per year

Primary duties: A publisher is in charge of every step of the publishing process. One of their main tasks is to bring new authors and clients to their firm. In smaller firms, they might also perform editing, design and marketing work for their clients.

6. Copywriter

National average salary: $61,789 per year

Primary duties: Copywriters in publishing firms can also act as marketers. They often help write press releases, media kits or catalogs for the author. These pieces might highlight an author's newest book, recent accomplishments or latest press tour. They also might be responsible for creating copy on the publishing house's press campaign.

Related: Learn About Being a Copywriter

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