Get to Work! Careers in the Publishing Industry

By Danielle Lieneman 

As someone with a passion for the written word and literature of all sorts, the publishing industry is one that has had an impact on me. Despite this, I didn’t really know much about the world of publishing until I decided that was going to be my chosen career. The extent of my knowledge came from Hollywood depictions like Margaret Tate from The Proposal (10/10 would recommend, even if its depiction of the publishing industry and its editors is a bit harsh). It wasn’t until I was a junior in college with half of an advertising degree and a few English classes under my belt that I started to wonder about a possible career in the publishing industry.



The most commonly thought of career path within the publishing industry is that of an editor. Editors are responsible for reading manuscripts in search of new talent and working with authors to create a final product. Editors need to be able to balance both an eye for detail (for all those pesky grammar mistakes and plot inconsistencies) and an ability to see the big picture. Bigger publishing houses have numerous editors with varying responsibilities: copyeditors (correct grammatical and spelling errors), commissioning editor (find new manuscripts and read book proposals), and editorial assistants (help with anything needed from administrative to editing duties) At smaller publishing houses these tasks and responsibilities are often combined.

Possible majors: English, Journalism

Marketing and Publicity

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Marketing and sales representatives are responsible for getting the product into the hands of the consumer. They are responsible for the creation of innovative marketing campaigns that will stick with the consumer long past their initial exposure; marketers and publicists create the image of the product for the consumer. Additionally, publicists and marketers work directly with the media to deliver press releases and media kits to garner media exposure for new releases.

Possible majors: Marketing, Public Relations

Design and Production

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If you have an eye for design and consider yourself a visually creative person, design would be the ideal home. From cover design to page layout and font choices, the production department is responsible for ensuring that the final product is visually appealing. Knowledge of InDesign and Photoshop are an absolute must. Production staff work with the manufacturers to ensure the quality of the product. Frequently they are among the first to hold the final copy!

Possible majors: Graphic Design, Advertising


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Sales representatives work closely with the marketing department to ensure that books are available to consumers. They are responsible for selling books to third party sellers like Amazon, local bookstores, and other booksellers. They frequently have to travel to the client in order to convince them of the quality of work and its capacity for sales. The ability to communicate in an engaging and persuasive manner is an integral trait of a great sales representative. Without the sales department, consumers would be incapable of purchasing the title anywhere except from the publisher directly (wouldn’t that be inconvenient!).

Possible majors: Marketing, Advertising

No matter what track you choose, a career in the publishing industry requires a love of literature and the dedication to work hard. Publishing is a hard field to break into, but it’s well worth the effort. For more information on the publishing industry, everything from writing the novel to getting it on shelves, be sure to check out any of our related titles:



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