The publishing industry is thriving and undergoing fast development, making it a desirable career path for aspiring professionals from a wide range of backgrounds and interests.

Discover how fiercely competitive the publishing world is by reading on.

The Structure Of The Publishing Industry

Before determining which field you’d like to work in, aspiring publishing professionals should familiarize themselves with the many forms of publishing and the major participants in the market.

  • Trade publishing – Trade publishers create novels, biographies, and children’s books for a broad readership.
  • Academic publishing – Textbooks and other materials for schools and colleges are produced by academic publishers.
  • Independent publishing – Small presses or independent publishers are not connected to powerful organizations. 

As a result, they could have more creative license when creating and marketing books, frequently publishing content for specialized communities and niche genres.

  • Self-publishing – Authors can nearly entirely control every aspect of the publishing process using self-publishing services, including price, art direction, and distribution. 

Self-published books increased by 40% between 2017 and 2018, indicating the rising popularity of this option.

Jobs In The Publishing Sector

The publishing industry is diverse and involves a wide range of professions. The process of moving a book from it being written to being sold is broken down into the following processes and job categories.


When a publishing house purchases the rights to a publication from a writer, literary agent, or editor, the transaction is known as acquisition. Books are frequently chosen based on previous or suggestions in addition to their potential to increase sales.

Literary Agent

As a bridge between authors and publishing houses, literary agents represent writers. They frequently read through manuscripts and submit them to companies on behalf of their clients. 

Additionally, they assist clients in negotiating contracts and agreements with advantageous terms, such as higher advances. The median compensation for agents of artists, authors, and performers in 2019 was $71,380.


When editing a book, structural adjustments and significant alterations are made when necessary. To make the work more readable and marketable, it requires changing factors like the narrative, pace, length, tone, and characters.

These duties are carried out by book editors, who also prepare manuscripts for publishing. They might serve as in-house consultants for publishing firms or as independent consultants for independent firms and authors that self-publish. 

Book editors have a median yearly pay of about $46,000, based on PayScale statistics as of July 2020.

Copy Editing

Beyond structural editing, copy editing looks for and fixes minor typographical and punctuation problems in the text. Fact-checking statistics and data may also be included.


The most recent draft of a text is thoroughly reviewed by proofreaders, who fix any spelling and grammar mistakes before certifying that it is appropriate for layout and design. The BLS reports that the median compensation for proofreaders in 2019 was $38,510.


Making the book’s cover and selecting the pictures and illustrations that will be used are both aspects of design. 

Additionally, it can require setting up the book layout in accordance with the publishing company’s style guidelines for print or online publication, including margins and spacing.

Cover creation, print design, and e-book design are just a few of the areas in which book designers could specialise. The typical yearly compensation for book designers is about $31,000, based on PayScale data as of July 2020.


The procedure of binding and publishing a new publication is called book production. Before a book hits the shelves, publishing houses frequently print a limited number of early copies to be read by the editors and forwarded to reviewers. 

The book could be printed for sales and distribution as soon as the advance edition has received approval.

The production process is overseen by book publishers, who make sure the work is completed in time for publishing. The median yearly pay for book publishers is roughly $50,000, according to PayScale data as of July 2020.

Marketing And Sales

Copies of a book are given out by a publishing house or a self-publishing author to bookstores, wholesalers, and libraries. 

They might also send digital versions to websites where e-books are sold. Publishing houses can also assist authors in negotiating deals for foreign rights sales and movie or television rights.


In order to locate publications for distributors and bookshops to sell, book purchasers or purchasing managers collaborate with them. 

These experts select the best merchandise for each seller based on variables including client demographics, merchant locations, and prices. The BLS reports that the median income for purchasing managers  was $69,600 in 2019.


In marketing, new books that are for sale are promoted. To promote their books, publishing houses and writers may partner with bookstores, catalogs, book conventions and fairs, and media organizations. 

Authors nowadays are also urged to engage in internet outreach through platforms like social media, websites, newsletters, and podcasts.


Publicists create marketing strategies for newly released books in collaboration with writers and publishing houses. 

They may be in charge of gathering consumer testimonials and planning interviews, engagements, and signings. Publicists get a median yearly pay of about $49,000, according to PayScale statistics from July 2020.

Is The Publishing Industry Competitive?

How To Find Employment In The Publishing Sector

Use these practical suggestions to launch your publishing career if you’re interested in doing so.

1. Obtain A Degree In An Appropriate Subject

Look for a bachelor’s programme in the industry you want to work in, such as publishing, advertising, or communications. 

You should graduate from the programme with the information and abilities necessary to start developing your portfolio and looking for opportunities to get experience in your desired employment field.

2. Utilize An Internship To Gain Experience

Combine classroom learning with practical, real-world experience. Internships are available at numerous independent and small publishers as well as the main five trade publishing giants. 

You can find opportunities to interact with independent writers and online publishing sites as self-publishing thrives to understand about the publication process.

3. Offline And Online Networking

Connect with colleagues attempting to break into the publishing sector as well as current professionals. 

Keep in touch with these contacts through online or in-person gatherings to learn about internship opportunities, practical advice, and fresh trends that are affecting your industry.

As consumer preferences change, publishing companies combine, and new technology transforms the publication process, the publishing sector is always changing.

Publishing Industry Trends

The following significant trends are now influencing publishing’s future:

1. The Rise Of Audiobooks

Sales of audiobooks have even surpassed those of e-books. From 2018 to 2019, sales of downloaded audio climbed by 22%, generating $577 million in revenue. 

Similar to the increasingly popular podcasts and streaming music services, audiobooks are accessible on a variety of devices and can be used as a portable listening option.

2. The Growth Of Independent Bookshops

Independent bookshops are springing up to fill the void left by the closure of major book chain stores like Barnes & Noble or Borders and provide in-person shopping experiences for book customers. 

These mom-and-pop stores are able to develop more intimate relationships with customers and offer more carefully designed experiences. 

In order to understand their customers and place books on their shelves, publishers should take advantage of all opportunities to establish partnerships with independent booksellers.

3. The Surge In Self-Publishing

As authors look to avoid middlemen publishing corporations and market their product on their own terms, self-publishing will keep growing. 

This will probably result in a greater need for independent publishing experts, such editorial staff, designers, and advertisers, who could contract with self-published authors. 

However, sources in the business believe that the top five major publishers will begin making use of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing technology to publish backlist titles and make money.

4. Brand-New Tactics And Resources For Digital Marketing

Publishers and authors of books today have more options than just running ads and holding book signings to market their most recent publications. 

They may create websites, blog posts, and campaigns on social media to reach audiences all over the world without spending a fortune.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous ways to develop a career in publishing. Students and professionals who are interested in publication can select from a variety of specialties, from marketing and book purchasing to editing and design. 

Just make sure to increase your experience and knowledge in your chosen field and keep up with emerging trends.

The publishing sector will continue to evolve and, as a result, provide interesting employment prospects as technology and audience interests shift.

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