Is Publishing a Good Career Path?

The written word has gone from cave walls to electronic tablets especially made for reading. Throughout the years, the power of the written word has not only inspired and built civilizations but also provided income for those working within it.

Building a career in publishing does not have to mean you have to be a good writer. There are many careers and opportunities waiting for those who are interested, as there are multiple aspects of publishing that few might know about.

What are the Best Publishing Jobs?

Publishing comes in many forms, from newspapers, to books, to magazines, and now to digital media such as websites. Aside from the authors and reporters, there are many professionals behind every piece of written work that we love.

Here are some of the best jobs in publishing:


An editor’s main responsibility is to make sure that the content being published is in its best form and meets all standards before going to print. Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication, and thus should be meticulous in their work. There are also various types of editors: assistant editors, copy editors, managing editors, and editors-in-chief.

Most editors have a writing background, and many companies require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in English, Journalism, Communications, or a related course. Many publishing companies also require proofreading and writing experience, although certifications can also help prove to employers about one’s capacity to become an editor.


Publishers on the other hand decide what kind of content the company or organization needs to publish, whether for disseminating information or for profit. Publishers can be a head of a big company or just an individual. They must be aware of the needs of the market so that they can reflect it in their offerings. They must be experts in project management as they have to oversee multiple projects at a time.

Publishers usually have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Management or Business Administration, although some rise from the ranks from editors with degrees in English or Communications. Big publishing companies also prefer those with extensive experience in publishing, as well as Master’s degrees or certifications in relevant courses.

Literary Agent

Literary agents or book agents are professionals who are in charge of helping writers find publishers, and vice versa. The responsibilities of the agent are quite diverse, with them being, “part lawyer, part accountant, part counselor and part editorial sounding board.” They must have an eye for what the market needs and authors with big potential.

Because literary agents read a lot of manuscripts or sample work from writers, they must have a good grasp of the English language. Literary agents can work for themselves or for a specific publisher, and thus requirements to become one varies on the type of writer work or media to be published. A certificate in Literary Representation is a good start for those who want to begin their journey in this profession.

Book Publicist/Marketer

Much like any other product, books need to be publicized or marketed strategically so that it reaches the target audience. For publishers, book publicists are critical in making sure that the title they are going to be releasing will sell. Book publicists are in charge of coordinating with publishers, the author, bookstores, and other important networks to make sure the book is publicized. They organize book signings and readings, interviews, and more recently, execute social media strategies to increase awareness about the book.

Book publicists need acquired experience in publishing, usually in the marketing area. They usually have degrees in public relations, journalism, marketing, or other relevant degrees. The Public Relations Society of America provides formal accreditations for public relations professionals, but more specific certifications, such as the Book Publisher Certificate Course are also available for those interested.

Book Designer/Graphic Designer

There is a saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” However nowadays, book covers are a huge part of making first impressions in the market. Book designers or graphic designers are in charge of creating the book cover, as well as the layout of the text of the book. They coordinate with the author or publisher to make sure the cover or design reflects the beauty of the content.

Graphic designers for books can work in-house for a single company or as freelance agents. While they usually have degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, or Visual Arts, their portfolio or sample work usually speaks more for authors and publishers. Specialty in design software is also required by some companies, so taking up courses in Adobe InDesign or Canva can definitely help budding book designers.

Why Choose Publishing as a Career?

There are many career options within publishing – like any other company or business. It requires many professionals for it to thrive. The rise of e-books or digitally published books has also opened other opportunities for the industry, despite worries about the “death” of the printed word.

As long as there are readers, publishing remains a steady and stable career path.

What are the Opportunities in Publishing?

Opportunities in publishing are far and wide. Much like any other business, many professionals are needed to make sure the business grows or thrives. Employment in internet publishing also increased up to 48% from 2016 to 2020, showing its potential for many job seekers. From editors to accountants to publicists and sales agents, as long as one is willing to do the work, there is a place for them in the world of publishing.

How Much Do You Get Paid?

Salary expectations in publishing can vary, depending on the size of the company, the type of content they produce, as well as their general location or state in the US. As of May 2021, editors earn an average of  USD 63,350 annually, with a starting or base salary of USD 36,970, which can eventually get up to USD 129,420.

Publishers in bigger companies can earn as much as USD 162,000 a year, which can also be largely affected by the company’s sales that year. On the other hand, publicity or public relations specialists or marketers can expect a median annual wage of USD 62,800, with the least experienced earning around USD 37,020 and those with more experience earning up to USD 124,620 a year.

The salary for a literary agent also largely depends on the books they manage to get published as well as its earnings. On average, agents earn around USD 71,690 per year. Their affiliation, whether or not they work freelance or exclusively for one company, also affects this salary expectation.

For book designers or graphic designers, the average annual salary as of 2021 is around USD 50,710. This however is largely affected by their specialties or companies, whether they work in periodicals, advertising, or specialized design services. Annual salary ranges from USD 31,310 up to USD 98,260.

What is the Future of Publishing

According to Grand View Research, the global publishing or books market was valued at USD 138.35 billion in 2021. It is also expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.9% from 2022 to 2030. Local bookshops remain the largest distributor of books, followed by online retailers, smaller shops, and specialty stores. In general, there is an increase in consumer spending on books – publishers of all kinds (academic, fiction, non-fiction, self-publishers) can expect a steady demand for content.

The study also noted that “despite an onslaught of new technology, books have proved to be extremely resilient. The printed word has many compelling advantages over reading on a screen.” Because of this, professionals in publishing, hard copy or otherwise, can expect a thriving career.

The Power of the Written Word

Publishing is, and will always be, an important industry in the global economy. Publishers, especially in periodicals, help disseminate important news and information, which is important now more than ever. They also help educate readers, provide entertainment, and provide a platform for writers to get their stories out into the world.

As a career path, one can expect steady and stable growth in publishing. Although not as lucrative as other industries, it is also not as volatile, thus providing additional financial security. More and more people are reading, and as long as readers exist, so will careers in publishing.