Career Development

Publisher Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Publishers are the people behind the scenes. They work on behalf of authors, developing and marketing books to ensure that their ideas reach the largest number of readers possible.

Publishers are the people behind the scenes. They work on behalf of authors, developing and marketing books to ensure that their ideas reach the largest number of readers possible.

Publishers are responsible for every aspect of bringing a book to market, from finding authors with great ideas to managing all the logistics that go into creating, printing, and distributing copies of a book. These responsibilities can include everything from editing and writing content to securing literary agents or contracts with distributors like libraries, bookstores, and online retailers like Amazon.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a publisher and what it takes to become one yourself.

Publisher Job Duties

Typical responsibilities of a publisher include the following:

  • Identifying and evaluating market opportunities for potential titles
  • Reviewing book proposals and manuscripts for suitability for the company’s list, soliciting proposals from authors, and negotiating contracts with authors or agents
  • Knowledge of publishing industry standards and best practices, as well as an understanding of how to identify and resolve conflicts
  • Managing relationships with authors, agents, editors, reviewers, and other publishing partners
  • Experience with project management, including identifying milestones and making sure tasks are completed according to schedule
  • Negotiating contracts to acquire new titles and manage existing ones
  • Overseeing design, editing, production, and marketing of the book project including the selection of title pages, cover design, interior layout design, etc.

Publisher Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for publishers is $50,884. The highest earners of the profession are bringing home over $142,000 annually.

Job opportunities for publishers are expected to decline over the next decade. This is due to the increasing popularity of digital media and the growing use of self-publishing platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

Publisher Job Requirements

The requirements for a publisher are as follows:

Education: Publishers should have a bachelor’s degree in publishing, communications or a related field. However, some employers may accept a bachelor’s degree in another field if the candidate has experience in the industry. 

Training: Some publishers have previously worked in another field, such as marketing or business development. Others have an education background that prepares them for the role. Regardless of how they entered the industry, publishers need on-the-job training to learn how to manage a team and budget to succeed in their role. They also need to learn business practices, such as running an effective meeting or handling conflict resolution. While many of these skills can be learned through on-the-job training, some companies provide off-site seminars to help employees advance their careers.

Certifications & Licenses: There are no required certifications for this job, but publishers can obtain optional credentials that demonstrate their knowledge of the field.

Publisher Skills

This job generally requires the following skills:

Writing skills: It’s vital that a publisher has strong writing skills in order to create compelling content for clients. This includes blog posts, eBooks, and even white papers.

Tech Savvy: Publishers need to know how technology works so they can keep up-to-date on platform trends that might affect their clients’ businesses, such as changes in search engine algorithms or new ways of monetizing content online.

Business sense: Publishers need to understand the business side of publishing in order to manage their organizations efficiently.

Management skills: Publishers often need to be able to oversee employees, delegate tasks, schedule meetings, and coordinate production schedules.

Creativity: Creativity is a crucial skill for publishers. It is essential to be able to create content that is appealing and exciting to readers.

Promotion skills: Publishers need experience in promotion in order to create the right kind of buzz around their publications in social media, blogs, and word-of-mouth. It’s also important for them to know how to utilize traditional forms of promotion like press releases.

Publisher Work Environment

Most publishers work in comfortable offices with few physical demands. They usually sit for long periods of time at desks. Publishers must meet deadlines on a regular basis and the job can be stressful. They are required to make many decisions daily, some of which will affect others. Publishers may travel to conventions and book signings at times.

Most publishers work full time; however, some must also take care of publishing and PR emergencies as they arise, which requires extra hours at home or on the weekends.

Publisher Career Path

Getting Started

Despite the perception of the publishing field as glamorous, it is not uncommon for an entry-level position to be little more than a glorified clerk’s job. The hours are long, and there is little money in the beginning. The first few years are spent learning the trade.

Five Years Out

Many of the people who remain in publishing at this point have had some experience working with editors, freelance writers, and art directors. Those who have been successful establish a business identity, develop a few contacts, and start to make a name for themselves as a publisher. They may move from one publication to another or establish their own newsletter or journal. The hours are still long, but satisfaction is high for those who have gained recognition as a publisher.

Ten Years Out

The ten-year mark is a significant one for publishers because this is when most people begin to feel that they have “made it” in the publishing industry. They have established reputations as hardworking professionals with excellent ideas that appeal to the public. Some may choose to stay in this field or move into other areas such as becoming an editor or an executive at a publishing house. If they decide to leave publishing altogether, they may choose to become freelance writers or editors for a variety of publications. Satisfaction is high for people who have managed to achieve success in this field after ten years of trying.

Publisher Trends

Here are three trends influencing how publishers work. Publishers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increasing Popularity of Digital Content and Distribution

Electronic books (E-books) are increasingly popular due to their convenience and affordability. In addition, many e-books come with digital features that allow students to take notes and highlight sections, which can make it easier for them to remember key concepts when studying for exams.

As technology has advanced, more publishers are beginning to offer online-only content in addition to their print editions. Online-only content is typically easier to create and can be distributed much more quickly than print materials. As these online trends continue, publishers will need to adapt and hire experts who can help them maximize profits from digital distribution and improve their ability to effectively market and promote content in a changing marketplace.

Increasing Importance of Video Content

As traditional publishers continue to move towards digital platforms, the need for compelling video content has become more important than ever. 

Today, websites are increasingly turning to video content as a way to keep viewers engaged, which is creating an opportunity for freelance writers who have experience with video production.

While written content is still a popular medium for publishers, it has been overtaken by the popularity of audio and video content, which makes up more than 50% of online traffic. This trend is likely to continue as consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to access media, with 85% of mobile Internet usage being attributed to mobile video.

Rising Importance of Data

As the amount of available data continues to grow, so does the importance of it in determining how publishers allocate their resources.

Today, information gleaned from Google Analytics and other tools can help publishers track everything from demographics to buying trends, which allows them to better target ads and create more effective content. 

This increased demand for data is having a positive impact on the jobs of those working in the publishing industry, as well as creating an opportunity for new job roles such as data analyst and data journalist.

How to Become a Publisher

1. Planning Your Career

A career in publishing can be a very rewarding one, but it is important to be aware of the competitive nature of the publishing industry. If you decide to pursue a job in this field, make sure that you specialize in a niche that is both interesting to you and that is currently in demand.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for publishers focus on writing skills, including content creation, proofreading, and editing. If you are applying to a publishing company that is part of a larger media corporation then you may also want to highlight your marketing and design abilities.

Be sure to list any relevant experience in the industry such as copyediting, layout design, and production management. When describing duties and responsibilities at previous jobs, be sure to use specific examples where possible. You may also want to include details about awards or recognition such as winning an essay competition or earning the highest sales award in your area.

3. Applying for Jobs

In this industry, it’s very helpful to get involved with other people in the field. You can start by joining professional organizations that match your experience level and get in touch with members who work at companies you’re interested in. Research each company’s mission statement, style of communication, and current culture before applying for positions there.

You can also reach out to editors and other content creators online. Ask them how they found their jobs and if they’d be willing to meet up with you to help you find yours. And finally, make sure to follow industry blogs for news about current events or tips on where to look for work.

4. Ace the Interview

The first step to preparing for your interview is to do some online research about the company. Look at the business’s website, review its social media accounts, and check out major news articles about it. This will give you a solid idea of what the company’s goals are today, as well as its long-term plans.

Once you have a good understanding of the company, think about how you can apply your skills and experience to help achieve those goals. What are the biggest challenges facing the business right now? How does your background give you an advantage in addressing them?

Next, prepare for common questions that are likely to come up during the interview itself. Some examples include: Based on your research of this company, what do you think are some areas in which we need improvement? What are your specific strengths and weaknesses? Why should I hire you?

If you are asked these types of questions, make sure to draw on specifics from past projects and accomplishments. Be prepared to back up any claims with data and relevant examples from your career so far.


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