Top Book Publishing Jobs and Careers

Careers in Editorial, Production, Sales, Publicity, and Marketing

If you love books, and you're interested in working in book publishing, there are a number of jobs that you can choose from. From production to editorials, sales and marketing, the range of jobs are varied and where you land depends solely on your personal interests and strengths.

Jobs in Book Publishing

Aside from being a writer, there are other key roles that are involved in delivering the written word to a wider audience. From start to finish, a written piece must pass between the hands of different experts, assistants and readers before it is published. Below are the 10 top jobs in publishing that you can choose from:

Book Editors

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Books editors are in the business of finding literary talent and then working with those writers to publish their books. Not only do book editors find work to publish, but they also edit a writer's work, helping to mold it into the final product that hits the shelves.

If you're passionate about reading, and you're a strong writer with a great eye for good storytelling, a career as a book editor might be right for you.

Copy Editors

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Copy editors work in various fields of media — for newspapers, magazines and websites. In book publishing copy editors work with editors and make sure authors' manuscripts are clear of grammatical errors. While many copy editors work full-time, this career is also ideal for those looking for part-time work as many companies hire copy editors on an "as needed" basis.

Literary Agents

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Literary agents are in the business of finding literary talent, like book editors, only earlier in the process. Literary agents find promising authors, sell their books to book editors, and then take a cut of the proceeds. A sense of how to sell and package a writer — along with a sense of what kind of books will sell in the marketplace — is key to success in this career.

Literary Scouts

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Someone who works in the business once told me the job of a literary scout is one of the best-kept secrets in publishing. Scouts find books — for foreign publishers or film studios — to be published abroad or to be adapted to the screen. This role often requires many years of experience as an assistant editor or editor before being able to recognize hidden talent at the blink of an eye.


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Publicists can also work in various media fields, as well as in the corporate world. Working in book publishing, a publicist usually works for a publishing house and tries to get press attention for the books and authors that the house publishes. If you're interested in dealing with many different types of people, complex situations and you love reading, being a publicist at a publishing house is a logical fit.

Publicists usually work directly with authors and agencies while pitching books and building relationships with reviewers, websites, media outlets, and literary scenes. Once in a while publicists may have to demonstrate exceptional skills in crisis management and damage control if an author or publishing house gets themselves in some hot water with the press or the public. 

Production Editors

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If you are interested in combining your love of reading with with beautiful, eye-catching designs, you may also make a great production editor. Production editors are responsible for ensuring that manuscripts are edited, designed, proofread, and printed. All of this must be done on schedule, with very minimal delays.

Production departments have strong working relationships with authors as they work diligently to publish the books, on time and looking good as well.

Marketers and/or Copy Writers

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Marketers are often good writers themselves as they get to put their writing skills to use in creating press releases, media kits, and catalogues, often writing copy that highlights the great features of an author, a book, or a publishing house campaign.

A position in marketing for a publishing house can be a grueling job, as it is a fast paced job and it is expected that you manage the expectations of editors, authors, and publicists with ease and efficiency.

Sales Positions

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Do you have knack for always recommending the perfect book to others and can sell ice in a snowstorm? Well then a career in book sales may just be the perfect role for you.

Know that sales positions are highly collaborative and communicative as they call for close communication with editorial, marketing, and publicity as you help make the sale of books a success. Working in book sales will allow you to make new deals and perhaps travel while being an expert on a variety of books and titles.

Where to Begin

Most of these roles require many years of experience to be most effective and successful. Be willing to put in the hard work and expect to start in an intern position or assistant role after your schooling is done. Careers in book publishing require bright go-getters who aren't afraid of some grunt work. Learn the ins and outs of all of the different aspect of publishing, and you will be able to make a more informed decision on which career track may be right for you.