Become a Textbook Author: Salary and Career Information

Sep 23, 2019

Textbook authors create educational material within publisher guidelines to fill the pages of a school's textbook. They typically have a degree in English, communications or technical writing. This is a highly competitive field, but those pursue a textbook author career may find themselves earning salaries around $69,000 to $74,000 a year.

Essential Information

A textbook author creates and writes textbooks that are used for educational purposes. Authors work for textbook publishers and are usually hired on a contract basis. Extensive knowledge in the topic area they are writing on and verifiable experience within the writing industry are common requirements for these authors.

Required Education Degree in English, communications, journalism or topic of textbook
Other Requirements Extensive knowledge of field and experience in writing industry
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 0% (all writers and authors)*
Average Salary (2018) $73,090 (all writers and authors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Textbook Author Salary and Employment Outlook

A textbook author is a specialized writer that focuses on creating educational material; however, some may be considered technical writers due to the nature of the work and the content that is created. Authors may be hired to work for a publishing company, but typically work on a contract basis where they are hired to write one book or a series of books as an independent contractor.

Due to the variations in the type of work and employment, salaries for textbook authors can vary, but the mean wages of writers, authors and technical writers can be used as a guide for what to expect. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary, as of May 2018, was $73,090 for writers and authors and $75,500 for technical writers (

The BLS predicted only 0% employment growth for general writers and authors for 2018-2028, with the best prospects available to experienced writers who have made the leap to writing for online markets. At that same time, 8% expansion was expected for technical writing jobs. Areas with the most jobs would include support materials for online products and those related to technical or scientific fields.

Textbook Author Career Information

Authors in this field follow guidelines set by the textbook's publisher and are typically required to research the topic and find reliable sources for the information presented in the textbook. Conducting interviews and traveling may also be a requisite part of the research process. The necessary skills to do thorough research, provide factual information and compile the information in an informative and easy-to-read format are also common requirements.

Publishers may only accept finished manuscripts or ideas or proposals for textbooks. Some publishers only accept agented submissions, so an author may need to hire a literary agent who approaches publishers with an author's work on behalf of the author.

Publisher submission guidelines are specific to the publisher and may include the topic areas the publisher covers, specifications on how pages are to be formatted, the process for submitting a manuscript and details on the type of submissions accepted.

Many publishers consider the actual textbook quality and the background of the author when accepting or rejecting submissions. Education, experience and previously published work may also be taken into consideration. Many textbook authors have a degree in English, communications, journalism or in the topic area about which they are writing. Textbook authors may also need a portfolio of their best work to show publishers upon request.

Textbook authors work alongside education professionals and textbook publishers to craft the material for textbooks used at all levels of education. Depending on their specific role, they may be considered technical writers, and this classification may change their salaries. This field is very competitive and only expected to grow by 0% for the next decade, but those with writing skills and clear communicative language may find success within the industry.

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