Become a Textbook Writer: Education and Career Roadmap

Textbook writers compose nonfiction books to educate students. Writers who work in this field research and produce content on a variety of subjects for different markets. View article »

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  • 0:00 Textbook Writers
  • 0:50 Earn a Degree
  • 1:56 Gain Writing Experience
  • 2:58 Pursue Publication

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Video Transcript

Textbook Writers

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field English, journalism, communications, technical writing
Experience Experience gained through an undergraduate degree program in addition to work experience
Key Skills Creative thinking, strong writing, decision-making, and critical-thinking skills; proficiency with software programs to create, edit, and revise content; knowledge of word processing
Salary $60,250 (2015 median salary for all writers and authors)

Sources: O*NET Online, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Textbooks are used in the education, medicine and pharmaceutical industries and in business organizations. Competition for writing contracts is intense. A textbook writer needs a minimum of a bachelor's degree, as well as subject matter expertise and an aptitude for writing. A more advanced degree and an on-going relationship with a university helps textbook writers secure contracts.

Experience gained through an undergraduate degree program in addition to work experience can also go a long way toward getting a publishing contract. Strong writing abilities, creative and critical thinking and proficiency with software programs used to create, edit and revise content are all important skills needed to get published.

Earn a Degree

The first step to becoming a textbook writer is to earn a bachelor's degree in a field related to writing in some way. In a bachelor's degree program, textbook writers develop the necessary skills to compose books that are informative and easy to read. Writers commonly select journalism, creative writing, English or other communications fields for their career path. Bachelor's degrees in journalism with a writing focus include coursework on feature writing, reporting, editing, and magazine writing.

Students may also choose creative writing programs, which focus on producing a body of work during undergraduate studies. Programs can include internships or the chance to write for a school publication. These activities help a student cultivate the writing skills necessary to be a textbook writer.

In addition to honing their writing craft, prospective textbook writers should also work to develop subject matter expertise on the topic they plan on covering. Many universities offer double major programs that include writing programs or a comprehensive list of minors that may help facilitate this step.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Creative Writing, General
  • Writing

Gain Writing Experience

The next step to becoming a textbook writer is to gain writing experience. Prior bylines make it easier to get published. Prospective textbook writers may consider publishing articles and other compositions in traditional and digital format. They can also work as freelancers or take an entry-level position to gain additional experience. Writers who are familiar with technological advances might find it easier to break into the textbook writing field, especially if they plan on publishing their work digitally or live a long distance from publishers.

In addition to gaining writing experience, it's also a good idea to market your writing skills online. By developing and posting an online portfolio, writers can promote their skills and writing samples to potential publishers. There are a variety of resources on the Internet for creating professional profiles as a way to draw in prospective employers and freelance work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests using Internet blogs as a way to acquire additional writing experience.

Pursue Publication

The third step to becoming a textbook writer is to vigorously pursue publication. After completing the necessary education and preparation, textbook writers can begin pursuing publication. If they plan on working with a publisher, it may be necessary to develop an outline and complete a few chapters to include in their book proposal or pitch. Textbook writers may also seek employment with textbook producing firms, where they receive writing assignments and work with editors, agents, and other publishing industry professionals during the publication process.

The BLS states that, as of May 2015, the median salary for writers and authors is $60,250 per year. The steps involved in securing a position as a textbook writer include earning a bachelor's degree in a field related to writing; gaining writing experience through a variety of formats; and vigorously pursuing publication with online portfolios and book proposals.

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