Book Publisher: Job Description & Requirements

Apr 14, 2019

Learn about the education requirements for book publishers. Explore work duties, employment outlook and salary in order to make the right career decision.

Career Definition of a Book Publisher

Book publishers are responsible for overseeing the selection, production, marketing and distribution processes involved with new works of writing. Although book publishers can work for one of the many publishing firms throughout the country, there are several non-traditional avenues one can take to become a book publisher: authors can now self-publish, and individuals with a knack for finding marketable material can open up their own book publishing company. What's more, with the emergence of the Web, e-books and websites are becoming popular book-publishing alternatives.

Education Bachelor's or completion of certification program are usually preferred
Job Skills Ability to communicate, deadline-driven, and computer literate
Average Salary (2018)* $69,480 (for all editors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 1% decline in jobs (for all editors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Many larger companies prefer a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a related field, like communications, English literature or journalism; however, a combination of relevant work experience and education can be considered equivalent. Additionally, various colleges offer certificate programs in publishing that can range from two-week intensive courses to 15-credit-hour courses. Alternatively, a master's degree program in publishing would require approximately 40 credit hours. Common coursework includes editing, production, design and marketing.

Skills Required

Strong communication skills are essential for a career in book publishing. The individual must also be able to work well with deadlines. Computer literacy is also a necessity. A book publisher must be a quick, analytical reader and have a knack for spotting marketable books.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that overall employment in the general editing field will decline by 1% from 2016-2026, with the highest concentration of employment in major cities, like New York City and Los Angeles. In 2018, the BLS indicated that the average annual salary for editors was $69,480 (

Alternative Careers

Other career options in this field include:

Art Director

If overseeing the project work of designers and visual artists sounds interesting, becoming an art director may be a good career option. Art directors determine the style and layout of images that appear in magazines and other publications, on product packaging, and in movies. They approve items, manage budgets, supervisor design employees and present finished work to the client. To enter the field, a bachelor's degree in design or art is required, and many in this profession start out as industrial, graphic or artistic designers and gain experience leading to a promotion.

In May of 2018, the BLS reported that art directors earned an average wage of $104,590. The BLS also predicted a 5% employment growth rate during the 2016-2026 decade, which is average for all jobs.


For those who want to be involved in the book creation process, a career as an author should be considered. Authors develop a storyline of events and characters, write plots, research information important to the story, present drafts to editing professionals and work with publishers to produce the final book. Authors generally need a strong educational background in English or communications in order to be successful, so an undergraduate degree in these fields may be necessary.

According to BLS data, authors and writers can expect average job growth of 8% from 2016-2026, and competition will be strong for available positions. The BLS also estimated that authors received an average yearly wage of $73,090 in 2018.

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