Careers in Book Publishing: Job Options and Requirements

Jun 03, 2021

Careers in book publishing include working as a marketing manager, a pre-press technician, or editorial assistant. The educational requirements vary. While pre-press technicians may be able to enter the field without a degree, graphic arts experience or training is preferred. Editorial assistants and marketing managers need to have a bachelor's degree in their field.

Essential Information

Job options in book publishing are diverse. Individuals can work directly with publications to edit and manipulate the content, while others are in charge of the business processes, such as marketing and sales. Publishing jobs also range from entry-level assistantship positions to managerial options. Three diverse examples are marketing manager, pre-press technician and assistant editor.

Required Education Master's degree preferred for marketing manager positions
Other Requirements Bachelor's degree in journalism for editorial assistants
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 7% for marketing managers
Median Salary (2020)* $142,170 annually for marketing managers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Marketing Manager

A marketing manager is a supervisor in the marketing department, coordinating efforts to promote and sell books. Marketing managers must have thorough knowledge of the field and maintain a network of contacts within the publishing and bookselling industry. They may report to a marketing director.

Marketing managers supervise a marketing team that develops sales plans for new books and work with other departments within the publishing firm to create brochures, flyers and social media postings that promote books. They update editors, book agents and authors on marketing plans.

Job Requirements

According to job postings from major publishers in November 2014, those hiring marketing managers seek applicants with at least a bachelor's degree, though they prefer a master's degree. A Master of Business Administration is optimal. Some book publishers accept several years of experience in lieu of a master's degree. Marketing managers must possess solid communications skills and organizational ability. The job may require travel, and the ability to work under pressure is essential. In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual median salary of $142,170 for marketing managers. The BLS predicted 7% employment growth for these managers, from 2019-2029.

Pre-press Technician

Pre-press technicians are the final people able to make changes to pages before they are printed. They accept images from graphic artists and check them for formatting errors and completeness. The pre-press technicians make sure all electronic text and image files are in order. Some firms still use a photographic process to create images of the page for the press, but many have adopted digital methods.

Most pre-press technicians work 8-hour shifts in clean, climate-controlled conditions. Night or weekend work may be required, especially if a deadline is approaching.

Job Requirements

While a college degree is not necessary, employers prefer someone with graphic arts experience or training, according to November 2014 job postings on and The advertisements say a pre-press technician must be familiar with graphics and word processing programs on both Macs and PCs. Other requirements cited in the advertisements include the ability to make sound decisions and strong communication skills.

The field is changing rapidly, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says pre-press technician jobs will decline by 21% between 2019 and 2029. But pre-press technicians who are up-to-date on technology might have an edge. As of May 2020, pre-press technicians and workers earned a median salary of $41,410 per the BLS.

Editorial Assistant

According to November 2014 job postings on and the website of a major publisher, editorial assistants may maintain contact with authors and evaluate submitted manuscripts and book proposals. They work under the supervision of an editor. Clerical duties, such as handling invoices and answering telephone calls, may be part of the job. Although the BLS doesn't publish statistics for editorial assistants, in particular, it did predict a decline of 7% in job growth for editors, during the 2019-2029 decade. The BLS also revealed a salary range of about $33,620 to almost $126,800 for editors, in 2020.

Job Requirements

Editorial assistants should hold a bachelor's degree in an area such as communications, journalism or English. Although editorial assistant is considered an entry-level position in the book publishing industry, job postings in November 2014 show that employers seek job candidates with at least one year of experience. Good communications skills are vital for this job, and editorial assistants should be energetic and organized.

Those interested in pursuing a career in book publishing can consider working as a pre-press technician, marketing manager, or editorial assistant. Pre-press technicians work with graphic images and the text to be printed to ensure every page is formatted and error free, while editorial assistants perform clerical duties and evaluate submissions. Marketing managers are responsible for the promotion of the books published, and may create posters, flyers or social media posts to help sell books.

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