Publisher Vs. Author

Jun 13, 2018

For those who have a talent for working with the written word, many exciting career opportunities await. Learn more about how publishers and authors get to use their talents in this area on a daily basis.

Comparing Publishers to Authors

Publishers and authors serve as the talent behind the words and design of your favorite books. Thanks to the unique responsibilities of each role, the work of both positions ultimately results in a completed book. Learn more about the daily duties of publishers and authors.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Publishers Associate's degree $42,350 (Desktop Publishers) -14% (Desktop Publishers)
Authors Bachelor's degree $61,820 (Writers and Authors) 8% (Writers and Authors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Publishers vs. Authors

For decades, publishers and authors have worked closely together to create brilliant works of fiction and nonfiction. Individuals in both roles will often work on the same book project. However, publishers and authors have distinct duties to perform to complete the books on which they are working. One primary difference in these roles is that authors work exclusively on writing books, while publishers can also work for magazines, newspapers, and online publications. Both authors and publishers must have excellent communication skills, with an obvious emphasis on writing skills for authors.


Have you ever wondered who picked out the images for an article you read, or who created the interior layout of your favorite book? Chances are strong that someone working as a publisher was the mind behind the design of the content. To be considered for this role, an individual must first earn a relevant associate's degree (e.g. graphic design). In addition to earning a degree, special courses in publishing may be taken to better prepare prospective publishers. Once employed as a publisher, individuals in this career are responsible for receiving and reviewing content from designers and writers, selecting images for content pieces, and using design software to format interior book layouts. Helpful skills for publishers to have include attention to detail, staying organized, and having an eye for design.

Explore additional routine duties of publishers:

  • Make required changes to graphics
  • Ensure that text and images are properly aligned
  • Work with graphic designers and writers when changes to graphics or written content is needed
  • Publish final drafts of articles, books, and online content


Those who possess a relevant bachelor's degree and strong written English language skills can choose to work as an author. Authors are typically self-employed (64%), and the majority of authors (75%) work full-time. Individuals in this role have a great deal of flexibility in the content that they write, as well as in the hours that they work. Authors get to choose the subject in which they would like to write, and begin drafting a manuscript about that subject. While there are many perks to this career, writing a book is no easy task. Hours of research, writing, proofreading, and editing must first be completed before ever selling one copy of a book.

Other responsibilities of authors include the following:

  • Submit written content to editors and publishers for review
  • Make edits as requested by editors and publishers
  • Ensure that all research is accurate and up-to-date
  • Attend book signings and book events post-publication

Related Careers

The sharp attention to detail required of publishers can also make them excellent candidates to work as editors. Additionally, individuals who prefer writing shorter pieces of content should consider working as a content writer.

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