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How to Become a Publisher: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a publisher. Research the education and career requirements and find out what type of experience might be required for starting a career as a publisher.

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Do I Want to Be a Publisher?

Publishers work in the book, newspaper and periodical industries, overseeing the production and distribution process. Their duties may include selecting which books to publish, determining how many copies to print and marketing the writers. Newspaper and periodical publishers focus on the day-to-day operations of a publishing company and ensure profitability by making decisions involving employees and finances.

Many publishers face deadline pressures as well as the pressure of choosing books or articles that will help their company be profitable. Finding interesting and marketable authors and helping them develop their work into published material can be very rewarding.

Job Requirements

Publishers typically need to earn at least a bachelor's degree, and experience in the field may also be required. Training that enables publishers to adapt to online publishing, such as Web design, electronic publishing, and multimedia production, can also be valuable. The table below includes the requirements for becoming a publisher from employer job postings in September 2012.

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Name English, journalism, communications or a related field
Experience Experience at a lower-level position is often required
Key Skills Publishers will need to have strong analytical, business, marketing and critical thinking skills

Step 1: Enroll in a Bachelor's Degree Program

While there is no universal standard for breaking into the publishing industry, a bachelor's degree in English, communications or journalism may provide the skills necessary for entry-level work. These programs feature numerous classes involving reading and writing. In addition to novels and journalism, students may also be exposed to short stories, poetry and other types of writing. Some programs may offer courses in specific forms of writing, such as magazine or news writing. Additional courses in digital or web-based publishing may also be available.

Success Tips

  • Gain experience through the school newspaper. Working at a school newspaper can give an individual experience gathering facts and getting a story published. Having an article published may also be helpful when seeking an internship, as you will be able to show published work.
  • Complete an internship. Internships completed independently or as part of a degree program are a way to gain practical experience in the publishing industry, which is often required for entry-level employment. These can also help students develop connections and network. While many colleges include a career center that can help students find an internship, some publishing companies may offer internships directly through their website.
  • Consider earning a master's degree. A master's degree in publishing educates students on all aspects of the publishing industry, including sales, design, marketing, communications and organization. These programs may also offer classes on specific types of publishing, like magazines and books.

Step 2: Find Employment

Becoming a publisher often involves starting out in a lower-level position, such as an editor or assistant, within a publishing office. Advancement to a publisher position may come with gaining knowledge and a track record of performing effectively in the publishing environment. Employment may be found with publishing houses of various sizes that deal with a specific medium, such as books, magazines or websites, or a specific writing genre. Independent or small presses may be owned by the publishers, and entrepreneurial-minded individuals may become publishers by starting their own magazine, book publishing house or website.

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