Careers in publishing

Working in book publishing combines a love of books with a keen sense of business; editing, sales, marketing and production are just a few of the paths that careers in book publishing can take.

Employment environments in this cultural sector are varied: you could work for a large or small press, a literary press, university press, scholarly or educational press.

Like any other career, there is no right or sure-fire way to get a job in publishing. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you pursue a career in book publishing.

The Pay Is Low

There are many other fields that are more lucrative than book publishing, but those who work in this industry have a love for books that increases the value of the career. Publishers generally cannot afford to pay their staff high salaries, and a typical entry-level job in publishing pays roughly between $30,000 and $35,000 per year. The publishing industry trade magazine Quill & Quire performed a publishing industry salary survey in 2013. You may view it here.  Please contact Quill & Quire directly for more information.

Decide What Area Of Publishing Interests You

As mentioned above, there are many different types of publishing firms. Determine what type of book, or books, you would like to work on — novels, poetry, textbooks, non-fiction, etc. – and then find out which companies publish those books by visiting the library, a bookstore, or taking a close look at our membership directory.


Internships are a valuable way to gain practical experience in the industry. Most internships are unpaid are offered to students enrolled-in, or recently graduated-from publishing or related programs. Internships vary in length, and can last anywhere from three months to a year.

Editorial vs. Sales & Marketing vs. Production

Before applying to internships, it is valuable to consider what type of job you want. In publishing there are several main areas of focus: editorial, sales and marketing, production, and digital. Editorial staff helps to create books; sales and marketing staff sells them; the production team ensures that books are made properly; and the digital team produces ebooks, audits metadata, and creates content and strategy for digital marketing campaigns. It is important to note that digital elements of publishing are crucial to the success of publishers, and almost every publishing job will encompass a digital element. For those interested in a career in editing, Editors Canada has published an information guide “So You Want to Be an Editor: Information about a career in editing”.

Some companies also handle their own distribution, in which case there are warehouse jobs available. For the artistically inclined, many firms also need in-house designers. Research about jobs will help you determine where your interest lies and what jobs would best suit you.

Related Jobs

Related jobs outside of book publishing are often a good way to get into the book industry. A job at a bookstore would expose you to an important facet of book publishing, and you’ll likely come in contact with sales representatives, who routinely visit bookstores on sales calls. Their visits allow you to learn about each company’s publishing program and potentially establish a contact person inside a publishing firm.

Jobs are available at various industry associations and at authors’ festivals and book fairs. Any kind of exposure to books and the book industry will help.