Job Profile: Book Publisher

Job Profile: Book Publisher

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Books are amazing things. You can pick one up and travel to a world of elves, fairies, and exciting adventures. Or you can pick up another one to find out about the history of ancient Rome or about how beavers live and what part they play in the natural world. You can read a long novel or a short magazine article. Most of the time, the stories and information you read have gone through a publisher before they came to you.

What actually happens when an author wants to get a book published? Sometimes they publish the books themselves, but often they want the skills and knowledge of a publisher to help them with the process. Most publishing companies have different people who each focus on one part of the process. In smaller companies, one or two people might do all of the different steps.

The first step is usually deciding which books to publish. Sometimes, this means that an acquisitions editor will spend a lot of time reading books that people have sent in to the publisher.  The next step is editing for any problems with the book. These problems could be about the book’s contents, such as incorrect information or a confusing story line. The problems could also be much simpler issues of proofreading, such as writing “pan” instead of “pane” in a story.

Once the editing is done, the book will go to the design department where people will decide what picture to have on the cover, the size of the type font, and anything else that affects the appearance or design of the book. Even electronic (online) books need this kind of work before they are ready for sale.

Publishers are good at taking care of the many small jobs that are part of getting books ready for sale. One of these jobs is getting the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and the Cataloguing in Publication information, which helps librarians to organize the books they buy. Another task is deciding what the price should be.

After all of these small jobs are done, the book is ready to be printed and marketed.  Marketing is what happens when a publisher lets people know about a new book or magazine. They might put up posters, pay for advertisements, or go on tours to talk about what they have to sell. They might set up tables at special events and have some of the books and magazines for sale.

How do people become publishers? Sometimes all it takes is knowledge of how to sell books and the money to set up a small company. At other times, it might mean getting a low-level job at a publishing company and then learning enough to get a higher-level job. Sometimes an education in business or literature is helpful. People can work in small, local companies or in big, international ones. If you love books and you also love to organize events and keep schedules, work as a publisher might be the right thing for you.

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