How to Become a Publisher

Publisher Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $27,880
Avg. Pay / hour $13.40
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 7.3%

If you’re looking for a career in the media, love reading and publications, then you might like to become a publisher.

Publishers work to release books, novels, magazines, and other printed works to the public.

They find talent, edit works, format the final product, and also have a hand in marketing.

Publishing is a secure career that leaves plenty of room for creativity.

To be successful in this role you’ll need a broad skills base.

A publisher needs to have a good understanding of literary works and to keep abreast of what’s popular, while also being organized, pay attention to details, and always meet deadlines.

Education Requirements to Become a Publisher

A educational background to become a publisher is a four year bachelors degree.

A major in English, journalism, communications, writing, or the liberal arts would be ideal.

It’s not necessary, but a masters or other postgraduate degree in publishing would be attractive to perspective employers.

If you want to work in publishing, you need to know your field inside-out.

If you want to work with novels, read a lot of them.

The same goes for newspapers and magazines.

Spend time in local bookstores and libraries, and attend events whenever you can.

While at college, taking advantage of opportunities to complete an internship would be of great value.

This will give you experience of how a publishing house works.

You may also meet contacts which will help you to secure full-time work later on.

The publishing industry is set to decline in the next few years, due to the onset of electronic media and the internet.

This means that the industry will get more competitive, especially for entry level jobs.

You may wish to set your career path in the new media areas, for instance electronic publishing and web publishing.

Employment opportunities in these sectors will be strong.

Computer literacy is a must in the publishing industry.

If you are not picking up skills at college, then look into doing a short course.

Photo editing skills can also be helpful in formatting works, although not essential.

Publisher Job Description

When you become a publisher, you become responsible for the journey of a book from the raw workings of a writer to a finished piece on a bookshelf.

A publisher starts their work by scouring for new talent.

They keep in contact with literary agents, and are often looking at magazines, blogs, and journals for the next talent.

They also receive plenty of unsolicited submissions as well.

Most publishers will only print a handful of works each year.

A publisher will oversee the editing process of a book, and sometimes complete this themselves.

They negotiate with the author as to what stays and what goes.

They will also format a book, choosing fonts, cover art, graphic work, and mastheads in some cases.

After a book has gone to press a publisher will coordinate its launch.

They may organize events and see that the book gets plenty of good publicity, and may send out review copies to newspapers and magazines.
Some publishers work within other mediums, such as newspapers or magazines or the growing electronic publishing sector.

Publisher Salary and Career Path

When you become a publisher you should expect entry into your first job to be competitive.

You will likely start out as a publishing assistant.

There will be plenty of filing, admin, and coffee runs to keep you busy.

After a while, you could be promoted to the role of junior publisher, then to publisher when you will be able to manage your own clients.

Some publishers go on to management positions, or leave to start their own publishing houses.

The average salary for an experienced publishing manager is around $100,000 a year depending on what sector you’re in.

Those starting out would earn much less however.

You can find out more information about careers in publishing from the Association of American Publishers.

Some similar roles to that of publisher you might be interested in include:

  • Author
  • Writer
  • Journalist
  • Public relations manager
  • Sports agent
  • Administrator
  • Reporter

Publishing is an interesting industry that is currently seeing many changes.

If you would like to become a publisher, entry is competitive but those with experience have good job security and get to do what they love.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$82,360
New Jersey- NA -
New York$67,780
North Carolina$28,930
South Carolina- NA -
West Virginia$32,850

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $82,360.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $82,360
Tennessee - $69,340
New York - $67,780
Massachusetts - $65,950
Illinois - $62,830
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Desktop Publishers, OCC Code 43-9031, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a publisher do?

A publisher is someone who oversees the whole publishing process.

The main aim of a specialist is to set the editorial and commercial directions for companies that publish magazines, books, newspapers, and digital content.

A publisher can be either the owner or the chief executive officer of a publishing company.

Basically, the professional is responsible for all the daily operations (from managing the finances to selecting the manuscripts).

There is a wide range of specific categories that the publisher can focus on.

A fashion magazine publisher, for example, might focus on high-end fashion; a large company might specialize in science fiction or business textbooks, and so on.

In a nutshell, publishers have to develop publications that will appeal both to the advertisers and readers.

How much do publishers make?

On average, a publisher can make a little less than $98.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $60.000 and 250.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the location and so on.

It is challenging to estimate the earning potential of a publisher as the size of the company and the type of products also play an important role.

How much does it cost to become a publisher?

There is no universal path that one can take to become a publisher.

However, the majority of professionals have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English, communications or a related field.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job perspectives, you can go for a master’s degree in publishing (the programs can be specific and focus only on magazine or book publishing, for example); that degree will cost you $6.000-$70.000 per year.

What is th demand for publishers?

Between 2014 and 2024, the publisher’s job market is expected to shrink by 7.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That certainly is slower than the average for all occupations in the United States.

Any physical publishing companies will be experiencing a severe decline in the near future.

However, those who decide to work online will have better chances of finding a relevant job.

How long does it take to become a publisher?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree.

You can consider seeking an internship during your last years in university to get that on-job experience as it is preferable to have at least a few years of experience, in order to succeed in the industry.

There are plenty of computer classes available both online and offline; you can easily find some short-term courses that last for 1.5-2 months (in case you are interested in the online publishing business).

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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