Publishing is about creating and distributing content: this could be books, magazines/newspapers or online publishing. The growth of online publishing means that the lines between these different areas are increasingly blurred. Traditional publishing houses may now publish e-book editions; magazines often link to a companion website; and most newspapers now have an online edition.
There are many different sectors within publishing, including general and consumer books, children's books and educational/academic/specialist publishing. Magazines/journals can include ‘business to business’, ‘business to consumer’, and contract publishing.
Job roles in publishing companies fall into four main areas. There are also, increasingly, jobs for web developers and multimedia content creators as well as the usual business support functions that most companies require.
Researchers/writers: the job is to originate content; this could include interviewing people or identifying and analysing data and then writing an article that suits the publication you work for. Picture researchers source suitable images to accompany articles.
Copy-editors and sub-editors: the job is to rewrite text to ensure that it is accurate and fits the style of a publication. Sub-editors (in newspapers and magazines) do a similar job but also write headlines and abstracts and may be involved in production (eg page layup and copy fitting). Proofreaders, who often work freelance, check copy for accuracy before it goes to print.
Editors: this is a broad job title and actual responsibilities will vary depending on the sector and employer. It could involve commissioning content and liaising with writers (commissioning/acquisition editors) – where there is often a strong commercial focus – or managing production processes (desk editors).
Entry-level editorial roles include editorial assistant, trainee editor and editorial administrator.
Design and production
Design work involves designing publications, page layup and preparing titles for print (or web publication). A graphic design qualification is usually required. Print production is closely related and involves managing schedules and product specifications and liaising with printers.
Marketing and distribution
Marketing staff ensure that awareness of a publication reaches the widest possible audience, whether through advertising, promotions, social media etc. Distribution staff manage circulation to ensure that print publications reach their point of sale or manage subscriptions.
Most publications (print and online) are subsidised by advertising revenue, so the sales team are a key part of a publishing business.