What Words People Do                       Work Search Strategies
Careers In Culture

Writing and Publishing - What You Need to Do

Career Routes

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Moving toward your words career

So you're interested in a career in writing and publishing. Perhaps you'd like to be a novelist or poet, a freelance writer or editor. Perhaps you want to work in a publishing house or develop expertise in corporate communications or technical writing. Or maybe you love multimedia products and want to get involved in computer games or educational tools. Whatever you decide, you've chosen a field with many occupations and career routes. Most people work in different areas within a company, move from company to company, or move in and out of freelance work. There's no set of fixed steps in a writing and publishing career.

People come to word careers from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, and their career routes are often unique, depending on the type of work they do and the opportunities they find. However, for people who want to work in this field, there are four “musts”: excellent language skills, a college or university education, computer skills and hands-on experience.

Excellent Language Skills

How strong are your language skills? Can you communicate effectively when you speak and write? Do you continually add to your vocabulary by learning new words? Can you write grammatically and punctuate accurately? If you are pursuing a career in writing and publishing, excellent language and writing skills are paramount. And you must continually strive for improvement. Adopt a life-long learning attitude to maintain the edge in your creative and technical writing. Read as much as you can and take language and literature courses. Try your hand at different types of writing. Keep a journal, try poetry, write an article, or work on a short story. Are you still in school? Then think of your school essays as opportunities to sharpen your skill. The best way to be a writer is to “do it”.

A College or University Education

Your high school diploma is a good start towards a career in writing and publishing, but generally, it will not be enough to find work. Most employers are looking for people with college diplomas or university degrees. You can major in English, but you can also major in many other fields and still find your way into a word career. What’s important about your education is the knowledge you gain about the world and the learning skills you develop during your studies.

Hone Computer Skills

No matter what kind of writing or publishing career you are interested in, computers have become an essential tool. Writers benefit from computerized accounting skills to track their earnings and expenses. Nearly all careers in this discipline rely on the Internet – for example, e-mail, browsing, web design and e-commerce – to research, develop, market and promote their products. Sophisticated electronic tools are essential in many aspects of this profession. Improve your employability by increasing your computer skills whenever you have a chance.

Give Your Career a Boost!

Many people in the writing and publishing professions find that having a certificate, diploma or degree in a writing and publishing specialty has helped them find work. Check your community college, local university, publishing and writers’ organizations to see if they offer workshops, courses and/or programs in:

  • Creative writing
  • Desktop publishing
  • Marketing
  • Public relations
  • Technical writing
  • Multimedia
  • Printing
  • Book publishing
  • Magazine publishing
  • Web design
  • Journalism

Hands-on experience

Managers in this field look for people with practical knowledge in writing, editing and publishing. Wondering how you can get hands-on experience? Use the following exercise to see how you can expand your practical skills and gain valuable contacts.

The "I Want Experience" Checklist


If I'm a student, I could...

  • Work on my school newspaper, literary magazine and/or yearbook to get writing and production skills.
  • Enter my work in local, provincial/territorial and national writing contests.
  • Become a peer tutor at my school to help other students with their writing and editing skills.
  • Get a part-time or summer job at a bookstore to leam about book and magazine publishing and sales.
  • Volunteer at a publishing house if there's one in my community.
  • Get a part-time or summer job at a local print shop to learn about paper, binding, printing and desktop publishing.
  • Volunteer to work at my local cable channel network to leam about sales, marketing and promotion.
  • Be part of a school club that brings in writers, editors and communicators to talk about their work experiences.
  • Do a co-op placement relating to writing and publishing.
  • Volunteer at my local or school library.

If I'm an artist in transition, I could...

  • Volunteer to help develop public relations materials at a non-profit agency.
  • Take night courses in writing, editing, communications, web design and desktop publishing.
  • Build my writing portfolio by sending my writing to my community newspaper and small literary magazines for publication.
  • Volunteer at writers' festivals and book fairs.
  • Join a local writers' group or association and attend lectures and workshops.
  • Volunteer at a publishing house if there's one in my community.

If I'm a worker in transition, I could...

  • Volunteer to help develop public relations materials at a non-profit agency.
  • Take night courses in writing, editing, communications, web design and desktop publishing.
  • Get a job at a local print shop to learn about paper, binding, printing and desktop publishing.
  • Get a job at a local graphic design or web design company.
  • Join a local writers' group or association and attend lectures and workshops.
  • Volunteer at a publishing house if there's one in my community, or at my local library.
  • Get a job at a bookstore to leam about book and magazine publishing and sales.

Learning Paths

There are many routes to entering a career in writing and publishing. Here are some of the paths you might take. Remember that you can get a university degree in almost any field and then give your writing and publishing career a boost with a college certificate or diploma in a specialized program.

Learning Paths


 

  • Essayist
  • Fiction writer
  • Non-fiction author
  • Playwright
  • Poet
  • Screenwriter
  • Teacher of writing
  • Assistant editor
  • Copy-editor
  • Editor
  • Proofreader
  • Terminologist
  • Translator
  • Project team leader
  • Technical terminologist
  • Technical writer/editor
  • Editor-in-chief
  • Managing editor
  • Researcher
  • Senior editor
  • Art director
  • Publisher
  • Book production designer
  • Bookseller
  • Business reporter
  • Business writer
  • Corporate communicator
  • Marketing manager
  • Promotions manager
  • Sales representative
  • E-commerce manager
  • Course designer/Instructional designer/content designer
  • Multimedia scriptwriter
  • Project leader/creative director
  • Web designer
  • Graphic designer
  • Instructional multimedia designer
  • Copy-editor
  • Corporate communicator
  • Journalist
  • Newsletter writer/editor
  • Newspaper editor
  • Newspaper publisher
  • Proofreader
  • Communications strategist
  • Public relations officer/Communications officer/Corporate communicator
  • sales and promotions manager
  • Senior public relations officer/communications officer
  • Editor, textbooks
  • Science/computer writer or journalist
  • Technical writer/editor
  • Terminologist

Since there's a good change you will be working freelance at some time during your writing and publishing career, you will have to take responsibility for your own learning and follow your own plan for upgrading your skills and knowledge.

Want to learn more about education programs and schools? Talk to:

  • A teacher or career/guidance counsellor.
  • A local librarian.
  • Arts organizations in your community.
  • The professional organizations listed on this website