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Careers In Culture
Writing and Publishing - What You Need to Know
Focus on Your Career
On this page:
The future of words
The Electronic Universe
Are you interested in computers and the Internet but don’t speak “techie?” Then there’s great news for you. Writers are flocking to the Internet. Publishers are offering content – be it excerpts or full stories – in electronic formats available for purchase on the Internet. Why? Because the Internet is a new cultural forum that reflects the changing values, issues and attitudes of our society. And it is providing room for all kinds of writers to have their work read. Self-publishing in this new universe is not only viable from a cost point of view, but brings a potential world-wide audience. A blog gives a writer with creativity and originality an easy opportunity to reach new audiences, exchange and collaborate with other writers, and find inspiration for new projects. Writing can be presented in new and different production formats, and publishers are using new technologies to bring their works to the marketplace.
Expect the Unexpected!
Companies with writing and publishing positions are hiring fewer full-time workers. Increasingly they have a core staff and then hire contract workers as needed. This means your career path in writing and publishing is likely to take many unexpected turns. Here’s an example. You could:
- Start as a copy-editor in a publishing house.
- Then become a freelancer and sell your own articles.
- Then be hired by a marketing company to design and produce their employee e-newsletter.
Get the picture? Your flexibility and learning skills will help you take advantage of the career opportunities – expected or unexpected – that come your way.
Bytes versus Books
While myriad alternate formats for reading have appeared – including e-books and simply reading from a computer screen – they cannot replace the experience of holding a book in your hand. In fact, recent reports show that market demand in Canada for printed books continues to grow. Do you think books will disappear? How has online publishing affected your reading habits? Do you see any future trend in writing and publishing that could change the shape of your career possibilities?
Copyright: Do You Own Your Words?
Protecting your copyright – your ownership of the writing you create – has become increasingly important in the digital age. Text can be written once and then used in myriad ways: in a book or magazine, as digital content for sale on the Internet, as part of an advertising campaign for a product or an idea, and in as many other ways as our multimedia environment can imagine. For example, you grant permission to a magazine to publish your article. The magazine also posts your article on its website. Did you give the company permission to publish your article in electronic form? As a creator, it is very important that you protect your intellectual property and that you get fairly paid for all uses of your work. You protect your rights through contracts and, in Canada, through the copyright protection obtained simply by being a published author. When you negotiate a contract, make sure you are paid for any other potential uses of your work. If you are not sure of future uses of a work, only include specified rights in any contract you sign, leaving the option to negotiate other format and market rights later.
For help learning how to protect your copyright, check out these websites:
- Access: The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency
- Canadian Heritage’s information on copyright
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office (keep same url)
- CARCC: Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective (although for visual and media artists, their forms and other information could be adapted to this discipline).
- CARFAC (especially their model contract)
- Creators Rights Alliance (especially for international rights).
- Editors’ Association of Canada’s standard freelance editorial agreement
- Industry Canada’s information on intellectual property
- Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada
- The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service
Do you think that writing and publishing may be a career path that would really suit your interests, talents and skills? That's great! Now's the time to think about some of the realities. See if you can guess which statements below are true and which are false.
Question 1: Many writers don't have steady incomes.
Question 2: Breaking into writing and publishing is easy.
Question 3: Persistence is an important trait for writers who wish to publish books or articles.
Question 4: Recent college and university graduates get editorial jobs where they are responsible for buying articles and books and working with authors.
Question 5: A writer's talent alone will guarantee career success.
Question 6: Hands-on experience such as working in a bookstore can open doors to writing and publishing careers.
Question 7: Once you've gotten work in writing and publishing, you really don't need any more education.
Most writers work on a contract basis which may not provide regular work.
You need a solid educational background, a love of reading, good contacts and excellent work search strategies.
Almost all creative writers receive rejections during their career.
Recent graduates usually begin work in a publishing house in a marketing or administrative support position.
Writers today need business and interpersonal skills to market their writing products.
Hands-on experience in any aspect of writing and publishing is an excellent way to establish your credentials and gain contacts.