Publisher Careers

How to become Publisher

What does a Publisher do?

Publishers are senior managers within publishing houses. Their responsibilities vary according to the size and nature of the publishing operation. They can also be known as publishing managers or publishing directors. Sometimes the title ‘publisher’ can be given to the owner of a small press (independent publisher) or the chief executive officer of a large publishing house.

Publishers specialise in different markets, and develop appropriate publishing strategies. They may work in consumer books (including fiction and non- fiction), educational, children’s or electronic publishing. Small presses may build even more specialised catalogues in distinct or niche genres (eg post-war poetry).

Publishers often manage other departmental managers including sales and marketing, finance, rights, publicity, production, and editorial staff. They coordinate the direction of the publishing house’s business by communicating between various departments, usually in meetings. They might also work closely with managing and commissioning editors.

Key roles include:

  • working within an agreed business plan and financial forecast
  • monitoring editorial quality
  • developing brands
  • managing teams
  • developing tactical marketing plans.
Publishers of small presses may take responsibility for some of the roles dealt with by departmental managers in larger houses. They may develop, manage or commission a list of authors. This could involve:
  • liaising with literary agents
  • encouraging authors
  • discussing contracts and timings
  • predicting sales potential.
Further information about independent publishers is available on the Independent Publishers Guild website. The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers has information on publishing within the not- for-profit environment (eg learned societies and university presses). General information about the publishing industry is available through the bookcareers website. Please see the Further Information section for contact details.

What's the working environment like working as a Publisher?

Publishers’ working hours vary considerably but they are likely to work long and irregular hours, including some evenings and weekends. Publishers are responsible for the financial success of their operation, and are likely to be under considerable pressure to deliver within budget according to the business plan.

The work is office-based and much of the time is spent in meetings. There could be a considerable amount of travel around the UK and overseas, depending on the size and locations of the publishing house.

What does it take to become a Publisher?

To be a publisher you should:

  • be innovative and dynamic with good commercial awareness
  • be assertive and have managerial skills
  • have extensive market knowledge
  • be able to take responsibility for your own decisions
  • have the imagination to see new distribution prospects
  • be self-disciplined and highly motivated
  • be able to develop a team as a leader
  • have good diplomatic and negotiating skills
  • have knowledge of marketing, promotion and publishing strategies
  • have an understanding of budgeting and financial management.

Publisher Career Opportunities

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Publisher that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Publishers Association
29B Montague Street
Tel: 020 7691 9191

The Publishing Training Centre at Book House
45 East Hill
SW18 2QZ
Tel: 020 8874 2718

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
South House
The Street
West Sussex
BN13 3UU
Tel: 01903 871686

Similar careers