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
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
- developing brands
- 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
- discussing contracts and
- predicting sales potential.
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
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
assertive and have managerial skills
- have extensive
- be able to take responsibility for
your own decisions
- have the imagination to see new
- be self-disciplined and highly
- be able to develop a team as a
- have good diplomatic and negotiating
- have knowledge of marketing, promotion and
- have an understanding of
budgeting and financial management.
Publisher Career Opportunities
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
www.publishers.org.ukThe Publishing Training Centre at Book House
45 East Hill
Tel: 020 8874 2718
www.train4publishing.co.ukThe Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
Tel: 01903 871686