Are you good with words?
Do you enjoy reading and writing?
Do you beat all your friends at Scrabble?
Do you know what is wrong with this sentence: “Between you and I, he’s hot!”
Correct is “Between you and me, he’s hot!” In this sentence the first-person pronoun is the object of the preposition “between,” and as such must be in the accusative case (“I” is nominative; “me” is accusative).
If you answered “yes” to such questions, then you might want to consider a career in the publishing industry.
Careers in publishing usually require a BA degree (a major in English is sometimes preferred, but other liberal arts majors are often perfectly acceptable). Entry-level salaries are not very high (usually $35,000-$45,000), but the potential for advancement is good. And the work is very enjoyable for a certain type of person—such as ones who answer “yes” to the above questions.
Entry-level positions in publishing include proofreading and copyediting.
The proofreader checks to make sure that any corrections that an author or a copyeditor requests to be made to a manuscript have been made correctly by the typesetter or, in this day and age, paginator (a “paginator” is someone who takes electronic Word files and sets them up “in pages” to look like a book, using a program like QuarkXPress).
The copyeditor reads the author’s manuscript to make sure that it meets various criteria. These criteria will depend on the type of book in question, though at a minimum the copyeditor ought to catch mistakes of spelling and grammar in all types of books (except for intentional mistakes, such as in novels). The copyeditor also suggests general improvements to an author’s prose, making it more vivid, succinct, and readable.
In addition, the copyeditor checks for factual errors, so a deep store of general information is also invaluable in this career. (Are you good at Jeopardy as well?) The copyeditor also enforces whatever elements of “house style” a particular publishing firm may impose on its authors (such as gender-neutral language, and the like). Finally, the copyeditor is the first line of defense against libel suits. As you can see, it is a position of some responsibility.
At the same time that a hardcopy (or now increasingly an electronic copy) of a book is readied, a marketing team will prepare the ground for its reception by the public. Traditional print advertising, publicity tours at book stores, and interviews on radio and TV still have a prominent place. But social media are now also playing a big role in getting the word out about a book and giving prominence to its author.
Still farther up the chain of command in the publishing industry is the acquisitions editor, who interacts directly with authors, solicits new manuscripts, negotiates contracts, and the like. These are the folks who get invited to the great parties and for whom publishing is a bookworm’s paradise!
And finally, there are the senior editors who decide ultimately what does and doesn’t get published at their publishing house, as well the publishing philosophy that determines the types of books and authors to publish.
Here is a helpful video by “The Book Belle” on breaking into the publishing industry: