Publishing today: Opportunities, Career Choices, and the Path to a Successful and Fulfilling Career

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Read all about the exciting world of publishing and the many career paths it offers upcoming entrants in the job market. Aside from new entrants, publishing also offers several roles and jobs for those contemplating rejoining the workforce after a long break.

Today, publishing is classified as traditional publishing (print) and digital publishing (electronic). All content processing jobs are in higher demand than ever before. So earlier you had copy editors, proofreaders, proof editors, and technical editors. Today, in addition, you have content processors, content editors, content writers, content collators, subject-matter experts, instructional designers, and so on. All of them work with and process content. Since digital marketing is significantly replacing print-based communication of products, there are numerous opportunities in digital marketing too. The traveling salesman is a dying breed. I have not met a sales representative in publishing who is less than 35 years old in the last few years. Youngsters today are not too keen on the traditional methods of calling on clients and selling to them. But publishers do need sales representatives for the last mile and to close deals. Technology and technology-led solutions are driving investments in publishing. There are immense avenues for content and technology collaborations. The design, typesetting, and e-conversion of content is a separate industry by itself. So is printing.

According to Madhavan, who has made publishing his career of choice for well over 35 years now, working with different genres of books makes a career in publishing exciting and gratifying. Every book, even ones of the same topic, is different. As such, working with different authors and books has been the most exciting and gratifying aspect of his work.

For him, the publishing business has evolved quite a bit since he first entered this space: the shift from print to digital is a big game changer. India is still considered a print market. But even in India, behavioral patterns of consumption of news, entertainment, and reading have changed drastically. And yet, the biggest constant is the need for quality in processing content and quality in the final product.

For someone to succeed in this space, it is important for them to have above-par communication skills, technological skills, and domain expertise. The entrepreneurs and the big bosses in publishing will always be the market-facing, marketing knowing, and market savvy. Employees with sales and market knowledge are a big plus for any organization. As in any field, higher academic credentials will help. But they can be in any subject or genre. Inter-disciplinary success is the most common.

He says, “In the last 35 years, I have worked with over 4,000 authors. I have published books and content in all genres including school, college, general, law, fiction, etc. These are together some of the high points in my career and certainly some of the most challenging work done.”

The secret sauce to a successful career in publishing is the love and romance of conceptualizing a book project, seeing it through its various stages. As such, a virtual birth-to-death connection. Ultimately, love and passion for the work will separate the winners from the also-rans.

For top-notch professionals, the pay is extremely good. The entry-level salaries are middling, and progress is slow. He says he has known content processors, editors start at 25K and move on to a 100K in 7 years. When asked whether publishers are forgiving or accepting of frequent career changers, he says, “Of course, the number of players has shrunk amongst the big names. But, opportunities might shrink for frequent job-hoppers.”

Market-facing editors and others will certainly need to travel quite a bit. But in general, editing jobs are desk-based and hence opportunities abound for freelance work and work from home. Innumerable opportunities in content processing jobs ( copyediting/proofreading) are available. Likewise, those with knowledge of Photoshop and InDesign can opt for freelance or part-time assignments.

Even if one is not an avid book reader, and prefers reading short articles online, depending on your subjects of interest and the type of publishing you want to be part of, there are numerous opportunities in publishing. For those with a creative and artistic bent of mind, there are a few career options in publishing. Because all publishers require creative employees in various aspects of their day-to-day functioning, those with a creative bent of mind can choose design departments, editorial departments, and art and production departments in publishing.

P.K. Madhavan, PhD, has over 35 years of experience in publishing. He started his career with McGraw-Hill (MH), India, and worked in their Chennai and Delhi offices. He has worked in sales, acquisitions, editing and content collation while with MH. He then moved to Vikas Publishing House as Head, College Division, and worked for 7 years. In addition to managing national sales and acquisitions, he also handled product, promotion and marketing. In 2004, he set up Vijay Nicole Imprints. In 2019, he completed his PhD on “Authors, Copyright and Book Publishing in the Digital Era.” His firm Vijay Nicole has a unique strategic tie-up with Newgen KnowledgeWorks to leverage digital publishing and content strengths.

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