Business Overview

Publishing companies have historically focused on physically printing books, but now, that is shifting more toward digital publishing. This works for both the consumer and the publisher because the consumer's desire to read text via digital devices dovetails nicely with the publisher's desire to keep costs down.

Who is this business right for?

First and foremost, this is a business for those who love books. In addition to working in a field you'll love, the fact that certain books are hits and other books flop means you will need a keen eye when deciding to publish what may become the next big thing. The job is also good for a multi-tasker because, especially when first starting out, you will be doing many things besides “only” publishing books. This includes setting up book tours, book-related events, and handling most of the marketing of the text. Finally, this job is good for a “people person,” as you will be dealing with a wide variety of authors, bookstore managers, and advertisers.

What happens during a typical day at a publishing company?

The exact day-to-day activities of your publishing business will vary depending on the size of the business itself. For instance, if you start out as the only employee of your business, a good part of any given day may be dedicated to reading and editing manuscripts. You may meet with authors and decide whether or not to publish their work and, after it is edited and otherwise cleaned up, you will be figuring out how to promote and sell the book. This includes designing an attractive cover (important even for digital texts) and marketing it through traditional and non-traditional avenues. Each day should also have a dedicated chunk of time for responding to emails and returning calls. As a small publisher, you will also be fielding the incoming phone calls yourself. Finally, even the pleasurable act of reading becomes a part of your job as you should constantly be studying what is trending and, more importantly, what is about to trend so that you can be more successful in promoting your authors.

What is the target market?

Generally speaking, the best clients for a publisher are those who are simultaneously passionate about their work but open to suggestion. This is a surprisingly fine line, as many authors are hesitant to change much of their work in order to make it more marketable and more successful. Others may think they don't really need a professional publisher because it is easier than ever to self-publish. Thus, the best author to work with is committed to making their book succeed, being willing to edit as necessary and understanding your role as a professional facilitator of their success.

How does a publishing company make money?

On the most basic level, publishing companies make money through the sales of their authors' books. The writer and publisher will sign a contract that works out a certain percentage of royalties that will be paid to the author for the sale of each book. The remaining money goes to the publisher, which is one of the reasons that digital books are so attractive to market and sell, as it lowers the overhead that will eat into your business profits.

What is the growth potential for a publishing company?

The growth potential for a publishing business is decent. The industry itself has held steady, bringing in about $28 billion for the last several years. Businesses that start small and focus on digital texts also have great potential to branch out into traditional print publishing, audio books, and other formats as both technology and public taste evolve.