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Publishing Overview


  "Publishing" is a very broad term – the industry produces everything from books, newspapers, and magazines to directories, greeting cards, calendars and software. While the publishing industry still primarily produces printed materials, the advent of online and other new media is causing rapid change and publishers are increasingly expanding into other media outlets, such as audio books and podcasts.

  Regardless of the product, the publishing process is relatively standardized. Editorial content is acquired, edited and illustrated; the content is "laid out" into its media form and produced; publicity, marketing and promotion departments advertise the publication; finally, the finished product is distributed to retailers, schools, libraries, newsstands and readers.

  Publishing companies primarily produce newspapers, magazines, books, and directories, such as the white and yellow pages.

  Newspapers employ the largest number of industry workers and typically own their own printing presses. In the newspaper business, journalists produce the editorial content while the publisher is typically a large company that owns, prints and markets several newspapers, such as Gannett, the McCormick Tribune Company and the Washington Post Company. For more information on the editorial aspect of newspapers, see the Journalism profile.

  Book publishing is similarly dominated by a few large companies which are primarily based in New York City, such as McGraw-Hill, Scholastic and John Wiley & Sons. Many smaller, specialized presses are located all over the country. Textbooks and professional books provide nearly half the revenues for the book publishing industry, while the other half of revenues come from adult trade - what you would typically find in a bookstore.

  Magazine publishing is also dominated by large media conglomerates such as Meredith, Hearst and Conde-Nast. While about 1,000 companies publish magazines in the United States, the 50 largest companies hold almost 70% of the market. There are two types of magazines, or periodicals: trade, or business-to-business, and consumer, which are written for a general audience. For more information on the editorial aspect of magazine publishing, see the Journalism profile.



Publishing Specialties


  Publishing is a vertically integrated industry, so it encompasses a variety of occupations. Most fall into three categories: writing and editing; production; and sales, promotion and marketing.

  Writers and editors assign and produce the editorial content of what is published. (For information on the news content of magazines and newspapers, see the Journalism profile.) Aside from newspapers and news-intensive magazines, most published material is acquired from freelance writers. Editors work with the writers to oversee the project, ensure the quality of the final product and to make sure that editorial guidelines are followed and deadlines are met. Also within the editorial department are art designers and photographers, who illustrate the written material and design the overall look of publication, including the font, artwork and layout.

  Those who work in production administer all aspects of the production process: they try to keep printing costs low while ensuring that production schedules are set and deadlines are followed. On the technical side, prepress technicians scan images and assist with page layout and camera work. Printing press operators set up and run the presses that will print the editorial material. Those who work on the press side of production also ensure that the product is delivered.

  Sales, promotion and marketing is also heavily involved in publishing. Newspapers and magazines rely on advertising for revenue, so advertising sales agents obtain ad sales by emphasizing the demographic to which the publication appeals as well as its circulation. At the same time, advertising and promotion managers, or circulation directors, study trends and create promotions to attract new readers.

  Because books do not contain ads, book publishers generate sales by using publicists to promote publications by setting up media interviews, book reviews and author signings. Sales representatives sell books to libraries, schools and bookstores and also find additional outlets for revenues, such as book clubs, audio and e-books.



Publishing Breaking In


  Overall employment in the publishing industry is expected to decline because jobs in newspapers are being cut due to the increasing popularity of online news, and production jobs are being lost to automation of the printing process. Book sales continue to grow, while those of periodicals and directories remain strong. Competition for writing and editing job is fierce, particularly at nationally known publications.

What Employers Want:

  For those interested in writing and editing, a bachelor’s degree in English and/or Writing Seminars is a good choice. Writers and editors need excellent communication, critical thinking and organizational skills, in addition to the ability to think and write under pressure. Students interested in art design or photography should have bachelor’s degrees in graphic design and be familiar with digital photography and software.

  Internships at publishing companies and publications are crucial to gaining an entry-level job after graduation, as is familiarity with the software used in the industry, including Adobe InDesign and Quark.

  Students interested in sales and production should have backgrounds in business administration and marketing. Internships at campus and professional publications and at public relations firms are also important, as is sales experience.

  As new medias evolve and emerge, those with the flexibility to work in different medias will find the most opportunities in publishing.

What They Hire Undergraduates to Do:

  Entry-level positions in editing and writing are typically as assistants, fact-checkers, copy editors, and researchers. Entry-level sales, publicity and marketing jobs are also available. Most large publishing houses have entry-level associate programs, in which recent graduates are rotated to the different areas of the industry to explore their strengths, network and gain experience.



Publishing Alumni


Sara Clemence- Lifestyle Editor, Conde Nast Portfolio, International Studies, Class of 1996

  1. How did you get interested in your field? Was it your original goal when you started at Hopkins? - I thought I wanted to go into the Foreign Service, or work for the UN. I was always best at writing, and enjoyed it most, but my family had raised me to believe it wasn't a viable/legitimate career choice. I took writing classes throughout my years, and during my junior year abroad decided to take on a writing minor.
  2. What was your first job after college? Was it in your current field? - Not at all. I was a private banking analyst at JP Morgan. I was recruited from school, and though the job was not a good fit, I'm glad I did it. I learned not to be afraid of finance, that money didn't make up for being unhappy at your job.
  3. What advice do you have for current students? - Explore. Do the things you enjoy most, because those are the things you will be best at. Take classes from teachers who care and inspire, because you will learn more.
  4. What is your typical day like? - I arrive at the office around 9, check my email and the editorial schedule. I usually edit a couple of stories, sometimes sending them back to writers for changes. I try to come up with some ideas, review pitches and make assignments. I usually have a meeting every other day or so. I attend events a few evenings a week.
  5. What’s most rewarding about your industry and/ or job? What's most challenging? - Rewarding: I learn every day. When I was a newspaper journalist, I felt like I was making a difference in people's lives. As an editor, I help writers and stories fulfill more of their potential. It's great to get a scoop. And because I've appeared on television, I get a fair amount of attention at reunions! Challenging: It's rare that you will make a fortune in journalism. It's very competitive, especially in New York. Newspapers have been in decline, which is sad and shrinks the job market. You have to pay a lot of dues. And it can be very stressful!
  6. What are typical entry-level positions for this field? What tips do you have for students to be successful in these positions? - Editorial assistant, news assistant, junior reporter, desk clerk. The advice is the same as in any industry. Work hard, show initiative, have a good attitude. You make have to do sucky grunt work, but if you're always complaining and acting like you're above it, nobody will want to give you anything better.
  7. Where do you see the field going in the next 5-10 years? - More towards digital media. More video. It will be increasingly valuable to have a range of skills. Being an expert in something--anything!--will be more important.
  8. What skills and out-of-class experiences are ideal for entering your industry / career field? - Strong writing skills, ability to generate ideas, accuracy
  9. Where can someone in an entry-level position expect to be in two years? Five years? Ten years? - Depends on education and experience. Traditionally, two or three years as an ea or junior reporter, then a reporter or writer, and an editor within ten years. But not everyone wants to be an editor.

Josh Orenstein- Director of Financial & Business Products, Associated Press English, Class of 1990, M.B.A. Finance, 1995

  1. How did you get interested in your field? Was it your original goal when you started at Hopkins? - Always been passionate about media; at Hopkins & immediately after, I pursued the editorial side; then switched to business side.
  2. What was your career path? How did you get to where you are today? - From writer to editor to editorial management to business school to content finance to business development/marketing
  3. What was your first job after college? Was it in your current field? - Sports Information Intern at North Carolina State University; yes, a media role
  4. What advice do you have for current students? - Figure out what gets you excited and get as much experience as you can and meet as many people in that area as you can.
  5. What is your typical day like? - Reading, meeting, analyzing, writing, presenting
  6. What’s most rewarding about your industry and/ or job? What's most challenging? - Rewarding: The flow of high quality, objective, reliable information to the public is essential to our way of life. Challenging: constant change
  7. What are typical entry-level positions for this field? What tips do you have for students to be successful in these positions? - On the business side -- marketing assistant, finance assistant
  8. Where do you see the field going in the next 5-10 years? - More nimble, more digital, more personalized -- much more consumer-focused
  9. What skills and out-of-class experiences are ideal for entering your industry/career field? - Familiarity w/ media, enthusiasm, determination
  10. Which professional organizations and resources should students look into or get involved with? - Magazine Publishers of America, Direct Marketing Association, and PaidContent.org.
  11. What related occupations and industries would you recommend students explore who are interested in your industry or career field? - Consulting, research analyst

Additional Alumni Profiles

    Networking with alumni and other professionals who work in these fields can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Use Johns Hopkins Connect to contact alumni to ask for their advice. You may also find professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family.

    If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.

    LinkedIn.com - a professional networking site where you can identify Hopkins alumni. Join the LinkedIn Johns Hopkins University Alumni Group to add over 4000+ alumni to your network.


Publishing Resources


Resources:

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Industry Websites:

Networking:

  Networking with professionals who work in this field can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family can be very helpful. You may also explore career opportunities by talking with employers at career fairs, and company presentations.

  Internships - research positions and summer employment are highly effective ways for you to try out a field, gain experience and skills and make professional contacts.



Publishing Related


  If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.