Publishing Careers for Training in the Humanities

Professionally published articles, monographs, and educational texts constitute the very heart of communication in the academic world. Articles featured in academic journals and facilitated through academic presses communicate ideas at the forefront of disciplinary inquiry. An individual with an advanced degree in the humanities with a passion for the writing and revision process, along with an ability to work independently and with others, may consider a career in publishing.

The publishing industry is large and varied. Trade presses, for example, offer book contracts based on their likelihood to acquire popular appeal, and in turn, sell widely. Academic presses publish new findings in scholarly fields, and typically offer contracts relative to the capacity of a monograph to reshape the specialist conversation around its stated topic.

Publishers rely on staff members who occupy a number of roles, including individuals who work in editing, sales, production, and marketing. Each of these roles makes use of a “soft” skillset cultivated by graduate training in the humanities: they include close reading of texts, attention to detail, good organization, and, in academic publishing, knowledge of publication styles, including the style expectations of the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the Chicago Manual of Style.

Hard skills relevant to individual roles may require additional academic training, along with editorial and internship experience. Like other career opportunities, networking, experience, and tailoring one’s skills to the needs of specific roles can well-position candidates for openings that interest them.

Roles in publishing may require skills and experience pertaining to:

  • Coordinating with multiple parties relevant to the publication process, including authors, agents, contractors, illustrators/graphic designers, and promoters
  • Evaluating proposals for publication
  • Preparing proposals for editorial boards
  • Managing the copyediting process
  • Offering general administrative support (managing calendars, tracking deadlines, scheduling meetings)

Professional Associations in Publishing:

Job Boards for Opportunities in Publishing:

  • This web platform specializes in educating users about the book publishing industry and links users to new openings in a range of organizations.
  • Publishers Lunch Job Board: Features recent openings in publishing roles.
  • Publishing Crossing: This platform includes a private job board specializing in publishing opportunities. It requires an account to search for postings.
  • Society for Scholarly Publishing: Features a job board with recent opportunities in publishing.