By Amberly Finarelli with contributors Laura West, Joe Perry, and Joanne McCall

Though they often get most of the attention, the publishing industry is made up of more than writers and editors. Cover designers, interior layout designers, and attorneys who specifically advise on publishing and copyright laws are just a few other careers in book publishing. If you’ve ever thought of a career in the publishing industry, consider making an impact—and an income—in one of these jobs:

Cover designer: Designs the front cover, spine, and back cover of the book, sometimes with design concept ideas from the author, sometimes not. Must take into account font styles and how they appeal to readers, other books’ design in similar genres, spine width (dependent on length of book, i.e., number of pages and thickness of the book). Must also take into account the realities of an ebook cover (i.e., using white space around a cover will get “lost” in a thumbnail image if a buyer is looking at it online).

Interior layout designer: Designs the interior of the book: font used, margins, how headings/subheadings are formatted, inserting tables, callouts, photos, footnotes/endnotes. This role requires a keen eye for detail, an understanding of typography, and the ability to create a seamless reading experience across different mediums.

Publicist: Book publicist: Either independent or through an agency or firm, assists authors in garnering widespread publicity, recognition, and visibility for their books.

Publishing attorney: Helps negotiate author/illustrator contracts, publishing agreements, and literary agent agreements, and reviews manuscripts for potential legal issues like copyright or trademark infringement, libel, and right of privacy.

Book coach: Help authors with the development of their book—from concept to draft. Can provide one-on-one coaching, feedback, guidance related to publishing industry standards and trends.

Ghostwriter: For authors who have a story to tell but may not have the time and ability (for whatever reasons) to write their own book, a ghostwriter can essentially write the book for you. Uses interviews, notes, dictation, etc.

Freelance writer: Writes on a per-project basis (varying payment options) for magazines, blogs, newspapers, etc. Can pitch editors a solo or series article/topic, or can be assigned a topic the publication is specifically asking for.

Author’s assistant: An author’s assistant is a virtual assistant (VA) who is specifically qualified to help authors in the business side of writing: social media posts, placing book orders, researching and sending out media pitches, assisting with book publishing, researching and pitching speaking engagements, optimizing books on Amazon.

For more information on becoming an author’s assistant, click here.

Editor: Edit authors’ work from a development basis all the way down to spelling/punctuation/grammar. Some specialize in developmental editing, some prefer copy editing, while others prefer proofreading, or offer all services or claim a specialty.

For more information on becoming a freelance editor, check out Stephanie Chandler’s article here.

Want to break into editing? Check out the Editorial Freelancers’ Association (NFAA sponsor).

Literary agent: Represents authors trying to sell their books by helping authors polish their manuscript and/or book proposal, leveraging their contacts at traditional and/or hybrid publishers to pitch the author’s book, then helps sell the book, negotiate book contracts, rights sales/acquisitions, and handles royalty payments/statements on behalf of authors.

Acquisitions editor: Purchases (acquires) books on behalf of the publishing company they work for—typically based on a book proposal in the nonfiction realm. Provides editorial feedback on the book-in-progress, offers book title suggestions if needed, oversees the book’s development from sale to publication—and hopefully reprint!

Stay tuned for more in-depth articles on each job type and interviews with professionals in the industry, coming soon!

Ready to become a book publishing professional? The book publishing master course with Carla King starts in February 2024, learn more and sign up here!