Writers and authors develop written material for fiction and non-fiction publications. This includes books, newspapers, online media, corporate newsletters, magazines and journals, and advertising. For example, fiction writers and authors create novels, plays and poetry, while non-fiction writers may focus on textbooks or biographies. Many writers also produce content for film, radio and television. Copywriters focus on creating advertising, sales collateral and other marketing communications materials for companies in order to promote a particular product or service.
Through research, interviews and personal observation, writers and authors are able to transform ideas into words. They generally use computers to prepare and send their finished written documents for publication. Writers may work directly for a company or publisher, or complete assignments on a freelance basis. Freelance writers earn a living by completing short-term or ongoing assignments such as writing a weekly column for a newspaper, producing a series of articles for a magazine or writing for a corporate blog.
Writers Job Summary
- Most employers look for writers who have a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, journalism or a related area and possess excellent writing skills.
- Some writers employed by companies or publishers work in an office setting, while many others work from home on a freelance basis.
- Individuals can obtain writing experience by working for a high school, college or community publication; submitting works of fiction to literary magazines or online publications; or completing internships at newspapers, magazines, and television and radio stations.
- Employment in this field is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations.
Work Environment for Writers and Authors
Changes in technology have influenced the work environment for many writers and authors. Laptops and mobile communication technology allow many of them to work remotely. They are able to send emails and text messages, conduct research and read content through the Internet, which allows for increased flexibility in how and where they work on projects. Some writers work in offices during standard business hours; however, many writers set their own schedules. Those working for a publisher or company usually work in an office in order to stay in contact with editors or sources. Freelance writers receive payment per assignment and work the amount of hours needed to meet their deadlines. This means that freelance writers need to be able to work nights and weekends in order to finish their assignment by the due date requested by their editor or client.
Education and Training for Writers
To prepare for a career as a writer or author, students can obtain a bachelor’s degree in Communications, English or journalism. Those who have a degree in another field but are able to demonstrate excellent writing skills can also find employment as writers or authors. Individuals wishing to focus on a specific subject or topic may need to have education or experience in that area. This is especially the case for textbook writers who need to understand their subject thoroughly.
Knowledge of word processing and desktop publishing software are necessary in this field, as is an ability to conduct research via the Internet. Writers can gain experience writing blogs or through self-publishing e-books over the Internet. This type of writing can lead to paid positions based on the size of the writer’s audience, credibility and unique viewpoint.
Training can be acquired by working at a high school, college or community newspaper as well as submitting works of fiction to literary magazines or online publications. Playwrights and songwriters can gain experience producing work for college theatre and music productions. Internships are also available through newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations. There, interns can write and produce stories, conduct interviews and do research as they learn about the publishing or broadcast industry.
Job Projections, Outlook and Earnings for Writers and Authors
Writers and authors held approximately 43,390 jobs in May 2009, according to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most of these positions were with newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers; advertising, public relations and related services agencies; and radio and television broadcasters. Others were employed in the motion picture and video industries or worked as independent artists, writers, desktop publishers and performers.
Employment in this field is forecasted by the BLS to grow about as fast as average compared to other occupations. The demand for writers and authors will come from companies and organizations in need of multimedia and online content due to the growth in Internet publications and services.
BLS records for May 2009 indicate that the average annual wage for writers and authors was $64,560. The middle 50% earned between $38,760 and $75,740. While the lowest 10% had a yearly salary of about $28,070, the highest 10% earned upwards of $105,710 annually.