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Career As An Author

Career Description

Authors develop original written materials for books,  magazines, trade journals, online publications, company newsletters, radio and television broadcasts, motion pictures, and advertisements. Their works are classified broadly as either fiction or nonfiction.

Common Work Tasks

  • Select the material they want to use, organize it, and use the written word to express story lines, ideas, or to convey information
  • Research a topic of interest
  • Revise or rewrite sections, searching for the best organization or the right phrasing
  • Create short fiction or poetry
  • Prepare text for Web sites
  • Contract with publishers first to write a book or an article
  • Use computers extensively to write and edit copy
  • Review edits, topics, and production schedules

Other Job Titles

Authors are also known by other titles, including:

  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Journalist
  • Copy Writer
  • Blogger

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Some employers look for a broad liberal arts background, while others prefer to hire people with degrees in communications, journalism, or English. For those who specialize in a particular area, such as fashion, business, or law, additional background in the chosen field is expected.

Familiarity with electronic publishing, graphics, and video production increasingly is needed. Use of electronic and wireless communications equipment to send e-mail,  transmit work, and review copy often is necessary. Online newspapers and magazines require knowledge of computer software used to combine online text with graphics, audio, video, and animation.

High school and college newspapers, literary magazines, community newspapers, and radio and television stations all provide valuable—but sometimes unpaid—practical writing experience. Many magazines, newspapers, and broadcast stations have internships for students. Interns write short pieces, conduct research and interviews, and learn about the publishing or broadcasting business.


The median annual salary for an Author is $50,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $99,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $27,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of authors are:

  • Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers - $48,200
  • Advertising and Related Services - $65,190
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting - $54,660
  • Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations - $58,820
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries - $95,250

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  13%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 17,000
  • Employment 2006 : 135,000
  • Employment 2016:  153,000
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