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Writing and Editing

Writers and editors communicate through the written word. Writers and editors can be divided into three categories - writers and authors (including nonfiction writers and creative writers), technical writers / science and medical writers, and editors (those working in the publishing industry and those working for newspapers or magazines).

Writing and EditingWriters and editors held about 319,000 jobs in 2002: Writers and authors held about 139,000 jobs; technical writers, about 50,000 jobs; and editors, about 130,000 jobs. More than one-third of writers and editors were self-employed.

Generally, writers and editors must have college degrees. Often a broad liberal arts background is desirable, but some employers prefer a degree in communications, journalism, or English. When specializing in a particular subject area, a degree in that field is important.

Writers and editors should be able to express ideas clearly in writing and should also love to write. Also desirable are creativity, curiosity, a broad range of knowledge, self-motivation, and perseverance. Employers often appreciate unpaid practical experience, such as that gained through work on school newspapers and internships.

In smaller companies, beginning writers and editors may begin writing and editing immediately. In larger firms those starting out may do research, fact checking, or copy editing before moving onto full-scale writing or editing assignments.

Employment of writers and editors is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012. Demand is greatest for technical writers and those with training in a specialized field. Employment of salaried writers and editors for newspapers, periodicals, book publishers, and nonprofit organizations is expected to increase.*

A writer`s work can include:

  • creating original works, e.g. prose, poetry, song lyrics, or plays;

  • proposing topics about which to write or receiving assignments;

  • gathering information about the topic;

  • selecting and organizing the material he or she has gathered;

  • using the written word to express ideas and convey information;

  • revising or rewriting material;

  • preparing advertising copy;

  • selling one`s work to publishers, advertising agencies, public relations firms, and publication enterprises;


  • An editor`s work can include:

  • reviewing, rewriting, and editing the work of writers;

  • planning the content of books, journals, and magazines;

  • deciding what material will appeal to readers;

  • reviewing and editing drafts of books and articles;

  • offering comments to improve the work;

  • suggesting possible titles;

  • overseeing the production of publications;

  • reviewing book proposals and deciding whether to buy the publication rights;


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