Writers and Authors
Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media.
What they do
Writers and authors develop content for various types of media, including advertisements; blogs; books; magazines; and movie, play, and television scripts.
Writers and authors typically do the following:
• Choose subjects that interests readers
• Write fiction or nonfiction scripts, biographies, and other formats
• Conduct research to get factual information and authentic detail
• Write advertising copy for newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
• Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
• Work with editors and clients to shape material for publishing
Writers must establish their credibility with editors and readers through clean prose, strong research, and the use of sources and citations. Writers and authors select the material they want to use and then convey the information to readers. With help from editors, they may revise or rewrite sections, searching for the clearest language and phrasing.
Some writers and authors are self-employed or freelancers. They sell their written content to book and magazine publishers; news organizations; advertising agencies; and movie, theater, and television producers. They may be hired to complete specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing a newspaper column, contributing to a series of articles in a magazine, or producing an organization’s newsletter.
A number of writers produce material that is published only online, such as for digital news organizations or blogs.
Writers and authors may work anywhere they have access to a computer.
Jobs are somewhat concentrated in major media and entertainment markets—California, New York, Texas, and Washington, DC—but improved communications and Internet capabilities allow writers and authors to work from almost anywhere. Some writers and authors prefer to work and travel to meet with publishers and clients and to do research or conduct interviews in person.
How to become a Writer or Author
A college degree in English, communications, or journalism is generally required for a salaried position as a writer or author. Experience gained through internships or any writing that improves skill, such as blogging, is beneficial.
A bachelor’s degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates who have a degree in English, communications, or journalism.
Writers and authors can get job experience by working for high school and college newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. College theater programs offer playwrights an opportunity to have their work performed. Many magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain related experience.
Employers may prefer candidates who are able to create a visual story using tables, charts, infographics, and maps. Knowledge of computer software and editing tools that combine text with graphics, audio, video, and animation may be helpful.
The median annual wage for writers and authors was $63,200 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $122,450.
Employment of writers and authors is projected to decline 2 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Many news outlets, including digital outlets, are downsizing, offering fewer opportunities for writers and authors. Additionally, employment of writers and authors in newspaper, book, periodical, and directory publishers is expected to decline as the industry consolidates and shrinks and as more people access the information they need online.
Strong competition is expected for most job openings, given that many people are attracted to this occupation. Competition for jobs with newspapers and magazines will be particularly strong because employment in the publishing industry is projected to decline.
Similar Job Titles
Author, Book Author, Children's Book Author, Creative Writer, Fiction and Nonfiction Author, Freelance Writer, Lyricist, Novelist, Poet, Songwriter, Account Executive, Advertising Associate, Advertising Copy Writer, Advertising Writer, Communications Specialist, Copy Writer, Copywriter, Freelance Copywriter, Production Director, Web Content Writer, Copy Editor, Content Editor
Market Research Analyst and Marketing Specialist, Broadcast News Analyst, Public Relations Specialist, Advertising Sales Agent, Insurance Sales Agent, Reporter and Correspondent
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
• Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
• Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
• The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
• The Authors Guild
• The Recording Academy
• The Society of Composers and Lyricists
• Writers Guild of America East
• Writers Guild of America West
• Boating Writers International
• Circulo Creativo
Magazines and Publications
The Writers and Readers Magazine
Poets and Writers Magazine
The Magazine for Writers
Southern Writers Magazine
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When a nineteenth century British author wrote “the pen is mightier than the sword,” he was referring to the tremendous power of words used skillfully by writers and authors. Writers use their language skills to produce content for an audience. They compose books, movie screenplays, magazine articles, and web content. Writers need creativity to come up with ideas, critical thinking skills to convey their concepts clearly, and persuasively, when needed, and adaptability to understand their audience’s perspectives. The work of different types of writers varies significantly: creative writers like novelists, songwriters, poets, and playwrights are generally self-employed, and may labor for months or years before getting published, while technical writers and copywriters often work 9-to-5 jobs with a clear career path. Copywriters work on ad campaigns, and technical writers prepare instruction manuals and how-to guides. Using specialized skills, often learned on the job, they simplify complex ideas for the public, or write highly-technical material for a specific professional audience. Writers and authors often work in offices, but may work from any location with Internet access. Most writers have a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English, and lots of writing practice. Aspiring writers who want to enter the field often gain experience from internships, blogging about their personal interests, writing for school publications, small businesses or non-profits, or local news organizations.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org