Literary & Communicators

Authors write the text for books, magazines, web sites and social media. The work can be highly satisfying as you will see your work in print or published on websites. Many authors find it difficult to make a living from writing alone so they often take on other types of work to make a living.

Work Activities

Authors produce written work for publication in printed formats such as books or magazines. They also write articles for online publication such as blogs or website pages. The work may involve producing original pieces using their creativity or rewriting and updating existing articles.

Authors are often required to carry out extensive research before they write new work for publication. This can involve using resources such as the Internet or libraries.

Authors may specialise in various types of subjects such as scientific or technical writing. Other areas can include cookery, travel, health, politics or current affairs and leisure time pursuits. A smaller number of authors write works of fiction such as novels, plays and poetry.

Typical job responsibilities include:

  • Researching subjects in preparation for producing copy or articles
  • Writing, drafting and editing text with a view to publication
  • Developing a specialism in a specific subject or area of interest
  • Keeping up to date with developments in publishing and technology
  • Networking with agents, fellow authors and publishers.

The majority of authors are self-employed and write alone. Making a living in this way can be challenging. Most of the time authors are carrying out research or writing whilst sitting at a computer for long periods. The flow of work can be inconsistent as you will be working on a freelance basis. As the work is mainly project-based it is important to adhere rigidly to deadlines.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for authors

  • Excellent command of English
  • A good imagination and a creative approach
  • Strong communication skills
  • Be able to cope with lone working
  • Business and commercial skills as you are likely to be self-employed
  • Able to handle criticism and rejection from publishers
  • IT skills.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of authors

The majority of authors are self-employed and work from home.

Most authors submit their work for consideration to publishers who may or may not accept it. This may range from works of fiction to more specific, technical writing.

Some authors share their work with amateur dramatic groups or writers' circles who may publish it on the Internet.

There are opportunities for authors to self-publish their work on the Internet which is becoming more popular. This enables authors to reach a wider audience and demonstrate their initiative and motivation to potential publishers.


Qualifications and training required

You are not required to have any specific qualifications but many authors have a degree in a creative or arts-based subject such as English literature. Degree and postgraduate qualifications are available in creative writing as well as short courses to improve your writing skills.

Entering competitions for new authors or becoming a member of a group such as the Writers' Guild of Great Britain will help you to network and to break into the profession. Talent and luck are as important as academic ability.

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