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Careers In Culture

Writing and Publishing - What You Need to Know

What's Happening Today

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Plenty of career opportunities

Multimedia Has Made It Big!

Multimedia means just that – mixing some or all of text, video, animation, sound, photography and illustration together in one interactive format. The result? A product with many different uses – how-to guides, training programs, educational tools, and games. If this is your area of interest, your existing writing skills can be put to good use, although you will likely have to acquire some specific education or new technical know-how along the way.

Every Day is Different

No book, brochure, play, song, DVD or website is identical. Each product presents different challenges. How can you best explain technical information in a software user's manual? What graphic design will best illustrate a website showcasing a city's tourist attractions? What's the best marketing strategy for a new textbook? People in writing and publishing careers say they really enjoy the creative challenges of their work. Do you like variety in your life? Are you adaptable and able to handle new situations? Then a career in writing and publishing might be a perfect fit for you.

The Dollars and Sense of Writing

What you can earn as a writer depends on your area of expertise. Playwrights, novelists and poets usually find the act of creativity very rewarding. However, only some may find an audience and succeed financially. Now that self-publishing has moved from the formerly disdained arena of “vanity press” publishing to a much more common alternative, the time has never been better to find an audience for your original work. Other types of communicators—those who work for businesses and governments in salaried positions or on contract -often work full-time. If you’re considering writing as a career, think about developing a variety of skills so that you can find opportunities in different fields of writing. Perhaps you can write plays or advertisements. Maybe you can be a novelist as well as a technical writer. Or you might publish other people’s work along with your own. The choice is up to you.

The Zine Scene

Did you know that magazine publishing is providing exciting new hands-on opportunities in Canada? People across the country are using their writing, desktop publishing and organizational skills to develop new zines for specialized audiences such as people who enjoy a certain type of music or want to follow a certain lifestyle. Some of the new magazine publishers are aiming to go national while others prefer circulating through the zine underground. Most zines are now published exclusively on the Internet as webzines. Want to establish your writing and publishing credentials? Then you might consider getting experience working on a zine.

Trivia challenge


Question 1: In 2001, _______ people in Canada worked as writers, editors, journalists, translators, interpreters and specialists in public relations and communications.

  1. 75,000
  2. 120,000
  3. 160,000

Question 2: Of all purchases made online by Canadian households in 2001, _____% was spent on books, newspapers or magazines.

  1. 5
  2. 16
  3. 27

Question 3: Individuals in writing and publishing _______.

  1. live an work primarily in urban areas
  2. are in every region of Canada
  3. are clustered in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver

Question 4: To find work, translators usually need _______.

  1. a college diploma
  2. a Bachelor's degree
  3. graduate-level studies

Question 5: Over ______% of writers have a graduate degree.

  1. 10
  2. 35
  3. 50

Question 6: Exports of Canadian books to other countries and sales of foreign publishing rights are ___________.

  1. going up
  2. going down
  3. staying the same


1. C
The correct answer is 160,000, and those account for only a small proportion of the number of people involved with products derived from words.

2. C
Books, newspapers or magazines, at 27%, making it the most prevalent type of online purchasing made by Canadian households in 2001.

3. B
The correct answer is B. If you're interested in a writing and publishing career, then you'll be able to work anywhere in Canada.

4. C
Translation is a highly skilled occupation requiring specialized training.

5. C
Those working as writers tend to be more highly educated than other Canadian workers.

6. A
Canadian publishers' international efforts are paying off. Canadian writers are recognized around the world, and book exports and sales of foreign publishing rights continue on a steady growth curve.