What you need to know
Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs.
Writers and authors work in an office, at home, or anywhere they have access to a computer. About 2 in 3 writers and authors were self-employed in 2016.
Some of the things an author and writer might do:
- Choose subject matter that interests readers
- Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, biographies, and more
- Conduct research to obtain 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 the material so it can be published
- Adaptability: Writers and authors need to be able to adapt to newer software platforms and programs, including various content management systems (CMS).
- Creativity: Writers and authors must be able to develop new and interesting plots, characters, or ideas so they can come up with new stories.
- Critical-thinking skills: Writers and authors must have dual expertise in thinking through or understanding new concepts, and conveying it through writing.
- Determination: Writers and authors sometimes work on projects that take years to complete. They must demonstrate perseverance and personal drive to meet deadlines.
- Persuasion: Writers, especially those in advertising, must be able to persuade others to feel a certain way about a good or service.
- Social perceptiveness: Writers and authors must understand how readers react to certain ideas in order to connect with their audience.
- Writing skills: Writers and authors must be able to write clearly and effectively in order to convey feeling and emotion and communicate with readers.
The average pay for authors and writers in the United States ranges from $31,700 to $121,670 as of May 2018.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of writers and authors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Online publications and services are growing in number and sophistication, spurring demand for writers and authors with Web and multimedia experience.
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 with a degree in English, journalism, or communications.
Writers can obtain 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 general publishing experience.