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The main responsibility of publishers is to decide what books to publish. An author may submit a manuscript or may be commissioned to write a book and then the manuscripts are submitted to the publisher. When an author submits a manuscript the publisher has to make a decision based on quality and suitability of the book for the company's publishing list.

Commissioning general books requires an ability to accurately assess trends in the reading market. Commissioning for educational publishing entails maintenance of regular contact with government or university departments, depending on the sector of education, to establish suitable subject areas in which to publish. Once a reading trend or subject area has been identified, the publisher needs to find suitable authors to write manuscripts and negotiate publishing contracts with them.

When a book is accepted for publication it is subjected to a process of editing, design, production and marketing. In medium to large sized publishing houses specialized personnel often control each of these processes. The publisher needs, however, to keep in touch throughout the process as budgets, deadlines, publicity and special editorial agreements are ultimately his / her responsibility.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with people
- influencing and entertaining the public through printed works
- reading the variety of different manuscripts submitted for publication

Demanding aspects
- having to check facts in non-fictional works
- publishing a book at a financial loss, as it does not sell.

A publisher should:
- be an avid reader;
- have a wide general knowledge;
- have a deep interest in all aspects of education, as an educational publisher;
- be able to coordinate financial arrangements and possess negotiation skills.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate

Compulsory Subjects: Languages
Recommended Subjects: None

No specific educational requirements

Skills are usually developed on the job and through in-house courses in the publishing industry. Several years' experience in the publishing industry, usually as an editor or in marketing and sales, is essential.

However, entry to this occupation may be improved if you have degree qualifications in journalism, communication, business studies, marketing or an area in humanities, such as English. These courses are offered at most universities.

The Publishing Training Project offers a range of short courses including:

- Publishing Overview
- Publishing Management
- Commissioning
- Editing
- Production Management
- Book Design

This type of work is specifically geared towards employment by a publishing house. The majority of publishers in this country either fall into the educational or general book category. There are, however, publishing houses that specialize in publishing for niche markets, for example, classical literature and books for children, religious and technical books.

The SA Publishers Association of South Africa
P O Box 106
Green Point, 8051
Tel: (021) 425-2721 Fax: (021) 421-3270