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Writing, Editing, and Publishing

Leanna Davidson enjoys the fall weather as she studies outside
Explore Career Options
A writing career can take you in many directions, and an English degree will help you explore these options. While you have many career choices as a writer, there are three key areas you might consider: professional writing, creative writing, editing/publishing.

Each of these areas have broad ranges of possible careers. Learn more below by reading the provided information to help you decide which key focus will help you in your future profession.
Why Professional Writing?
Professional writers help their readers do something: complete a task, make a decision, or change their opinion. More than just writing manuals or reports, professional writers work in almost every field. To get you started thinking about life as a professional writer, here are a few areas where you might work to improve your vision.
What Can I Do Now for a Professional Writing Career?
Professional Writing Careers
What Can I Do Now for a Professional Writing Career?
Professional Writing Careers
What Can I Do Now for a Professional Writing Career?
Professional Writing Careers

What Can I Do Now for a Professional Writing Career?

Studnets participate in the Writing Workshop to receive crtiques on their work.

Graduation may seem far off, but start preparing now for your dream job. While at school, focus on these steps:

Courses

Check out our advising page for recommended courses that will help you in your goals.

When choosing classes, think about how your electives can help you with your career goals. You might choose to build your software skills. Learn more about graphic design and how to build a website. Take classes in a specific content area. Want to be a medical writer? Take biology or exercise science courses. Going to write for the Smithsonian? Take history and anthropology courses. Use the SmartElect program at BYU-Idaho to help you plan an effective strategy for your career goals.

Internships

Learn how an internship can build your experience, introduce you to employers, and build your writing portfolio.

While any job will pay the bills, try for a job that relates to your career goals. Here are some of the great work experiences that English majors have had while completing their degrees at BYU-Idaho. Each position built their experience and skill as professional writers:

  • Academic Communications Writer - University Relations
  • Student supervisor and writer - Human Resources
  • Web Content Curator - University Relations
  • Marketing Coordinator - Academic Support Centers
  • Student Project Manager - Online Curriculum Development

Work Experience

Check out the student employment website for a job that will pay the bills now and build your future, but don't forget networking. Talk to your classmates and teachers. They might know about job openings that haven't been posted yet.

Portfolio

An online portfolio is a must for a professional writer. After you complete a course, pull out the best writing sample and add to your online portfolio. Spending a little time at the end of each semester is much easier than putting together an online portfolio while you are on the job search.

Learn more about online portfolios through research. Here are few recommended sites:

Interested in seeing more examples of online portfolios? Check out networking sites such as LinkedIn. You'll find great examples of professional portfolios. Try searching for BYU-Idaho English major alumni and see how they are using their degrees.

Professional Writing Careers

Which aspect of professional writing appeals to you most? Here are the broad categories of professional writing where you might focus your career.

Technical Writing

According to the Society for Technical Communication, technical writing falls into three categories:

  1. Writing about technical fields such as science or medicine.
  2. Using technology such as websites or social media to communicate with an audience.
  3. Helping a user complete a process or task. 

Okay, that sounds boring, but technical writing is so much more. Technical writers help readers by writing clear, accurate, and effective documentation.
Learn more about technical writing. Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which tells you what you'll do as a tech writer, how much you'll make, and how to become one.

One of the best ways to learn more about technical writing is to check out the top tech writing blogs. Tom Johnson's I'd Rather Be Writing was listed as one of the top 25 most influential tech writing blogs. (And he's been a speaker at our Pre-Professional Conference.) Check out his advice for beginners.

The professional world needs empathetic English majors, and it especially needs disciple-leaders making decisions. Matt Hall, Copywriter and Content Strategist BYUI-Idaho English Graduate

Copywriting

Copywriters use their writing skills to persuade others to buy or use a specific product. Once considered advertising, jobs in copywriting are now found wherever there's an internet connection, and copywriters are some of the best-paid professional writers around.

Want to learn more? Here's a short video that answers the question "What is Copywriting?" Also, check out some of the many copywriting blogs out there, such as Copyblogger.com and 7 of the Best Blogs for Learning Copywriting.

Instructional Writing and Design

Have you ever watched a YouTube video to learn how to fix your phone or solve a problem? What about WikiAnswers? E-learning and instructional design is an explosive career for writers. Develop scripts for instructional videos. Edit textbooks. Build educational websites. These are all part of the e-learning process.

Learn more about e-learning and instructional design. Check out the InstructionalDesign.org website or Instructional Design Central.

Creative Writing
Creative writing offers rewards far more certain than royalty checks and best seller lists.
What Can I Do Right Now?
How Do I Get Published?
How Do I Earn a Living?
What Can I Do Right Now?
How Do I Get Published?
How Do I Earn a Living?
What Can I Do Right Now?
How Do I Get Published?
How Do I Earn a Living?

What Can I Do Right Now?

Cindy Davis studying in the Gardens

Don't wait until graduation to start your career as a creative writer. BYU-Idaho provides many opportunities for you to share and improve your writing.

Conferences

Present your creative works at the various conferences supported by BYU-Idaho:

Get published now.

  • Write for the Scroll, BYU-Idaho's student newspaper. 
  • Submit to Outlet, the BYU-Idaho Art and Literary Journal. 
  • Submit to other publications that support student work. Online Journals such as Juxtaprose, started by graduates of the English program, is a great place to start. 

Writing Groups

Get feedback on your writing. Start a writing group where you can read and evaluate each other's writing. Attend the Student Writing Retreat, an off-campus writing workshop lead by English Department faculty.

Readings

Every semester the BYU-Idaho English Department hosts literary readings where creative writers share their recent works and answer your questions. Past readings include Pulitzer Prize winning author Stephen Dunn and Anthony Doerr. See the Event Calendar for upcoming readings.

Classes

Take classes that enrich your writing skills and your content knowledge. Check out the advising page for recommended courses. Check out the advising page for recommended courses. Also, use your elective credits to support your writing goals. Want to write children's literature? Take a children's literature class, and a child development course might be valuable too.

How Do I Get Published?

When you consider getting published, you should look at three options.

  1. A standalone work (e.g., a novel, a collection of poetry, a screenplay).
  2. A short entry in a magazine or journal.
  3. A work in an anthology.

To start a making a name for yourself, consider options 2 and 3 as a starting point. Find magazines and journals that best fit your literary genre and style. Research their publication guidelines. Join a writers' group and get feedback from other writers. Research how to write an excellent submission letter. Make sure that you submit your very best work.
As you enter the publishing world, do your research. Read blogs, read trade magazines, and most of all read excellent literature of all genres.

Join online communities to let you know more about the world of publishing. This list just illustrates a few of online sources out there:

Better yet. Contribute to an online magazine created by graduates from BYU-Idaho's English Department. Juxtaprose began as passionate BYU-Idaho English majors sought opportunities to share great literature.

How Do I Earn a Living?

Creative writers work in a variety of fields. Until you become the next Brandon Sanderson or Anthony Doerr, you might consider a field that values your skills at narrative, concrete language, and creativity. A documentation supervisor at Microsoft once said, "I'd hire a poet any day. They understand imagery, brevity, and punctuation."

Creative writers make excellent copywriters, web content writers, and journalists. You understand that the story, more than information, engages readers. Learn more about professional writing career opportunities.

Editing and Publishing
Editors work in a variety of fields. You might be a content editor for a textbook publishing firm (think Pearson or Norton). You could work for a local publishing house or a large company.
What Can I Do Now?
Editing Careers
What Can I Do Now?
Editing Careers
What Can I Do Now?
Editing Careers

What Can I Do Now?

Ericka Sanders reads a book.

Graduation may be far off, but start preparing now.

Courses

Check out our advising page for recommended courses that will help you in this goal. Also, think about how your electives can help. Build your software skills. Learn more about graphic design and how to build a website. Why? Editors sometimes wear other hats, and you will be more marketable if you have more skills than just killer grammar. Journalism courses can introduce you to other editing fields.

Take classes in a specific content area. Going to edit for the Smithsonian? Take history and anthropology courses. Contact the Career and Academic Advising Office to help you plan an effective strategy for your career goals.

Internships

Learn how an internship can build your experience, introduce you to employers, and build your writing portfolio. Many students work for The Scroll as part of their internship.

Work Experience

While any job will pay the bills, try for a job that relates to your career goals. Here are some of the great editing experiences that English majors have had while completing their degrees at BYU-Idaho:

  • Editor of Chemistry Education Article - Chemistry Department
  • Content and copy editor - English Department Faculty
  • Be an editor for Outlet, the BYU-Idaho Art and Literary Journal

Learn more about editing and publishing. Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which tells you what you'll do as an editor, how much you'll make, and how to become one.

Also, check out other resources such as Bookjobs.com or the American Society for Magazine Editors. These sites will spotlight the key skills you need in the publishing industry, as well as advertise internships and employment opportunities.

Editing Careers

Wherever there are words, there should be an editor. While you can work in almost any field, here are the primary areas for professional editors:

Creative Publications

Harry Potter was rejected numerous times before an editor saw the magic. T.S. Eliot, famous British author and editor, rejected George Orwell's Animal Farm. Sometimes editors get it wrong, but usually editors are both writers' and readers' best friends, as they help find the brilliant story within a manuscript. As a creative writing editor, you could work with small publishing houses such as Dreaming Big Publications, publishing houses that target specific markets such as Shadow Mountain, and the large publishers such as Random House.

Academic Publishing

How many textbooks have you read throughout your education? Someone edited each of these publications. Additionally, online materials are produced for every textbook. Get involved with the fascinating field of academic publishing. Check out publishers such as Pearson for great opportunities. Many universities publish manuscripts and other materials. An editor at a university press could focus on acquisitions, production assistants, copyeditors, and proofers. Look at university job postings for a start with a university press.

Journalism

The field of journalism is a great place for editors, particularly with new digital editions of magazines, newspapers, and social media appearing daily.