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Literature & Publishing

A 2015 Creative Scotland review recognised that the scope of the writing and publishing sector has widened in recent years.

That’s reflected in the Scottish Government categories for reporting on sector performance. Those include creative, commercial or technical writers, journalists and news agencies, and digital and print publishers of books, newspapers, periodicals, journals and magazines.

The big picture  

There were around 1,100 writing or publishing companies operating in Scotland at the end of 2016. All but 30 were registered here. Of the rest, 20 were UK-registered and ten were owned abroad. Around 40% were companies with zero employees, while about half are small companies, with up to 49 employees. In fact, 60% of the small companies employed fewer than five people.  

Around 9,500 people work in writing and publishing in Scotland — that’s about 12% of everyone working in the creative industries. Between them, they’re turning over almost £880 million every year.  

Working in literature and publishing 

Digital publishing has opened up opportunities for all kinds of writers — bloggers and vloggers, web content creators and copywriters and self-publishing authors. It has also created the need for content managers and editors, platform developers and people who can keep up with the technology. 

On the ‘traditional’ side there’s creative, commercial and technical writers, editors, editorial assistants, journalists and technical authors. There are also roles in photography, illustration, design and art direction, typesetting, print and production, sales and marketing and protection of legal rights. If you have more than one language, you could also consider translation as a career. 

Specific skills shortages include distribution, sales and marketing, art and design, technical development and production. There’s been a decline in editors, journalists and sports writers, and there are significant gaps in technical skills and the ability to use software, as well as leadership, management and general business. 

Developing your skills 

Compared to other sectors, there’s a relatively low percentage of people in writing and publishing educated to degree level. That gives it more scope for developing vocational skills that will help progress your career.  

Publishing Scotland is the network, trade and development body for the publishing sector in Scotland. It offers training and development in copywriting, editing and proofreading, and has a useful directory of relevant training programmes from other institutions. 

The Professional Publishers Association partners with selected companies to provide training focused on specific skills, like journalism, digital and magazine publishing, sales and marketing, conferences and events and copywriting. 

Funding and support 

The Scottish Book Trust is a national charity that promotes the importance of books, reading and writing in society. Among other support programmes, it operated the New Writers Awards, which offer a £2,000 cash award to writers of fiction and narrative non-fiction, poetry and children’s and young adult fiction in English and Scots. 

The Go-Digital Fund is operated by Publishing Scotland, with funding from Creative Scotland. It aims to help Scottish-based book publishers bring their work to a digital audience. And the Society of Authors administers a number of grants for writers, which both help to fund works in progress and support authors experiencing financial difficulties.

If you’d like to know more

Find out more about the sector: 

Creative Scotland 

Creative Skillset 

Publishing Scotland 

Find out more about funding: 

Scottish Book Trust 

Publishing Scotland funding information 

Society of Authors 

Looking for sound advice and/or a sounding board?

Contact us to organise a meeting with one of our experienced and friendly creative industry advisors.