The coronavirus pandemic, which started in late 2019, has affected most industries to varying degrees, including the writing and editing industry. Writers and editors who normally worked remotely may have experienced little change in work environment, however, full-time employees who worked in offices had to transition to telework. Business shutdowns and social distancing requirements meant that many meetings, pitches, classes, and all other in-person activities were conducted online. The economic slowdown caused by the pandemic also reduced publishing companies' budgets, which in turn led to budget cuts and staff layoffs. For example, the U.S. book publishing industry was projected to have a decline of 2.3 percent from 2015 through 2020 because of the pandemic. The market research group IBISWorld reported that the "forced closures of nonessential businesses [were] expected to put some smaller operators out of business for good."
The accelerated distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 will help the economy to rebound as businesses reopen and employment grows. The book publishing industry will continue to struggle in the coming years, however, although e-book sales are projected to resume growth, which could help sustain profit. Moving forward, more publishing companies will be focusing on the digital library market and reselling channels.
Post pandemic, writers and editors with Web and multimedia experience will have the best odds of finding work in the coming years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The outlook for other fields is not as promising, however. Overall, employment of writers and authors will show little or no change through 2028. Editors are expected to experience 3 percent decline in employment, with traditional editing jobs in print newspapers and magazines continuing to disappear. Offsetting this decline, however, will be the slight growth of editing opportunities with online media. Technical writers are expected to have the best job prospects, with faster than average employment growth (8 percent) projected for them through 2028.
Writing and editing opportunities in academia and the literary arts are also expected to stay as competitive and challenging as always. Academic writers are usually not paid by academic journals. The motivation to work in this arena is the prestige of being published in a well-known journal in the field. In a survey of academic writers conducted by the National Writers Union (NWU), almost 50 percent of academic writers stated that they made less than $2,000 per year for their writing. Most poets and fiction writers will also continue to face the challenges of being published. Some publishing companies prefer to see manuscripts from writers who have literary agents. Self-publishing, such as through vanity houses, continues to become a more attractive alternative for many writers, although it is not yet widely accepted as a legitimate channel among the traditional publishing industry.
Writers and editors are interested in sharing stories, educating or entertaining readers, and making sure what's written is accurate and clear. People write literary works because they love the act of creating. Unless they hold full-time jobs, many writers and editors must find other ways to make a living. Even famous literary writers teach at universities, teach writing workshops, and sometimes publish nonliterary work such as commercial magazine articles in order to pay their bills and support their families. Juggling the work to make ends meet can be challenging, but for many, it's well worth it.