How COVID-19 will affect the publishing industry

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted how writers write, what editors want to publish, and how books are sold.


Meanwhile, for freelance writers

Seasoned freelancers are accustomed to periods of feast and famine. Right now, freelance writers seem split between the two.

Those who work for consumer publications have seen work dry up, with several publications shutting down and others no longer taking writers’ queries. One writer said a travel magazine he has contributed to for two decades suspended publishing without paying him and other writers for the latest issue. The adult education writing classes he teaches were also canceled due to quarantine.

Meanwhile, writers who provide content marketing or write about science, like Deborah D. Stine Ph.D., have seen demand for their work skyrocket. “Since I work in science and technology, I’m getting more interest in my writing for the public in the short term,” Stine says. “Right now [early April], I’m doing a COVID-19 piece and/or pitch just about every day for different venues.”

Dan Gerstein is CEO of Gotham Ghostwriters, an agency providing writers for authors and speakers. “There seems to be a wide range of pain,” he notes. “Some writers are as busy as ever – those tend to be elite book writers and other writers for hire who have strong referral pipelines and who specialize in high-demand/low-supply fields like technology, finance, and health care.

“The writers who seem hardest hit are the middle of the roaders who rely mostly on corporate clients,” Gerstein says. “It seems many CMOs and CCOs are cutting or totally freezing their comms/marketing spending until we get back to par.”

—Toni Fitzgerald is the copy editor at The Writer. She’d love to hear your pandemic writing stories. Connect with her at

Originally Published