Advanced Certificate in Publishing

Study publishing via online learning. A comprehensive qualification in media studies with a focus on publishing. Use skills learnt to publish online or gain employment in the publishing industry. Can be applied to different types of writing.

Course CodeVWR021
Fee CodeAC
Duration (approx)900 hours
QualificationAdvanced Certificate

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Open Doors into Publishing

Learn the core skills needed in publishing whether traditional publishing or publishing online.

Add other relevant skills with this advanced training course. Learn what it takes to get a start in this broad and vastly interesting field.    

Choose some modules that suit your specific goals and learning needs.

Learn about media opportunities in publishing with a view to becoming:

  • Publishing manager

  • Publishing assistant

  • Web developer

  • Marketing manager

  • Production manager

  • Or use what you learn for other similar roles

Many university publishing graduates end up never being able to secure a successful career in publishing. There are many reasons for this.

You are better to investigate and understand these issues BEFORE STARTING a course; rather than being surprised after completing a study program.

ACS tutors are well published and successful professionals with current industry experience. Study here for an education with a strong dose of both reality and opportunity.



Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Publishing.
 Editing I (Editing and Proofreading) BWR106
 Publishing I BWR107
 Graphic Design BIT205
 Publishing II BWR202
 Publishing III BWR303
Stream ModulesStudied after the core modules, stream modules cover more specific or niche subjects.
 Industry Project I BIP000
 Research Project I BGN102
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 28 modules.
 Children's Writing BWR104
 Creative Writing BWR103
 Dramatic Writing BWR110
 E Commerce BIT100
 Freelance Writing BWR102
 Html (Writing a Website) VIT102
 Introduction To Photography BPH100
 Office Practices VBS102
 Photographic Practice BPH101
 Workplace Health & Safety VBS103
 Workshop I BGN103
 Writing Fiction BWR105
 Advanced Freelance Writing BWR201
 Advertising and Promotions BBS202
 Biographical Writing BWR205
 Digital Photography BPH202
 Ethics BPS217
 Information Security BIT203
 Internet Marketing BIT204
 Journalism Practice I BWR203
 Photographic Technology BPH201
 Photoshop CS - Beginner To Medium Level VIT202
 Project Management BBS201
 Research Project II BGN201
 Research Project III BGN202
 Workshop II BGN203
 Editing II BWR302
 Technical Writing (Advanced) BWR301

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Publishing is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Contents of Selected Modules

Freelance Writing

There are ten lessons:

1. Introduction to freelancing
2. Basic writing skills
3. The publishing world
4. Manuscripts
5. Planning what you write
6. Newspaper writing
7. Magazine writing
8. Writing books
9. Writing advertising
10. Special project


Advanced Freelance Writing

The course is divided into 8 lessons as follows:

1. Introduction. Writing Themes, Sentence Structure, Summary Skills, Theme Development (eg. Deductive, Inductive, Classic, Chronological, Descriptive, Analogy, Cause & Effect, Classification, Definition Analysis, Comparison & Contrast, Flashback etc)
2. Writing a Regular Column Newsletters, News Columns, Criticism Journalism (eg Theater Critics, Book Reviews, Film Reviews, etc)
3. Educational Writing Interviewing Skills, Illustrating an article, Putting it all together.
4. Scientific Writing Technical Writing, Statistics
5. Writing a Biographical Story Developing a draft plan, Research, Writing the final manuscript
6. Writing a News Article Analysing a news article; writing and illustrating a sporting event
7. Fiction Writing Category Writing; Mainstream Writing; Characteristics of good fiction (ie. A strong plot;. A hero or heroine; Obvious motivation; Plenty of action; A colourful background), Forming and developing an idea.
8. Other Writing TV & Radio Scripts, Science Fiction, Conducting a Survey; Developing a Story.


Creative Writing

The ten lessons are as outlined below:

1. Introduction
2. Basic Writing Skills
3. Being Concise and Clear
4. Planning what you write
5. Fiction
6. Non Fiction
7. Newspaper Writing
8. Magazine Writing
9. Writing Books
10. Special Project


Children’s Writing

There are ten lessons in this unit, as follows:

1. Introduction: Understanding Children, their thoughts, needs, development.
2. Overview of Children’s Writing: Categories (fiction & non fiction), understanding the market place; analyse & understand what is needed for the different categories, etc.
3. Conceptualisation: Conceiving a concept…where & how to find inspiration/influence. Developing a concept … how to plan.
4. Children’s Writing for Periodicals: Children’s pages in magazines, newspapers, etc.
5. Short Stories
6. Non-Fiction: Texts (writing to satisfy curriculum. Other (eg. nature, history, biography, hobbies).
7. Fiction: settings, characterisation, fantasy, science fiction, adventure.
8. Picture Books and Story Books
9. Editing your work: Grammar, spelling & punctuation. Improving clarity. Cleaning out clutter; expansions.
10. Project - write a short story, picture book or kids page for a (hypothetical) periodical.


Technical Writing

There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

1. Scope and Nature of Technical Writing
2. Presentation
3. Matching style and content to the audience
4. Planning: Developing a Logical Structure or Format
5. Collaborative Writing
6. Writing Technical Periodicals
7. Writing Manuals and Procedures
8. Writing Project Proposals
9. Writing Project Reports.


Fiction Writing

There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

1. Scope & Nature of Fiction
2. Components of a Story – beginning, middle and end
3. Technique…The Creative Process – conception, developing a plot, Writing a Draft, Editing and rewriting; Method Writing
4. Conception and Research
5. Drama
6. Fantasy
7. The Short Story
8. The Novel


Publishing l

1. The content of each of the ten lessons is as outlined below:
2. The Publishing World Nature & scope of publishing, types of publishers, how books are published, market research
3. Publishing Procedures & Techniques Colour or black & white; film or digital imaging, types of printing, alternative ways of doing layout (eg. typesetting, paste up, electronic layout with Adobe products or MS publisher), comparing types of digital graphic files, printing costs, etc.
4. Desktop Publishing Word Processing, Alternative publishing methods: Printing on a Computer Printer; Supplying a "Master" to a commercial printer, or publishing electronically (eg. Internet or CD)
5. Desktop Publishing Software options, use of colour, black and white, use of graphics, putting it together, etc.
6. Illustration: Graphics Line illustrations, cartoons, photos etc. Freehand work, Computer graphics, etc.
7. Illustration: Photography Photographic Equipment & Materials; Composition; Development of Photographic Style Portraiture, Posing for Photographs, Planning a Photo Session, Studio Photography, Fault Finding, etc.
8. Researching Types of Research (Exploratory, Experimental etc), Primary & Secondary Data sources, Planning a survey, Conducting an interview.
9. Marketing in Publishing Understanding marketing & publicity –what makes a publication succeed or fail, launches, press releases, etc.
10. Publishing: Ethics & The Law Public attitudes, accuracy of writing, bias, monopolies, media ownership concerns, etc.
11. Publishing Project Here you actually publish something.


Publishing ll

There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

1. The Publishing Process
2. Law and the Media
3. Ethics & Morality
4. Production Systems I –from writing to printing
5. Production Systems II
6. Layout for Print Media
7. Media Advertising
8. Marketing and Distribution Systems –Print & Electronic Media


Publishing lll

There are seven lessons as follows:

1. What to publish? – Deciding what and how to publish: market analysis, sponsorship, advertising, reader demand, industry support, distribution channels
2. Planning a New Publication
3. Costing a New Publication
4. Resource Management – Managing physical, human and intellectual resources
5. Risk Management – Legal considerations, insurance, staff well being
6. Managing Writers
7. Managing Production & Distribution – Cost, timing, quality control, accuracy


Practical Journalism I

This module gives you hands-on experience in writing for our online student magazine( . You work with a mentor (member of our academic staff) who will oversee your role as writer for an online publication, for one edition of that publication.
With so many would-be writers around, publishers can afford to be very choosy. Most will only accept work from writers who have already been published, but getting that first work published can be a daunting and difficult task. Many very good writers just never get published at all.
This module provides our students with just what they need: an opportunity to get work published. On graduation, you will have at least one work published (maybe more) in a publication that you can show to potential employers, which will increase your chances of being employed or published in future.
This course takes you through the processes of writing for a specific publication, submitting work for publication, and meeting the requirements of an editor and publisher.


Photographic Practice

There are 8 lessons as follows:

1. Composition
2. Photographing People
3. Nature & Landscape Photography
4. Colour vs. black & white
5. Special Techniques
6. Illustrative Photography
7. Publishing Photos
8. Business Opportunities in Photography


Writing a Website (HTML)

There are 8 lessons as follows:

1. Getting Started
2. Page Layout
3. Navigation
4. Images and Page Weights
5. Colour and Style
6. Designing a Web Site
7. Building and Testing a Web Site
8. FTP

Project Management

There are nine lessons as follows:

1. Introduction
Understanding what project management is, and what its applications might be.
2. Project Identification
Identification and defining projects which need management.
3. Project Planning
Developing a strategy and framework for the plan.
4. Project Implementation
Managers duties during implementation, developing a Preparation Control Chart,
Regulating implementation.
5. Project Completion & Evaluation
Dangers in this stage, Steps in Project completion, Declaring a project sustainable,
Developing an evaluation method.
6. Technical Project Management Skills
Preparing a proposal, budget control/management, steps in drawing up a
post project appraisal.
7. Leadership Skills
Styles of leadership, leadership principles and methods.
8. Improving Key Personnel Skills
Listening skills, Negotiation skills, Conflict management.
9. Major Assignment
Developing full documentation for a project.


Advertising and Promotions

The content the ten lessons is as outlined below:

1. Analysing the Market
2. Target Marketing
3. Display and Display Techniques
4. Advertising and Promotions Strategy
5. New Product Development
6. Sales Techniques - General
7. Writing Advertisement
8. Electronic Marketing -Telephone & Email
9. Direct Mailing
10. Exhibitions & Shows


Digital Photography

This course is divided into eleven lessons as follows:

1. Introduction To Digital Technology
How images are captured and stored, categories of equipment & software, scope of applications
2. Equipment -getting started; deciding what you need
CCD's, Image Sizes, Raster Images,, Video Cards, Colour depth, Computer terminology etc.
3. Digital Technology
Colour, resolution, sensors (how technology enables digital images to be captured).
4. Digital Cameras
Image formation, lenses, camera stability, one shot cameras, 3 shot cameras, terminology (eg.DPI, DVD, Bit, EDO RAM, Plug In etc)
5. Taking Photographs
Principles of Photo Composition, Creating effects, Default Setting, Compression of Data, Dithering, Halftones etc
6. Scanners
Techniques which can be used for digitally capturing images from film photographs, or graphics
7. Uploading Images
How digital images can be transferred effectively from a camera (or scanner) onto another device (eg. a computer, video monitor, television set, etc).
8. The Digital Darkroom
Techniques that can be used to process digital photographs within a computer to achieve improved or changed images
9. Composition & Imaging - Production & manipulation of images
How digital photos can be manipulated and changed to produce altered images
10. Special Effects
Scope and nature of special effects that can be created with digital photographs
11. Outputs & Applications- Printers, The Internet
How and where digital photography can effectively be used.


E Commerce

There are eight lessons in this module as follows:

1. Introduction: What is e-commerce, scope of e commerce. E commerce problems & advantages, security, using the internet, contract law, How different electronic payment systems work (eg. credit card, bank transfer etc)
2. Success & Failure: What makes a web site commercially successful? Relaxing with technology, what can go wrong, site visibility, interactivity of a site, etc
3. Promotional Strategies: Internet differences; Internet code of conduct, marketing management, target marketing, categories of url’s (search engines, ffa’s, directories etc)
4. Optimizing Web Site Potential: Monitoring visitors, Ground rules keep changing, Meta tags, Evaluation services, Submission services, etc
5. Increasing Web Site Exposure: Developing a marketing plan, Promoting a site, Forms of advertising, Types of Marketing (Affiliate marketing; Free Content Marketing; Drive in Marketing, Buzz Marketing and User Group Marketing.)
6. Automating Supply of Goods, Services and Cash flow: Ways to process payment; Ways to supply goods or services.
7. Managing Constant Change: Ways to keep information up to date, Resource Planning, Information Currency vs Cash Currency, etc.
8. Dealing with E Commerce Problems: Learning from mistakes (others & yours)


Workplace Health and Safety

Learning to recognise potentially dangerous situations can mean the avoidance of litigation, work disruption, and significant, unnecessary costs. Make sure that an accident that could have been avoided is not the reason your business fails.
This course was developed by highly qualified professionals, who have years of experience in industry.There are 7 lessons as follows:

1. Introduction
2. Legislation
3. Handling Chemicals
4. Handling Equipment
5. Handling Objects
6. Standards & Rules
7. Signs & Signals


Research Project 1

The course contains seven lessons:

1.  Determining Research Needs
2.  Searching for Information
3.  Research Methods
4.  Using Statistics
5.  Conducting Statistical Research
6.  Research Reports
7.  Reporting on a Research Project


Research Project 11

There are 7 lessons in this module as follows:
1. Identifying research issues and determining research priorities.
2. Acquisition of technical information
3. Specialised research techniques
4. Research planning and designing
5. Statistics
6. Conducting research
7. Writing reports


Research Project 111

There are five lessons in this module as follows:
1. Determining research priorities.
2. Planning research improvement
3. Testing the viability of alternative approaches
4. Conducting detailed research into commercial work procedures
5. Developing an improved approach to a workplace procedure

Plus 100 hours relevant industry meetings or work experience

Factors that influence the decision of what to publish

Some of the factors that a publisher might consider when deciding which proposal to act upon or which manuscript to accept are discussed below.

Genre or type of writing

Some questions that publishers ask when deciding what to publish are related to genre: What is the purpose of the publication …to entertain or inform? What is its subject? Is it:

  • fiction or non fiction?

  • written for adults or children?

  • popular or academic writing?

Within these broad categories are more specialised categories of writing or genres and their different sub-categories. For instance, under the genre “novel” are included historical novels, romance novels, westerns, fantasy novels, science fiction (sci-fi) novels etc. Some questions a publisher might need to answer when choosing what to publish are:  Is this genre relevant to our organisation? Is it consistent with our image and our overall goals? If it is, does this particular work meet our standards and criteria for that genre? If not, what are the risks and benefits of going outside our usual boundaries, and is this work worth the risks?

Most publishers are involved in several genres, especially as publishing becomes a multimedia industry. This kind of diversification can be quite profitable, as it spread the potential risks over a wider area. Eventually, most publishers will develop a list of publications consistent with their overall image and style. Other publishers will concentrate their resources on one genre, such as romance novels, text books, or news, meeting the needs of a particular niche market. Some may focus on quality publications, others on quantity, producing lots of low-quality, low-cost books, while some very large publishers may produce different kinds and qualities of publications.

Fortunately for the reading public and for many writers, publishers are often on the lookout for titles outside their usual repertoire that might have potential. Because one can never really predict what will succeed, and many best sellers were initially rejected by more conservative publishers, there are always publishers who are willing to take risks, though these may be shared with the author by making him or her bear part of the costs.

Publishers of news magazines or papers recognise different kinds of stories, some of which are understood and accepted as having greater news value than others at any one time. Some widely recognised news stories are:

 murder stories
weather stories
fire or disaster stories
accident stories,
international relations stories
government and politics stories
law and trial stories
business, industry stories
sports stories
investigative or analytical stories
entertainment and arts stories
science, education, knowledge stories
religion, spirituality, philosophy

(Source: Leiter, Harriss & Johnson, The Complete Reporter, Allyn and Bacon)

Reader interest and expectations

There is no single guideline for determining what is desirable content.
However, it can be very useful to examine general guidelines by which news publishers choose what is or is not newsworthy (worth publishing). While the criteria may be different, in many instances, the factors that make for newsworthy items may also help determine what makes a good novel or magazine article.

There is no agreed-upon definition of ‘news’, for what is news is determined by many factors, including:

  • The people who publish it

  • Social values and expectations concerning news

  • The political and economic environment

  • Information-gathering and reporting technology

  • Reader interest.

When deciding what is newsworthy, publishers look for articles that will take and hold readers’ interest, and stimulate some kind of dialogue or debate. Reader interest is said to be the main factor determining what news is published. However, there is some debate as to whether the media respond to reader interest, or create it.

News values
Factors that the news industry generally agrees stimulate reader interest are called news values. These include:

  • Conflict– riots, wars, violence, assaults etc that upset social order and arouse emotional responses;

  • Radical changes– progress, successes, developments, rapid or unexpected gains, or failures, disasters, sudden losses of wellbeing or fortune;

  • Consequence– the degree to which events or people affect us or a community, or the perceived importance of the effects;

  • Prominence– fame, infamy, popularity, influence, authority attached to a person, event or place;

  • Sex– private details of a sexual nature, exposes, romances, deviations etc, especially in regard to prominent people or groups;

  • Timeliness– current events are considered more newsworthy that previous or possible future events. For instance, events that provoke great public controversy one week may not be considered newsworthy a week later, though the issues have not been resolved;

  • Proximity– our geographical closeness to the events. For example, a strike in our small community might feature on the front page of our local newspaper, and not even get a mention in the nearest large city;

  • Novelty– anything that deviates (is different) from the norm: Siamese twins, multiple births, unusual practices etc.;

  • Human Interest– these are stories about individuals or communities that may not have any of the above factors, but appeal to our emotions or curiosity (elderly lady forced out of her home because of council fees; hospital for injured wild animals; community support for a burned-out family etc);

  • Special interest– any topic that interests or informs readers: animals, fashion, alternative health etc.

Many of these news values are also relevant to creative writing. Stories that feature a strong storyline will be more warmly received by a publisher than those that lack a good story line. Again, there is no general agreement on what makes a good story.
However, it is generally agreed that a basic storyline contains conflict (internal and between individuals or groups) and changes (developments, reversals, growth and resolution) that are seen to have consequence for the main character or characters. 

Good non-fiction can also contain a strong storyline, which the writer creates by careful  selection and organisation of information. In fact, in many ways, non-fiction writing such as biographies, auto-biographies, histories and news features can be considered as created as fiction writing. Publishers (or editors) select from the many bits of information what is to be included, what overall tone or mood will be developed, even what meanings are to be drawn from that information.

Perceived need
Based on market analysis and simply keeping attuned to what’s happening in publishing and society, publishers can often identify specific needs, such as the need for quality text books relevant to students in their own country, or self-help articles in magazines.  Learning the market - what is wanted, what is lacking – is essential to developing special or niche markets in response to need.

Cost and profit-making potential
In the end, most publishing decisions end here.  Even the most brilliant and exciting concept and most skilfull writing might not be sufficient to outweigh financial considerations. Every innovation, every branch into new areas by a publisher, every exciting project must be weighed against the publisher’s evaluation of the risks involved, the cost, and the continuing financial viability of the enterprise. 


To increase the likelihood of receiving acceptable (if not publishable) manuscripts, manuscript proposals, or magazine articles, many publishers provide guidelines for prospective authors. These may include what kind of manuscripts (genres) they are looking for, ideas, formatting and size requirements for submitted manuscripts, perhaps pay rates, and sometimes, even guidelines for writing suitable articles, stories or novels. These guidelines are not only helpful to prospective authors or freelance writers, but can help the publisher weed out unacceptable or inappropriate material in the search for publishable writing that is relevant to that organisation.


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Learn From Real World Publishers and Writers

Here at ACS we've been not only educators, but also actively involved in the world of publishing and writing for decades.
Our principal was writing for magazines and newspapers in the mid 70's and had his first book published in 1978. As an organisation, the school was regularly contributing to magazines in the mid 80's; and wrote and published it's first printed book in the late 1980's.  Our activity with publishing and writing has continued down through the years, and since 2012, we have operated ourt own publishing department, writing and publishing over 100 ebooks which are distributed internationally through Overdrive, Wheelers and others.

Where Might this Course Lead

The exciting thing about the publishing industry is that it is changing more rapidly than ever. For some, the rate of change has been unsettling; but for others it is an opportunity.

The reality of today's world is that more is being published than every before; only it isn't being published in the same way or in the same places that it was published before. Large publishers used to dominate the world of publishing, making it difficult for any newcomers to make a start, without patronage and employment from those dominant organisations. Many of those large publishers have shrunk in size though, and some medium size publishers have struggled to even survive. At the same time though; others who have been capable and aware of the evolution underway, have seized upon opportunities and made a huge success forging their own way forward.

Graduates of this course are groomed for this new world order; to connect and grow an awareness of shifts that are happening, at the same time as building their understanding of how to write, edit, publish and market any many or publication.

You will build your capacity to do the job; and also build your capacity to see and act on opportunities as they emerge now and in the future.


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Rachel Syers

Rachel has worked as a newspaper journalist for the past 15 years in a range of roles from sub-editor and social columnist to news reporter, covering rounds such as education, health, council, music, television, court, police, Aboriginal and Islander affa
Tracey Jones

Widely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience. Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Lear
Rosemary Davies

Businesswoman, Journalist, Editor, Broadcaster, Teacher, Consultant for over 30 years.
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