- Requires good knowledge of the English language, knowledge of media production and communication and excellent verbal communication skills
- With experience, progress to senior commissioning editor, editorial manager, director, or work as a freelance consultant
- Your work will involve travel to meet with clients, agents and authors, and to attend book fairs and conferences
A Commissioning Editor’s main job is to find new authors, books and ideas to publish. Their aim is to build up a publisher’s list with successful authors and books.
- Keeping up to date with trends in the book market
- Identifying future markets and new products
- Deciding whether to accept submitted manuscripts
- Developing ideas for books and identifying suitable authors
- Preparing publishing proposals including costings, projected sales and income
- Making decisions on reprinting
- Revising and producing new editions
- Making sure schedules are followed and deadlines are met
You'll work closely with other departments like sales, marketing, and production. You may also supervise editorial staff.
You may receive a bonus if your commissions are successful. You might need to work long hours, including evenings, to meet deadlines in busy periods. You'll usually work in an office, or from home, but you'll also travel to meet with clients, agents and authors. You may travel overseas to attend book fairs and conferences.
This role is ideal for someone with a good knowledge of the English language, knowledge of media production and communication and excellent verbal communication skills.
You'll usually start out as an editorial assistant and work your way up, perhaps tp the position of assistant editor. There's a lot of competition for jobs so you may find it useful to have a degree. The degree subject you choose is not usually important but particularly relevant subjects might include publishing, creative writing and journalism. However, if you want to work for a specialist publication, for example, a technical, medical or scientific journal, you're likely to need a related degree or a high level of specialist subject knowledge.
You could also take a postgraduate qualification in publishing or digital publishing, but this isn't essential. There are editorial traineeships at various publishing companies and many publishers have recently introduced a Publishing Assistant apprenticeship, which would be a great place to start a career in editorial.
You'll also need to get some experience before applying for your first job in publishing. To build up your experience you could volunteer for student and community newspapers, keep an online blog, have an online presence on sites such as Twitter and submit articles and reviews to local papers or websites which is also a good way to develop contacts, as many jobs are not advertised.
It could be a good idea to take a proofreading or editing course, like the ones offered by the Publishing Training Centre or the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. You may also find it useful to join organisations like The Publishers Association and Professional Publishers Association, for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
With experience, you could progress to senior commissioning editor, editorial manager, director, or work as a freelance consultant.