Book Editors


Employment Prospects


Book editors may find employment with small publishing houses, large publishing houses, the federal government, or book packagers, or they may be self-employed as freelancers. The major book publishers are located in larger cities, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Publishers of professional, religious, business, and technical books are dispersed throughout the country. Approximately 44,954 editors work for book, newspaper, and magazine publishers in the United States.

Starting Out

New graduates can find editing positions through contacts they've made in college. Job listings are also found on employment Web sites and through employment agencies. College career counselors may be able to assist in finding book publishers to apply to for jobs. Another option is to simply look them up on the Internet and apply for positions directly. Many publishers advertise job openings on their corporate Web sites. However, by far the most helpful thing a would-be editor can do is to gain experience and contacts through internships and volunteer work. Starting positions are generally at the assistant level and can include administrative duties in addition to basic editing tasks.

Advancement Prospects

An editor's career path is dependent on the size and structure of the book publisher. Those who start as editorial assistants or proofreaders generally become copy editors. The next step may be a position as a senior copy editor, which involves overseeing the work of junior copy editors, or as a project editor. The project editor performs a wide variety of tasks, including copyediting, coordinating the work of in-house and freelance copy editors, and managing the schedule of a particular project. From this position, an editor may move up to become first assistant editor, then managing editor, then editor in chief. As editors advance, they are usually involved in more management work and decision making. The editor in chief works with the publisher to ensure that a suitable editorial policy is being followed, while the managing editor is responsible for all aspects of the editorial department. Head editors employed by a publisher may choose to start their own editing business, freelancing full time.

Tips for Entry

Participate in internships to obtain experience and make networking contacts. Visit http://bookjobs.com/search-internships for a list of internships offered by book publishers.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:

  • http://www.bookjobs.com
  • https://www.careerwebsite.com/?site_id=502
  • http://www.the-efa.org/job/joblist.php

Attend book publishing conferences to network, improve your skills, and interview for jobs. A useful list of conferences is available at http://bookjobs.com/publishing-events.

Stay on top of changes and trends in digital technology that affect how people obtain and read books.