Editorial Assistants


Employment Prospects


One of the best things about the field of editing is the many kinds of employment opportunities available. The most obvious employers for editorial assistants are newspapers, magazines, and book publishers. Most publishers are located in New York City, but many other publishers can be found in large cities across the country, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Other employers of editorial assistants include advertising agencies; colleges and universities; corporations; museums; nonprofit organizations; local, state, and federal governments; and radio and television news stations.

Starting Out

The position of editorial assistant is a great starting position in the editorial world. There is tremendous competition for editorial jobs, so it is important for a beginner who wishes to break into the business to be as well prepared as possible. College students who have gained experience as interns, have worked for publications during the summers, or have attended special programs in publishing will be at an advantage. Applicants for editorial positions must also expect to take and pass tests that are designed to determine their language skills.

Good sources of information about job openings are school career services offices, classified ads in newspapers and trade journals, specialized publications such as Publishers Weekly (https://www.publishersweekly.com), and media-related career Web sites, such as mediabistro.com (https://www.mediabistro.com). Another way to proceed is to identify local publishers through the Yellow Pages. Many publishers have Web sites that list job openings, and large publishers often have telephone job lines that serve the same purpose.

Advancement Prospects

Employees who start as editorial assistants and show promise generally become editors or copy editors. After gaining skill in that position, they may be given a wider range of duties while retaining the same title. The next step may be a position as an assistant editor or associate editor, and then senior editor. Copy editors may advance to a position such as senior copy editor, which involves overseeing the work of junior copy editors. Editors and copy editors may also progress to the position of 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, a typical line of advancement for an editor may be to move up to become first assistant editor, then managing editor, then editor in chief. These positions involve more management and decision making than is usually found in the positions described previously. 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. The assistant editor provides support to the managing editor.

In many cases, editorial workers advance by moving from a position in one company to the same position with a larger or more prestigious company. Such moves may bring significant increases in both pay and status.

Tips for Entry

Read publications such as Editor & Publisher (http://www.editorandpublisher.com) and the news section of the ACES Web site (https://aceseditors.org/news) to learn more about the field.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:

  • http://www.bookjobs.com/search-jobs
  • https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/editorial-assistant-jobs 
  • https://jobzone.publishersweekly.com 

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.

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

Use social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to stay up to date on industry developments and learn about job openings.