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Commissioning editor

Commissioning editors commission or buy authors, book titles or ideas for publication.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • a degree
  • experience in publishing, as an editorial assistant or copy editor
If you want to work for an academic or specialist publisher, like scientific or medical, it will help if you have a degree in that area, or a high level of specialist subject knowledge.

You could take a postgraduate qualification in publishing or digital publishing, but this isn’t essential.

You could also try job shadowing to get some experience before applying for your first job in publishing. This is also a good way to develop contacts, as many jobs are not advertised.

Creative Choices has useful information about careers in editing and publishing.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • negotiating skills
  • planning and organisational skills
  • financial management skills
  • project management skills
  • business skills
  • administration and IT skills

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • 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.

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £24,000

Experienced: £28,000 to £38,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000 or more

You may receive a bonus if your commissions are successful.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You might need to work long hours, including evenings, to meet deadlines in busy periods.

You'll usually work in a busy office environment, but you’ll also travel to meet with clients, agents and authors.

You may travel overseas to attend book fairs and conferences.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to senior commissioning editor, editorial manager, director, or work as a freelance consultant.

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Last updated: 13 December 2016