How Do I Become a Book Editor?

Explore the career requirements for book editors. Get the facts about education requirements, salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Children`s Book Illustration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Book Editor?

A book editor is an editor who works for a book publisher. Their role is to review submitted material, contract manuscripts that they believe are an ideal fit for the publisher they work for, and to work with the authors to ensure that the written material is delivered error-free on schedule. Editors must consider whether the manuscript will appeal to the intended audience that the publisher targets. For example, a children's book publisher will not publish an 800-page textbook on Russian history. A mystery book publisher will not publish a children's alphabet picture book. Editors may also be involved in establishing the visual look and layout for books, and may collaborate with artists and photographers to ensure the cover design suits the desired look.

Training Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Journalism, communications, English
Key Responsibilities Read book proposals and drafts; edit content and confirm facts for publication; communicate with other editors and authors
Job Growth (2014-2024) -5% (for all editors)*
Median Salary (2015) $56, 010 editors for books, newspapers and directory*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Skills Do I Need to Become a Book Editor?

As a book editor, your job may vary based upon your employer, according to the Occupational Information Network (www.online.onetcenter.org). Your main job may be to review proposals for books and decide whether or not to purchase the author's publication rights, so you may need strong decision-making and communication skills. Since most book publishing companies use numerous computer programs, you may need to be familiar with computer graphics, publishing, editing and Web design programs.

In addition to having strong writing and interpersonal abilities, you must also be highly organized and detail-oriented. If you're seeking a senior book editor position, jobs posted for that title on the Association of American Publishers, Inc. job board as of January 2011 suggest you may need a minimum of 5-7 years of experience in the book publishing industry (www.bookjobs.com).

What Education Requirements Do I Need?

Although there is no set educational path to become a book editor, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that you typically need at least a bachelor's degree in English, journalism or communications (www.bls.gov). English and journalism programs may teach you to how to articulate and compose yourself through writing. You may also be able to develop a portfolio of your writing samples, which you could submit for internships or jobs. Some communications bachelor's degree programs may be offered in conjunction with journalism programs and focus more on news reporting and writing, ethics, media and public policy.

What about Experience?

The Occupational Information Network states that most editors begin their careers as writers and then work their way up in the field. You can garner experience in high school or college by editing your school's newspaper or yearbook, both of which may help you in your path to become a book editor. Some universities and colleges may offer co-ops or internships at magazines, newspapers or book publishers where you can obtain first-hand experience in the industry and network with other contacts outside of the university. Once you graduate, you may be able to secure an entry-level editing or writing position; after a few years, you may be able to become a book editor.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Book editors share some tasks in common with proofreaders, writers and authors. All of these professionals need a bachelor's degree, preferably in English, journalism or communications. Proofreaders review text to ensure that it is error-free and formatted correctly for publication. This is a task that editors may perform, as they may review text and present notes to the author about potential factual or technical errors. Writers and authors both work with editors. Their work may be assigned or commissioned by an editor, and the editor will set the deadlines for their work to be completed and for corrections to be made. Editors, writers, authors and proofreaders all play crucial roles in preparing written content for publication.

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