Commissioning editors commission or buy authors, book titles or ideas for publication.
Salary range: £20,000 to £40,000
How to become a commissioning editor
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- working towards this role
- applying directly
- specialist courses run by professional bodies
The degree subject you choose is not usually important but particularly relevant subjects might include:
- creative writing
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 take a postgraduate qualification in publishing or digital publishing, but this isn’t essential.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You’ll usually start out as an editorial assistant and work your way up. There’s a lot of competition for jobs so you may find it useful to have a degree.
Volunteering and experience
You’ll need to get some experience before applying for your first job in publishing. To build up your experience you can:
- volunteer for student and community newspapers
- keep an online blog
- have an online presence on sites such as Twitter
- submit articles and reviews to local papers or websites
This is also a good way to develop contacts, as many jobs are not advertised.
You may be able to apply directly for a job as a commissioning editor in academic and professional publishing, if you have a high level of specialist subject knowledge.
Professional and industry bodies
You may find it useful to join organisations like the The Publishers Association and Professional Publishers Association for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
You can find out more about becoming a commissioning editor from:
You can also get information on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of English language
- knowledge of media production and communication
- the ability to read English
- excellent verbal communication skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- excellent written communication skills
- the ability to work well with others
- to be flexible and open to change
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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 could work in an office.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could move on to be a senior commissioning editor, editorial manager, director, or work as a freelance consultant.
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