Book Editor: Education Requirements and Career Information

Book editing requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree programs, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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If you're thinking about a career as a book editor, you should have strong communication and grammar skills, as well as the ability to work with writers and guide them through the publication process. Most book editors hold a bachelor's degree and begin as editorial assistants, where they can work under the supervision of senior staff.

Essential Information

Book editors review manuscripts and book proposals to decide whether books should be published. They also review and edit drafts and oversee the publication process, working closely with authors to perfect the manuscript. Most hold bachelor's degrees, usually in English, journalism or related fields. Book editors generally work their way up the ranks of the publishing industry, often starting as editorial assistants. They need keen grammar and language skills, as well as the ability to work with others. Some editors specialize in areas including book acquisitions or copy editing.

Education Requirements Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Outlook (2014-24)* 5% decline (all editors)
Mean Wage (2015)* $64,910 (all editors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Education Requirements for a Book Editor

A bachelor's degree or higher is required for work as a book editor. Degrees in English, journalism or communications are preferred by most employers; however, degrees in other fields can also lead to work as a book editor if the candidate has the necessary knowledge and experience. Editors should have a particular interest in the technical aspects of writing, such as grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. They must also have the ability to work closely with authors and guide them through the publishing process. Publishing houses generally seek college graduates who have excellent written and verbal communication skills, a strong academic record and a keen interest in book publishing. Internships or volunteer experience in the publishing industry can also help prepare candidates for a book editing career.

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Career Information for Book Editors

Because experience in the publishing industry is highly valued by employers, entry-level positions are good stepping stones on the path to a book editor career. Working as an editorial assistant is a rite of passage for many aspiring book editors. In addition to clerical tasks, editorial assistants read and evaluate manuscripts, develop relationships with authors and agents and prepare drafts for print. Assistants work under the supervision of senior book editors and get an insider's look at a career in book editing.

Book editors may specialize in various aspects of the job. Some editors work solely in the area of acquisitions, where they're responsible for finding and reviewing material and making publication recommendations. Others may specialize in copy editing, ensuring that texts are consistent as well as grammatically and stylistically correct. Advancement in the field usually comes through promotion from entry-level to mid-level and senior editorial roles. Editorial assistants and proofreaders, for example, may become copy editors or associate editors; senior editors may eventually become publishers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for editors, including book editors, was expected to drop by 5% from 2014 to 2024. The mean annual salary for editors working for book, newspaper and other periodical publishers was $64,910 in 2015 (www.bls.gov).

Book editors make decisions about publishing by reviewing manuscripts and book proposals. They also edit drafts and oversee the publication of books. Specialization is available in areas of the field such as copy editing or acquisitions.

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