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Commissioning editor

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

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; away from home

4%
Future employment

There will be 4% more Commissioning editor jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

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

Working environment

You could work in an office.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by professional bodies
University

The degree subject you choose is not usually important but particularly relevant subjects might include:

  • publishing
  • creative writing
  • journalism

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.

Entry requirements

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
For more information
Work

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 work 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.

Direct application

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.

Other routes

You could take a proofreading or editing course, like the ones offered by the Publishing Training Centre or the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

More information

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.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a commissioning editor from:The Publishers Association; Society for Editors and Proofreaders

You can also get information on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • 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
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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