Book Editor: Education Requirements and Career 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.

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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.

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 grow only 1% from 2010 to 2020. The mean annual salary for editors working for book, newspaper and other periodical publishers was $62,440 in 2012 (www.bls.gov).

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