Want to edit a magazine, or decide what books to publish? An entry-level role in publishing (as an editorial assistant, trainee editor or editorial administrator) is usually the first step towards becoming a magazine editor or a commissioning editor.
The majority of would-be editors begin their careers in entry-level editorial roles, progressing through the editorial ranks once relevant skills and experience have been gained. Editorial assistants are employed by publishers of books, magazines and academic journals, professional associations and private companies that produce 'in-house' magazines. Freelance editorial and proofreading work is also readily available to individuals with relevant experience.
Much of the work includes routine editorial duties such as:
- proofreading and checking the accuracy of publications
- making amendments to and writing reports, articles, critiques and summaries
- planning and organising projects
- researching and commissioning features and new titles
- liaising with authors, marketing and production staff, including designers and printers.
Any degree discipline is acceptable for entry into the profession, although a relevant qualification, specialist knowledge or a scientific or languages background may be necessary for some opportunities. Previous copy-writing or editing experience is essential. Journalism or media sales work can also be helpful.
Employers seek candidates who possess excellent verbal and written communication skills and who are adaptable, able to work well under pressure and capable of meeting deadlines. Good administrative, IT and proofreading skills are also important.
Where to find out more
Most opportunities for editorial work arise in London and the southeast, or with academic publishers located in major towns and cities. Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers and relevant publications such as The Bookseller, Campaign, Print Week and Publishers Weekly.
Recruitment agencies sometimes advertise opportunities for secretarial work with publishing houses, which can be a good way of getting started in the profession. Advertised vacancies attract intense competition, so networking, job shadowing and speculative applications are advisable.