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Commissioning editor

Commissioning editors request or buy authors, book titles and ideas to publish them.

Annual Salary

£25,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; away from home

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Commissioning editor jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a commissioning editor you could:

  • keep up to date with trends in publishing
  • decide whether to publish an author's work
  • develop ideas for books and choose suitable authors
  • write proposals, including predicted cost and sales information
  • decide when to reprint, revise or produce a new edition
  • make 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

To become a commissioning editor, it will help if you a have a degree. The subject you choose is not usually important but relevant subjects include:

  • publishing
  • creative writing
  • journalism

If you want to work for a specialist publication like a technical, medical or scientific journal, you may need a degree in that subject instead.

You could do a postgraduate qualification in publishing or digital publishing but it's not 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

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 easier if you have a degree.

Volunteering and work experience

You'll need some experience before you apply for your first job in publishing.

To build up your experience you can:

  • volunteer for student or local newspapers
  • write and promote a blog on a certain topic
  • send articles to local newspapers or websites

This is also a good way to get to know people who work in the industry. This will help as many jobs are not advertised.

Direct application

If you have specialist subject knowledge, you can apply directly for commissioning editor jobs in academic publishing.

Other routes

You could take a proofreading or editing course from the Publishing Training Centre or the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You may find it useful to join The Publishers Association and Professional Publishers Association. It might help you get professional recognition, training opportunities or make industry contacts.

Further information

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

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

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With experience, you could become a senior commissioning editor, editorial manager, director or you could 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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