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Just thought I's let you know, I have been looking for a job for almost a year now, Got your CV last week, sent it out Sunday, invited to interview on Monday, today, given a starting date at my new job!!! You are good!!! Thanks a lot!!! M. Krawczyk
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Career Profiles Database
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A commissioning editor plays a key role in the success of a book publishing company. The job involves selecting new authors and titles that will sell well – known as building the 'front-list' – and monitoring the performance of titles already published – the 'back-list' – to make sure the company stays profitable.
Typical responsibilities 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, and projected sales and revenue
- issuing contracts to authors and agents
- making decisions on reprinting, revising, producing new editions or putting titles out of print
- making sure that schedules are followed and deadlines are met.
Commissioning editors working closely with other departments such as sales and marketing, and production. The role can also involve supervising editorial staff.
Hours and Environment
As a commissioning editor you will work long and irregular hours, including evenings, to meet the needs of your commissioning schedule. You will be based in a busy office environment, but will also travel to meet with clients and and authors.
You may also have the opportunity to travel overseas, for example to attend book fairs.
Skills and Interests
To be a commissioning editor you need:
- excellent spoken and written communication skills
- negotiating skills
- planning and organisational skills
- financial management skills
- the ability to work to deadlines and within budget
- projects management skills
- commercial flair
- administration and IT skills.
To become a commissioning editor, you will usually need to start in a junior position in a publishing company. This could mean starting as an editorial assistant, progressing to copy editor and then to commissioning editor. See the Copy Editor and Editorial Assistant profiles for more information.
In academic and professional publishing you might be able to go straight into a commissioning editor position if you have a high level of competence in your subject area.
You can also take a degree or postgraduate qualifications in publishing. This not essential, but will help you develop your knowledge and skills. For details of degrees, see the Publishers Association website. For specialist areas, such as scientific or medical publishing, publishers may prefer you to have a relevant degree.
Competition for jobs is fierce, so you may need to do job shadowing or work experience before applying for your first job. This is also a good way to develop contacts and network, as many jobs are not advertised.
Keeping up-to-date with industry developments is essential. You can do this by visiting book fairs, reading trade publications such as The Bookseller (available in reference libraries) and by subscribing to Publishing News Online (see Further Information below).
When you are employed as a commissioning editor you will need to keep your skills up-to-date. Organisations such as the Publishing Training Centre and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) run short and distance learning courses. See Further Information below for contact details.
Joining professional bodies such as the SfEP, Women in Publishing and the Publishers' Association will give you opportunities for professional support and networking. As a full member of SfEP your details can be entered on the society's directory, which is used by companies needing editing services.
Most large publishing companies are in London or the south east, although academic publishers are also based in university cities.
Employment in publishing is normally in the following areas:
- general or consumer books (popular fiction and non-fiction books, which account for the majority of book sales)
- academic, educational, technical, medical and professional books
- children’s books.
Opportunities for progression depend on the size of the publishing house. Working in a small publishing house may give you the opportunity to learn all aspects of the industry, but there may be more opportunities for promotion in larger companies.
If you are successful as a commissioning editor you could progress to senior commissioning editor, editorial manager or director. Your success will usually be judged on how much profit the books you select bring in. You may be able to work as a freelance consultant if you have a lot of experience.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Commissioning editors can earn between around £18,000 to around £25,000 a year.
At senior level earnings can be up to £40,000 or more.
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Further Help and Advice
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The information contained in our Career Profiles Database was correct at time of publishing, but since publication certain details may have changed so please use this section as a research tool and in some cases further research may be required.
Careers Database Information By Learn Direct Advice