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Book Editor Job Description, Career as a Book Editor, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s degree

Median Salary: $22.10 per hour

Job Prospects: Fair

Job Description

Editors spend their day reviewing and correcting the work of writers. Since the editing pertains to books, an editor spends a significant amount of time reviewing the work of a writer and performing some rather extensive editing. An editor reviews for written content, or is involved in the development and marketing of the book itself.

Within a large publishing company, a book editor has a more extensive role in the book’s development. The editor assigns work to a writer, or provides required examples of work or sources he writer needs. In this role, the book editor works as a support person to the author. Alternatively book editors provide ideas and themes to writers as a pitch for potential books. The majority of editors do, however, have a writing background which helps them formulate ideas and assist the writer as necessary.

An editor typically remains in this role or moves on to participate in ghost writing. A more recent trend is to move into a freelance role where they provide book editing services, and build upon that with ghostwriting services. The freelance route is what is providing the majority of job opportunities in recent years. Whatever capacity a book editor works within, they are usually partnered up with a writer. They review the written content and provide recommendations, modifications, and edits that can make the book read better.

For book editors that wish to move on with their career or have their own freelance business, it helps to have a wide array of editing and writing experience. It’s imperative that a book editor have a command of the language and be able to think through the appropriate way to say things so that the content provided is of the utmost quality.

Training/Educational Requirements

The majority of book editors have a bachelor’s degree, usually in journalism or communications. It’s not a necessity that the degree be in this specific area, but it can prove to be quite helpful in getting started in this occupation. Although a background in English (or the native language) is not a prerequisite, a command of it is imperative. It’s important to understand and be able to properly use grammar, punctuation, and all elements required for proper writing.

Since book editors focus most of their attention on reviewing and modifying the content of writers, they need to keep up on current trends. It is helpful to keep up with any classes offered through universities or local resources. A book editor must be well versed not only in communication skills, but also within various styles. They must be able to work through content and provide suggestions to ensure the book reads properly and that readers will understand the ideas being presented. Keeping skills current and fresh is a key component to this career.

How to Get Hired

The best way for an individual to get hired as a book editor is to have experience. Having a background in writing is helpful with preparing an individual to become a book editor. In some instances, an individual may work within a different medium to prepare them for this role. Working at a newspaper, for example, checking facts and performing research can prepare an individual to become a full-time book editor.

Alternatively, working for a publication as an editor can help an individual to get hired. Any way an individual demonstrates their ability to communicate effectively through writing and editing is a surefire way to get hired. Demonstrating a proper grasp of the language is imperative. The more experience an individual has, the better the likelihood they will be hired by a publishing company or client.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Unfortunately the demand for book editors and other related positions is expected to decrease. As corporations and publishing companies outsource work to freelance workers, the potential for working in a full-time role is expected to decrease dramatically. As more writers and editors alike continue to find work on a freelance or contractual basis, companies are attracted to this temporary nature of hiring with no associated overhead costs.

As the intent of books is to inform and entertain, there will always be a need for book editors. Although the need for them on a full-time basis or as part of a bigger organization may decline, there will always be some required. It is a good idea to look into performing such responsibilities on a freelance basis on the side to keep skills sharp. There is a greater potential for book editors to be hired within the academic world since there is a need for books in this segment.

Working Environment

Depending on the organization, a book editor’s work environment may vary a bit. Most of the time, a book editor works within a typical office environment. If they are on staff or work for the publisher or organization on a full-time basis, they can expect to have a rather comfortable office that is away from noise and possible distractions. The environment will be conducive to allowing an individual to concentrate and provide the required editing services.

If a book editor works in a more involved role with the writer, they may be in a more hectic environment and interact with other departments. If they are working to support or assign work to a writer, they are typically in an office that’s in the middle of everything. With the growth of freelance book editors, the working environment is within the individual’s home. This is up to the discretion of the individual, but it is a good idea to ensure it is located away from any potential distractions.

Salary and Benefits

The median salary for a book editor was about $22.10 per hour as of 2006. The range can vary quite dramatically based on the assignment and the individual’s seniority. There isn’t necessarily one typical range since pay is dependent on experience, full or part time status, and involvement within the organization. If an individual works as a book editor on a freelance basis, they generally charge an hourly or per project rate. If the book editor works as part of a corporation or publisher, they receive standard benefits such as medical coverage and paid vacation. They may also work on a contract basis as part of a union and receive benefits from them directly. If a book editor works on a freelance basis, they would not receive any additional benefits.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCommunication and the Arts