Career Guide


Ben Maples  · Oct 7th 2020

Reading some of the magazines and websites that are around today that focus on everything from Entertainment News, you do often wonder how the stories are chosen and how the tone of the articles written for the editorial itself, all reflect the same tone a

Editing. Circling phrases with a red pen and providing notes.

So what is an Editor/Editorial Assistant and how do you become one? Well, we’ve compiled a useful career guide for an Editor/Editorial Assistant, which you can check out below.

Editor Career Guide

What is an editorial assistant?

If you love books, reading and the art of the written word, then publishing and editing sound like the perfect fit. Taking a look into the editor job description, we find that an editor will work towards growing the publishing industry, commission work for publishers and oversee the entire process, from idea to a printed publication.

Now, the editorial assistant job description is slightly different as this role supports editorial staff in administration, planning, commissioning and producing works. It is also known as an assistant editor or perhaps a junior editor role in a large publishing house.

Editorial work consists of providing support at all stages of publication, from online texts, books and magazines to journals and publicity materials. This career is best suited for someone with excellent communication and grammar skills, who has a love of writing and reading and a keen interest in publishing.

It requires attention to detail, organisation and time management skills as well as someone who can work to a deadline. As an editorial assistant, you may support one or more members of the team, from features editor to commissioning editor, and you may have your workload to do alongside administrative tasks.

There are hundreds of publishers across the world, some who specialise and others who produce content across various genres. Each publishing house is different from the next; therefore, you should have an interest in the type of publishing you’re working for.

Salaries for starters are between £15,000 and £23,000, but this can vary depending on the type and size of the company.

What does an editorial assistant do?

Publishing assistant jobs have a whole range of responsibilities they need to complete daily, from editorial and administrative duties. You’ll support the publishing editor throughout the entire process from conception to completion. You may act as a personal assistant, deal with contracts and royalties and liaise with other teams - from writers, photographers and printers to production staff and designers.

If we take a further look into the publisher job description, we find that communicating and supporting freelance writers, stylists, researchers and illustrators may also be part of the role.

Editorial work also includes obtaining rights to use materials from other publications, correcting manuscripts and negotiating timescales throughout the various stages of the publishing process. It consists of summarising written content, filing, photocopying as well as researching projects. They may support the publishing editor by responding with email, website and phone queries from members of the public and writers. An editorial assistant will use computers for desktop publishing, word processing, social media and email to perform their duties.

Regarding editorial work for in-house company publications, they may amend and write articles and reports and collate work of several authors or freelancers. Also, they’ll most like to use specialist publishing packages like InDesign and QuarkXPress. Online editing may consist of proofreading, writing and editing online content, uploading images and text using a content management system and distributing newsletters.

After a time, an editorial assistant may make recommendations and assess manuscripts to the publishing editor, rewrite and update material and respond to copyright queries. The job involves using specialist knowledge and interests to contribute ideas, source and find new talent and freelance or even writing your material.

Editor Career

How do you become a publishing assistant?

A publishing editor will look for vital editorial skills when hiring an editorial assistant. Alongside this, qualifying a relevant subject will help you secure a job. This career is available to all graduates, but studying journalism, media, arts and humanities, communication studies or English at university is usually preferable.

Although studying social, business, or economic studies can also aid your chances depending on the area of publishing, you want to work. Publishing assistant jobs are accessible without an HND, foundation or undergraduate degree; however, most are graduates. If you didn’t go to university, having specialist knowledge through previous work experience can also be sufficient.

Most editorial work doesn’t require a postgraduate qualification, but again it can be useful. Therefore, if you already have or want to study a Master’s or Postgraduate Diploma, then it won’t harm your application. If it’s in a relevant subject, as mentioned above, it’ll increase your chances as it shows your genuine interest in the industry. Speaking a second language can increase your chances of finding a job in journals or magazines printed internationally.

Some courses offer editorial work experience placements either through non-term time or during a placement year. If this is something you’d be interested in, check with the institution and course provider to find out more.

How to get editorial work experience?

Finding assistant editor work experience can not only make your CV stand out from the crowd but offer insight into the job before you jump in headfirst. As this is a highly competitive field, having experience is desirable but also not essential.

If you love books, reading and the art of the written word, then publishing and editing sound like the perfect fit.

Each publishing house will host various work placements in different departments, but it’s dependent on the company how long it runs for and how many placements they offer. You can reach out to a publishing editor, the human resource and talent team or even an assistant editor on social media and email to find out what they have on offer.

Gaining experience allows your editorial assistant CV to shine and shows your commitment to the industry. It’ll allow you to build up your knowledge, contacts and skills and will enable you to understand how the world of publishing works. You could either shadow someone at a newspaper or magazine, work in a bookshop or library and take up temporary and junior positions in a publishing house.

Other options you can do alongside studying is to create a blog or website to showcase your work as well as develop and network on social media. Make the most of the time you have and try to be consistent with blog posts, as it shows dedication and discipline in regards to your writing. Relevant news, jobs and work experience opportunities are on a company’s social media and website.

What skills do you need to be an assistant editor?

Now we get to the fun stuff - editorial skills! Anyone who is enthusiastic, self-motivated, calm while under pressure and creative will fit right in. Excellent communication, interpersonal, writing, reading and grammar skills are crucial for this type of job. An assistant editor will need attention to detail, a high standard of spoken and written English as well as great digital-editing and proofreading skills.

They will also be IT savvy, from secretarial and administration tasks, and be able to use word processing, content managing systems and be able to research. A publishing editor will be looking for a flexible candidate, who has initiative and can work independently and well with others. Also, having knowledge and experience with social media, from Twitter and Instagram to Facebook and LinkedIn is handy.


What is the average salary for publishing assistant jobs?

Salaries for starters are between £15,000 and £23,000, but this can vary depending on the type and size of the company. The average assistant editor salary can be at around £23,000; however, after several years worth of experience, this can be rise to £40,000 for a publishing editor. A senior editor working at a large publishing house may earn more than £40,000. Editorial directors and those in charge of entire departments (also known as editor-in-chief) can earn £50,000 plus.

Where to find publishing assistant jobs?

After perfecting your editorial assistant CV, you’ll be on the lookout for publishing assistant jobs. Most of the work is office-based in large urban areas or cities, like London. If freelance is more your gig, translation, styling, proofreading, copywriting and copy-editing is usually more common in this area.

Most opportunities are within London or the surrounding areas. However, publishing work can be found in other areas of the UK and major cities. Publishing can be divided into six main categories: books, directories, magazines and newspapers, professional and academic journals and digital publishing. You’ll find opportunities within organisations that sit under these sectors.

It’s a common career for graduates, reaching out to recruitment agencies, searching in the specialist press and checking individual websites for job adverts is your best chance of securing a job. Networking is also crucial, whether it’s on LinkedIn or through editorial assistant work experience, you should always take up the opportunities to expand your contacts and maintain relationships.

>A publishing editor will look for vital editorial skills when hiring an editorial assistant.

Graduate schemes are not common, even though this career is popular with graduates. Large publishing houses which offer graduate programmes are highly competitive so invest time in your application to give it its best shot. Don’t turn down part-time or temporary work, in some cases, this may be all that is available at that time, and it can lead to permanent positions. It also offers the chance to gain more work experience.

What are the prospects for an editorial assistant?

Progression is usually structured in large companies, from editorial assistant, features editor (or other specialised departments), development editor, project editor, commissions editor, senior editor and finally and editorial director or editor-in-chief.

Candidates usually move up after performing well, hitting targets, offering creative ideas and showcasing a strong work ethic. If you work in a smaller firm, getting promoted may prove more difficult, so it’s common to move to a larger publishing house for more opportunities.

Another prospect involves working freelance - which allows flexible working from home - but also includes excellent networking skills to keep the work coming in. But there is also the chance of working overseas thanks to publishing being available throughout the world - so don’t let the UK stop you from working abroad.

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