How to Become a Commissioning Editor

A commissioning editor plays an important role in a book publishing company.  This career requires individuals with outstanding written and spoken communication, organizational and financial management skills.

What Do Commissioning Editors Do?

Commissioning editors are responsible for the identification of books and media products for the purpose of building a publisher’s list. They work closely with various other departments such as production, marketing and sales to carry out the following duties:

  •          Finding new products and pinpointing future markets
  •          Making a choice in whether to accept newly submitted manuscripts
  •          Identifying appropriate authors and cultivating ideas for books
  •          Organizing publishing proposals  as well as projected sales, costings and income
  •          Giving out contracts to agents and authors
  •          Deciding on revising, reprinting and generating new editions
  •          Ensuring that schedules are adhered to and deadlines are met


Commissioning editors’ earnings vary according to their experience and level of service. Generally, they take home an average annual salary of £18,000. With more experience, they can earn as follows:

Commissioning Editors


Senior Editors

 £30,000- £40,000

Source: Getsmaart


To serve well as a commissioning editor, you need to:

  •          Be excellent in both written and spoken communication
  •          Have good negotiating skills
  •          Have proper organizational and planning skills
  •          Be good in financial management
  •          Be able to work to meet deadlines and within budgets
  •          Have good project management skills
  •          Have excellent IT and administration skills
  •          Be proactive and confident
  •          Be on the lookout for new opportunities


To become a commissioning editor, you can begin your career in a low-ranking position in a publishing corporation. For instance, you might start as an editorial assistant then progress to a copy editor. With increased experience, you can assume the role of a commissioning editor. In professional and academic publishing, you can be given the role of a commissioning editor if you happen to have an outstanding understanding of a particular subject. Such subjects include but are not limited to:

  •          Children’s books
  •          Academic, technical, medical, educational and professional books
  •          Prevalent fiction and non-fiction content

For some specialties such as medical or scientific publishing, you might be required to secure a relevant degree. Though not essential, you can pursue a postgraduate qualification or degree in publishing to develop your publishing knowledge and skills. Throughout your career, you are supposed to ensure that your skills are up to date. You can do this by completing short and distance learning courses that are provided by various organizations such the PTC and SfEP. Such bodies provide you with opportunities for networking and professional support. As a member of bodies such as SfEP, you enhance the chances of potential employers finding you by entering your particulars on the society’s directory which is very useful for companies in need for specialists in the editing field.

20 percent discount
20 percent discount

Your success as a commissioning editor is determined by the amount of profit on books you are able to bring in. With increased experience, you might serve a freelance consultant.

Career Prospects

Typical employers for commissioning editors include academic publishers and publishing houses. Since a lot of jobs receive little advertisement, those that are publicized attract increased competition. However, prospective commissioning agents can always find these advertisements in various publications, newspapers, as well as recruitment agencies.

For these professionals, job shadowing, networking and speculative applications are essential. Furthermore, temporary jobs are bound to lead to permanent job placements. To succeed as a commissioning editor, you not only need to be proactive but also creative.

If you are willing to take your editing skills to another level, this job might the best choice for you.

Image Source: Casestudylink




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