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Job Description: Publishing Editor.

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Publishing editors work in a number of publishing areas. These include newspaper and magazine publishing, book publishing and online publishing.

A publishing editor's main responsibility is for the style and content of the publication. This means that the role is mostly managerial, especially in newspapers and magazines, where they are responsible for the entire content of a publication.

Job Description, salaries and benefits

Publishing editors work in a number of publishing areas. These include newspaper and magazine publishing, book publishing and online publishing. A publishing editor's main responsibility is for the style and content of the publication.

In newspapers and magazines, the role of an editor is likely to be managerial, with responsibility for the entire content. Junior editors on the same title might be in charge of sections, such as sport, fashion or news. Editors are also responsible for:

  • making sure that the production process runs smoothly
  • making sure that publications are printed on time
  • recruiting staff
  • liaising with the advertising and production departments.

Editors are likely to work normal office hours, but meeting deadlines may involve working additional hours, especially on large circulation newspapers. Most of the time is spent working in an office using a computer and holding regular meetings with other key members of staff.

A local newspaper editor may earn around £16,000 to £25,000 a year. Experienced editors and commissioning editors can earn up to £40,000. Editors working on national titles may earn over £100,000 a year.

Publishing editors should have:

  • excellent grammar and spelling skills
  • an eye for detail and be very accurate in their work
  • imagination and good visual sense
  • good IT skills, including knowledge of word processing and design programs
  • leadership skills and the ability to be diplomatic and fair.

Employers include book publishers, magazines, newspapers, online publications and trade publications. Most opportunities are in the south of England, particularly in and around London, although some opportunities exist in Edinburgh. Most editors start in junior roles and work their way up. Competition for editing jobs is fierce.

While there are no standard entry requirements, most publishing editors have a degree and often have a background in journalism or editing. Qualifications in a specialist area may also be asked for by some publications.

Training is usually on the job, though employees may have the opportunity to do professionally related short courses.

With experience a local newspaper editor may move on to a regional publication, and then on to a national paper. Successful editors may also progress to become editors-in-chief of a group of newspapers, or of a magazine publisher, although these positions are extremely rare.

 

What is the work like?

A publishing editor oversees junior or section editors who are in charge of one section, such as the political editor, sports editor or fashion editor. Sub-editors also work within these teams to check written work for accuracy, spelling and consistency of style.

As well as overseeing the content and look of the publication, editors are also responsible for:

  • making sure that the production process runs smoothly, and that publications are printed on time
  • recruiting staff
  • commissioning work from freelance writers and photographers
  • liaising with the advertising and production departments.

On smaller publications, editors may also help to write articles and sub-edit them. They may write headlines and captions for pictures, and lay out page designs. Some may have their own column to express their personal views.

Starting salaries for local newspaper editors and book editors may be between £16,000 and £25,000 a year.

 

Hours and environment

Publishing editors mostly work normal office hours, Monday to Friday. At busy times and towards a deadline, they may need to work long and irregular hours, including evenings and weekends. When working on newspapers, they may work shifts.

Editors are office based and work at a desk with a computer. Some offices are modern and well equipped, while others may be small and cramped.

Editors may be expected to travel around the UK, especially in book publishing when they may go to meet new writers and agents. They may also occasionally travel abroad to attend book fairs.

 

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • Local newspaper editors and book editors may start on between £16,000 and £25,000 a year.
  • Section editors on a magazine or newspaper may earn up to £40,000.
  • Salaries are more varied in book publishing, depending on seniority and the size of the company, but may typically be between £20,000 and £35,000.
  • Experienced editors on national newspapers/magazines may earn over £100,000 a year.

 

Skills and personal qualities

Publishing editors should:

  • have excellent grammar and spelling skills
  • have an eye for detail and be very accurate in their work
  • have imagination and good visual sense
  • have good IT skills, including knowledge of word processing and design programs
  • have leadership skills and the ability to be diplomatic and fair
  • be able to give clear, accurate instructions
  • understand their target audience
  • have good organisational skills
  • be able to make decisions
  • be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • be prepared to work long hours if required.

 

Interests

Publishing editors need to be:

  • interested in words and the mechanics of written language
  • committed to producing entertaining and informative publications
  • knowledgeable in the subject area if working on a specialist publication.

 

Getting in

Employers include book publishers, magazines, newspapers, online publications and trade publications. Most opportunities are found in the south of England, particularly in and around London. There are also opportunities in Edinburgh.

Competition for editing jobs is fierce. Most editors have worked their way up from junior roles, often in the journalistic field. Work experience is vital to finding the first job in the industry as it proves commitment and appropriate skills to an employer.

The magazine sector and online publications are the main growth areas. Employment in other areas is fairly stable, although there is a slight decline in national newspapers. More than 200,000 books are published in the UK every year and the market is still growing.

Many vacancies are not advertised, so it is important to build a network of contacts who can advise on opportunities that may arise. Some vacancies may be advertised in national newspapers, trade publications like The Bookseller and on specialist websites, such as www.bookcareers.com. Publishing organisations like the Society of Young Publishers also maintain vacancy databases that are open to members.

Entry for young people

While there are no standard entry requirements, most publishing editors have a degree and often have a background in journalism or editing. Qualifications in a specialist area may also be asked for by some publications.

Courses covering various aspects of publishing are available throughout the UK.

  • For degree courses in publishing, and multidisciplinary degrees with publishing options, applicants usually need a minimum of two A levels/three H grades, and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent.
  • For postgraduate courses, applicants usually need a good first degree, 2.1 or higher.
  • For BTEC/SQA higher national qualifications in media or journalism, applicants usually need one or two A levels/two H grades and four or five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent.
  • Courses in journalism are available at many universities and colleges throughout the UK. Many are pre-entry courses. For some of these courses, applicants need a degree; for others they need two A levels/three H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English, or equivalent qualifications.
  • Some journalists are recruited direct from school or college and do two years' training, during which they take day-release or distance-learning courses leading to the qualifications of the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). However, these direct-entry jobs are increasingly filled by graduates.

Entry for adults

Due to the need for a high level of experience, adult entry to editor positions is the norm. Editors usually have considerable previous experience as journalists or in the specialist fields covered by a publication.

Institutions offering training courses often welcome mature entrants and accept older applicants without qualifications if they have relevant experience or specialist knowledge.

 

Training

Most training is carried out on the job, but usually only after some form of academic study. Some large publishing houses and newspapers run graduate training schemes.

In addition, various colleges and organisations offer short courses and distance-learning courses. The NCTJ oversees most of the training courses for journalists. The Publishing Training Centre offers a variety of courses that would be useful for potential and newly-promoted editors. The Society for Editors and Proofreaders, The Society of Young Publishers, The London School of Publishing and the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies all offer a range of relevant training opportunities.

Getting on

With appropriate experience it is possible to move on to a variety of positions. A local newspaper editor may move on to a regional publication, and then on to a national paper. Successful editors may also progress to become editors-in-chief of a group of newspapers, or of a magazine publisher, although these positions are extremely rare.

Experienced editors could also consider overseas employment. There is a growth in the publishing industry in the Far East and Middle East particularly, offering opportunities for experienced editors.

 

Further information

 

Further reading

  • Careers in Publishing and Bookselling - Kogan Page
  • Inside Book Publishing - Routledge
  • Working in English - VT Lifeskills
  • Working in print & publishing - Connexions
  • Your Future in Magazines - Periodicals Training Council

 

Magazines/journals

  • The Bookseller
  • Publishing News

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