How to Become a Book Editor

Working as a book editor provides you with two career options. You can help authors develop publishable manuscripts by checking their drafts for grammatical errors and how the story flows. You can also work at a publishing house performing a variety of duties. For example, you may be responsible for reviewing book proposals and sample chapters to decide whether the publishing house should purchase the publication rights from the author. Also, you may decide the type of fiction and nonfiction that appeals to readers. However, before working on your own or for a publishing house, you must know how to become a book editor.


  1. Image titled Become a Book Editor Step 1
    Determine your book editing specialty.
    • Understand what type of editing you're interested in and make a list of your career interest. For example, you may want to specialize in copy editing checking for grammatical errors. You may be interested in reviewing manuscripts and working with writers.
  2. Image titled Become a Book Editor Step 2
    Earn a college degree. Employers prefer you to have at least a 4-year bachelor's degree in areas such as English, communication or journalism.
    • Apply to a college that fits your goal of becoming a book editor and gain admission.
    • Complete classes in required courses.
  3. Image titled Become a Book Editor Step 3
    Gain practical experience.
    • Work at your college newspaper or magazine as an editor. You gain experience editing articles submitted by college students.
    • Seek an internship at a publishing house. You work under the supervision of an editor and learn different aspects of the career.
  4. Image titled Become a Book Editor Step 4
    Work in an entry-level book publishing position. Obtaining a job as an editorial assistant is a stepping stone to an advanced book editing career.
    • Working as a publication assistant at a publishing house is one way to gain practical experience. As a publication assistant, you read unsolicited manuscripts submitted by freelance writers and gauge whether they are publishable and proofread galleys or drafts of manuscripts.
    • As an assistant editor you work with writers and agents to prepare manuscripts to become a publishable book.


  • Study and pay attention to your literature classes and lessons! You will be able to edit more books if you know more.
  • Participate in professional associations and organizations for editors. You can make networking contacts and keep abreast of different job openings in the editing field.
  • Read, read, then read some more. Do not limit yourself to one or two genre, but as many as you can.


  • Publishing houses prefer hiring college graduates who have completed internships at publishing houses and have some experience such as an editorial or publication house assistant.
  • It may take at least 3 years to gain enough practical experience to become a book editor. Advancement typically comes through promotions rather than going from one publishing company to another. Usually the last advancement for a book editor is a promotion to senior editor.

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Categories: Publishing