Commissioning Editor

Job Description:

Commissioning editors request or buy authors, book titles and ideas to publish them.

Job Category:
Culture, Media & Sport

What you will do:

As a commissioning editor you could:

  • keep up to date with trends in publishing
  • decide whether to publish an author’s work
  • develop ideas for books and choose suitable authors
  • write proposals, including predicted cost and sales information
  • decide when to reprint, revise or produce a new edition
  • make sure schedules are followed and deadlines are met


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent written communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Commissioning Editor, you should focus on gaining a strong educational foundation and developing skills related to communication, writing, literature, and media. While there are no specific subjects required for this role, the following subjects and skills can be valuable in preparing you for a career as a Commissioning Editor:

  1. English Language and Literature: Strong reading and writing skills are essential for editing and reviewing manuscripts, articles, and other content. These subjects will also help you develop a critical eye for language and style.
  2. Media Studies: This subject can provide you with an understanding of media content, including newspapers, magazines, television, and online platforms, which is relevant to the editorial process.
  3. Communication Studies: Courses related to effective communication can help you develop essential interpersonal and communication skills for working with authors, writers, and other team members.
  4. Art and Design or Graphic Design: An understanding of visual aesthetics can be beneficial if you’re involved in the layout and design of publications.
  5. Business Studies or Economics: These subjects can help you understand the business side of publishing, including budgeting, marketing, and market analysis.
  6. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using computers and software, particularly word processing and publishing software, is essential for document editing and layout.
  7. Foreign Languages: Depending on the nature of the publications you’ll be working with, proficiency in a foreign language can be an asset, especially if you’re dealing with translations or international content.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
  • specialist courses run by professional bodies

To become a commissioning editor, it will help if you a have a degree. The subject you choose is not usually important but relevant subjects include:

  • publishing
  • creative writing
  • journalism

If you want to work for a specialist publication like a technical, medical or scientific journal, you may need a degree in that subject instead.

You could do a postgraduate qualification in publishing or digital publishing but it’s not essential.

You’ll usually start out as an editorial assistant and work your way up.

There’s a lot of competition for jobs so you may find it easier if you have a degree.

You’ll need some experience before you apply for your first job in publishing.

To build up your experience you can:

  • volunteer for student or local newspapers
  • write and promote a blog on a certain topic
  • send articles to local newspapers or websites

This is also a good way to get to know people who work in the industry. This will help as many jobs are not advertised.

Direct Application
If you have specialist subject knowledge, you can apply directly for commissioning editor jobs in academic publishing.

Working Hours and Environment:

Typically you could work 37 to 39 hours a week, occasionally including evenings or weekends.

You could work in an office.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could become a senior commissioning editor, editorial manager, director or you could work as a freelance consultant.