A Career as a Book Editor

Outside of working as an author, few careers are more ideal for lovers of books than that of a book editor. Book editors work within the broader publishing industry and are tasked with acquiring and editing books.  Within any given editorial department, there are various editorial positions. For the sake of efficiency, this article will discuss two broad categories: assistant/associate editors and editors. Assistant editors dedicate the majority of their time doing what their title implies—editing. Granting insight into the nature of assistant editing, Corley Miller, an intern at a major publishing house, insisted that “you have to love reading… and proofreading”. For lower-ranking employees and interns reading and rereading and rereading is the order of the day. Yet, reading and editing books is not just confined to the offices. Miller reports that during breaks, coworkers would talk books as well. In fact, after a day of reading, it is not uncommon in the industry for assistant editors to go home and cozy up to a nice book of their choice.

The nature of work for fully-fledged editors is slightly different. Editors spend the majority of their days meeting with authors and coworkers to discuss ongoing projects—their actual editing is often done after-hours or over the weekend. Editors are tasked with selecting a publishing house’s books, collaborating with authors throughout the editing process, and coordinating with other departments to bring the best out of a book. Yet, despite the corporate implication of a day of meetings, the work of fully-fledged editors still requires and feeds off of a deep passion for books. Catharine Bleeke, an editor for Flatiron Books (which is indeed located in the beautiful Flatiron building in downtown New York), goes as far as to describe the experience of finding an author whose book she would like to publish as “falling in love,” and states that as an editor “You’re the main supporter of this book. You’re the book’s person. There are a lot of people involved, but the first job of the editor is to make your own enthusiasm contagious. You want to get everybody just as excited as you are”

Assistant editors and editors, with their passion for good books, function as the backbone of the publishing industry. Yet, the publishing industry is much more than editors. For a broad overview of the publishing industry, its different departments, its big firms, and its broader work culture keep an eye out for the next edition of the CJW newsletter.   

Jonathan Hogan

Jonathan is a Second Year German and Government major. He works as a Career Peer Educator to assist students in the CJW and GLI career communities. In addition to professional development, Jonathan is interested in the cultural construction of the modern nation-state, normative constraints on rational behavior, and all things German. You can schedule an appointment with him here to improve your resume, learn more about the CJW and GLI career opportunities, and work on anything else professional development-related.

Works Cited

Bourne, Michael. “A Day in the Life of a Book Editor: Caroline Bleeke of Flatiron Books.” Poets & Writers, 19 Sept. 2018, www.pw.org/content/a_day_in_the_life_of_a_book_editor_caroline_bleeke_of_flatiron_books.

Miller, Corley. “What It’s like to Work in Publishing.” The Tab US, thetab.com/us/2016/06/07/like-work-publishing-15073.

Peterson, Valerie. “Major Departments in a Publishing House and What They Do.” The Balance Careers, 21 Oct. 2019, www.thebalancecareers.com/major-departments-in-a-publishing-house-2800046.