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What is a description of the lifestyle and typical workday for an editor at a publishing company?

I want to be an editor, and would love to learn about what it is like to work as an editor for a publishing company. I am aware that many of the major publishing companies are located in New York City, so I am interested in learning more about life as an editor in New York! #english #editing #editor #lifestyle #publishing #english-grammar #text-editing #story-editing


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Allison’s Answer

Each day as an editor is different. I describe my job in three parts: acquiring manuscripts for publication (which means reading tons of manuscripts, meeting with agents, and pitching the books in a series of meetings to different people in my department); editing (from big-picture content edits to line editing before I send it off to the copyeditor; a lot of this honestly happens during evenings, weekends, and the occasional work-from-home day); and coordinating with other departments (meetings and strategizing with the folks in marketing, publicity, production, managing editorial, rights, and design, and my publisher). I work in children's book publishing, so on any given day I could simultaneously be working on both books for babies and issue-driven novels for older teens, and I'm also working on several seasons and stages of production at once.

As an editorial assistant (and then assistant editor), where you will spend 2-6 years, your job is to assist on your boss's list (the books she acquires and edits). You will likely also need to perform a host of administrative tasks including answering her phone, arranging meetings and travel, etc, and you'll also read a lot of submissions on her behalf.

New York is a very expensive city and editor salaries (especially at entry level) are not high. That said, it is doable, especially if you get roommates and don't have student debt. I encourage everyone to think hard about whether the perks (free books, meeting authors, working with really exceptional people) outweigh the downsides (low pay, long hours, getting stuck at assistant level for a very long time). There is a great community of junior staff in the city, so I have found I can find other people who want to socialize on a budget.

You should absolutely try to intern before you graduate. Your next best bet (or something to do simultaneously) is working in a bookstore or library. I also encourage you to explore departments outside of editorial -- editorial is insanely competitive, and other jobs in publicity, marketing, rights, sales, and managing ed (copyediting) can be fulfilling for many people as well.


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Mark’s Answer

Hi Kara,
You're correct, you should take a look at New York to decide how to live there day by day. How to pay your monthly bills. Regarding editors and publishing companies, I'd suggest that you take a look at Twitter and Facebook. I'm not certain how newspapers are doing, except the New York Times, Washington Post, SF Chronicle and Chicago Tribune might still be selling enough. At Twitter, you could start with the literary editors, such as Whitney Davis. Also, Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books might be a good choice. Best wishes.


Thanks so much, I'll definitely check out those editors. Kara G.

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