Editorial Assistants help editorial staff to commission, plan and produce books, journals, magazines and websites. The work involves many tasks, including providing secretarial and administrative support to editors, and ensuring that deadlines are met.
Also known as
- Publishing Editorial Assistant
Video: - Ian: Assistant Editor
As an Editorial Assistant, you will help editorial staff to commission, plan and produce books, journals, magazines and websites. You'll also give secretarial and administrative support to Editors - this might include ordering supplies, answering the telephone and producing text documents.
Your duties could also include:
- finding freelance Writers and issuing contracts
- liaising with creative, editorial, production and marketing staff
- researching and selecting illustrations and pictures
- obtaining rights to use materials, such as photos, from other organisations
- proofreading manuscripts
- making sure that manuscripts are ready for typesetting
- uploading and archiving web content
- administration, such as photocopying and filing
- organising book launches
Sometimes you will need to write or rewrite headlines, captions, summaries and other content. You might also research content, check facts and help to plan new titles.
You will need good IT skills. As an Editorial Assistant working for an online publication you will usually need the ability to use a content management system; knowledge of HTML might also be useful.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become an Editorial Assistant, you'll need:
- good IT skills, and the ability to use a variety of software (e.g. photo editing or desktop publishing)
- good knowledge of grammar, spelling and punctuation
- organisational and time-management skills to meet deadlines
- patience and attention to detail when proofreading
- teamwork and interpersonal skills to work with a range of people, including Editors, Authors and Printers
- the ability to work under pressure and juggle several tasks at once
- good negotiation skills
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £23,500 - £24,500
- With experience: £25,500 - £30,500
- Senior Editorial Assistants earn £32,500
Freelance rates vary. You can find a useful guide to freelance rates on the website of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Hours of work
Editorial Assistants work 37.5 hours a week, from Monday to Friday, with occasional overtime to meet deadlines.
Where could I work?
Employers include magazine, book, trade press and website publishers, as well as companies running in-house magazines. There are also opportunities with professional bodies that publish journals.
Opportunities for Editorial Assistants occur in towns and cities throughout the UK. However, publishing companies are concentrated in London, the South East, Oxford and Cambridge.
Editorial Assistants can work as self-employed freelancers.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local, regional and national newspapers. There are also specialist job boards and recruitment agencies for the publishing industry. Also, many general job boards have an editorial or publishing jobs section.
Vacancies also appear on the 'Hold the Front Page' and 'Press Gazette' websites.
It's a good idea to build up a network of relevant contacts, as not all editorial jobs are advertised.
Making speculative job applications to potential employers can be useful in this industry.
Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.
Take a look at our General Information Article
Entry Routes and Training
As this is a competitive area, many Editorial Assistants enter as graduates. It can sometimes be possible for people to work their way up from secretarial and administrative posts in the publishing industry.
Training is usually on-the-job. Once in the industry, you might go on relevant courses or take professional qualifications offered by organisations such as the Publishing Training Centre at Book House (PTC), Professional Publishers Association (PPA) and the London School of Publishing (LSP).
Degree and postgraduate courses in publishing are available. Bath Spa University runs a foundation degrees in publishing: editorial, design and the web; this can allow you to progress onto a degree course.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
This is an entry-level career in publishing, and it's possible to progress into a wide range of roles, including Copy-Editor, Features Editor (in magazines), Commissioning Editor and Assistant Editor.
Previous experience working in a secretarial or administrative role in publishing companies would be an excellent way to get into this career.
Most entrants are graduates. You can usually enter with a degree in any subject, although to work in scientific, medical or technical publishing you might need a relevant degree.
For entry to a degree course in any subject, the usual minimum requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels
- 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
However, entry requirements vary considerably among courses. Equivalent qualifications, such as a BTEC level 3 qualification and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, might be acceptable for entry
Please check college/university websites very carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
This is an entry level career in publishing. Some entrants gain promotion from secretarial or administrative roles in publishing companies.
If you don't have the qualifications you need to enter a degree, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.
The Publishing Training Centre (PTC) runs distance learning courses in relevant skills, including proofreading, copy-editing and picture research. Editorial Training runs a proofreading course by distance learning.
The PTC provides limited financial assistance for some distance learning courses, on behalf of Unwin Charitable Trust.
Skills for the creative industries
Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills
Creative & Cultural Skills
Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts
Publishing Training Centre (PTC)
National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)
Professional Publishers Association (PPA)
Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)
London School of Publishing (LSP)
Women In Publishing (WiP)
Publishers Association (PA)
Press Gazette: Journalism Today
Hold the Front Page
NUJ Freelance Fees Guide
Society of Young Publishers (SYP)
Inside Book Publishing
Author: Giles Clark Publisher: Routledge