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  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a telephone.  She is writing on a notepad.  There is a computer on the desk.

    Editorial assistants have to co-ordinate the work of writers, printers and designers.

  • A woman is standing next to a well-lit table.  Large sheets of paper lie on the table.

    Cutting up chromalin proofs.

  • A woman is placing a sheet of paper onto the glass plate of a photocopier.

    Editorial assistants carry out administrative tasks such as photocopying.

  • A man and a woman are sitting at a desk, talking.  They are both looking at a sheet of paper.

    Discussing deadlines with a writer.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer design package.

    Looking at the design for a book cover on the computer.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk.  She is looking carefully at a piece of paper.  There is a computer and telephone on the desk.

    Proofreading a manuscript before it is printed.

  • Editorial Assistant

Editorial Assistant

Introduction

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

Work Activities

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

Pay

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.

Self-employment

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 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

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

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 'Internships', for more details.

Progression

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.

Work Experience

Previous experience working in a secretarial or administrative role in publishing companies would be an excellent way to get into this career.

Qualifications

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.

Adult Opportunities

Skills/experience

This is an entry level career in publishing. Some entrants gain promotion from secretarial or administrative roles in publishing companies.

Courses

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.

Distance learning

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.

Funding

The PTC provides limited financial assistance for some distance learning courses, on behalf of Unwin Charitable Trust.

Further Information

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

Publishing Training Centre (PTC)

Email: publishing.training@bookhouse.co.uk

Website: www.train4publishing.co.uk

National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)

Email: info@nctj.com

Website: www.nctj.com

Professional Publishers Association (PPA)

Email: info@ppa.co.uk

Website: www.ppa.co.uk

Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)

Email: administrator@sfep.org.uk

Website: www.sfep.org.uk

London School of Publishing (LSP)

Email: enquiries@publishing-school.co.uk

Website: www.publishing-school.co.uk

Women In Publishing (WiP)

Website: www.womeninpublishing.org.uk

Publishers Association (PA)

Email: mail@publishers.org.uk

Website: www.publishers.org.uk

journalism.co.uk

Website: www.journalism.co.uk

Press Gazette: Journalism Today

Email: pged@pressgazette.co.uk

Website: www.pressgazette.co.uk

Hold the Front Page

Email: editor@htfp.co.uk

Website: www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk

NUJ Freelance Fees Guide

Website: www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.html

The Bookseller

Email: bookseller@escosubs.co.uk

Website: www.thebookseller.com

Publishing Scotland

Scottish enquiries

Email: enquiries@publishingscotland.org

Website: www.publishingscotland.co.uk

Society of Young Publishers (SYP)

Email: sypchair@thesyp.org.uk

Website: www.thesyp.org.uk

Bookcareers

Website: www.bookcareers.com

Inside Book Publishing

Author: Giles Clark Publisher: Routledge

Editorial Training

Email: info@edittrain.co.uk

Website: www.edittrain.co.uk

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