How to Become a Book Editor
Putting Words Together Right
If you are someone who enjoys spending rainy weekends with a book or reading to your kids, you may enjoy a career as a book editor.
Book editors read for a living, evaluate what they read and work with writers to bring a manuscript to a high standard.
You are not likely to get rich as a book editor, but you will be able to support your family, and, even better, to instill in your kids an admiration for the written word.
Editors plan, review and revise written content for publication. A book editor is an editor who works for a book publisher. She is in charge of reviewing submitted material to find manuscripts that are a good fit for her publisher. She also works with the authors to pull together the final versions on time and error free.
Some careers require you that you walk a narrow, defined educational path, but book editors do not have this type of requirement.
However, you may need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a subject dealing with written communications, such as English, journalism or the like. Moreover, this type of college curriculum can help you learn to be a better reader, writer and editor. You also should be proficient with a computer.
Many book editors start out as writers. While in high school and college, get experience by editing the school’s newspaper or yearbook.
Your school may offer internships at magazines, newspapers or book publishers. These are excellent since you will not only get firsthand experience in the industry but have the chance to build connections.
Once you graduate, apply for an entry-level editing or writing position. From there, you can apply to become a book editor. Advancement in the field usually comes through promotion.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), editors, in general, earn a median pay of $63,400 per year. “Median” means that half of the editors monitored make more than this, and half make less.
Editors (all types) earnings in 2020:
- Top 10% earn above $126,800 per year
- Median earns $63,400 per year ($30.48 per hour)
- Bottom 10% earn below $33,620 per year
Book editors usually work for book publishers. Other editors can work for different types of publishers, including:
- and online internet publications.
Median Editor Salaries by Industry:
- Religious, grant-making, civic, professional, and similar organizations: $71,520
- Other information services: $69,460
- Professional, scientific, and technical services: $69,150
- Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers: $58,260
Years of Experience
In book editing, your salary rises as you put years in the field and gain experience. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for an editor is $49,000.
Those just entering the field should expect about 16 percent less. Once you reach mid-career, you’re likely to see your wages rise to some 8 percent above average.
Experienced book editors can command a salary 20 percent above the average, while in late career, you can earn 28 percent above the average.
Most book editors receive health insurance, while many get dental and vision coverage.
Job Growth Trend
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for all types of editors, including book editors, is expected to grow by 5 percent over the next decade.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.