Commissioning Editor

Mid-Level // Editorial Department

What does a Commissioning Editor do?

A Commissioning Editor’s main job is to find new authors, books and ideas to publish. Their aim is to build up a publisher’s list with successful authors and books. A publishers ‘list’ just means the list of titles that they publish.

Commissioning Editors are involved with the project at each stage. They are the link between the proposal and the finished product.

Keeping up with trends and being able to predict their future is an important part of their role, helping them find new products and undiscovered markets. 

What is a Commissioning Editor good at?

  • Communication; efficiently working with their team and authors
  • Organisation; good at juggling lots of different tasks and ensuring projects are delivered on time 
  • Creativity; innovative, passionate about great storytelling and always on the look out for new authors

Who does a Commissioning Editor work with?

A Commissioning Editor usually reports to the publisher or editorial director and works closely with colleagues in different departments as well as building relationships with authors and agents.

How do I become a Commissioning Editor?

You would usually start out as an Editorial Assistant or another junior position in a publishing company and then gain more experience, possibly through a role such as Assistant Editor, before progressing into the role of Commissioning Editor.

If you want to work in general book publishing, you might think about studying humanities and social science disciplines, such as English and History, at university. If you are more interested in academic and educational publishing then you might study any number of academic disciplines.

You can also work your way up to this role without a university degree. There are editorial traineeships at various publishing companies and many publishers have recently introduced a Publishing Assistant apprenticeship, which would be a great place to start a career in editorial.

Short training courses with the Publishers Training Centre and Society for Editors and Proofreaders are also great ways to develop your skills.

Learn more about what it’s like to be a Commissioning Editor: