How to Become a

Book Publisher Editor

The complete career guide to be a Book Publisher Editor: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $64,910
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -5.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

A book publisher editor, also known as an acquisitions editor, is primarily responsible for selecting books for publication. After selecting books, editors suggest edits to authors, work with authors to make sure deadlines are hit, and work with marketing and publicity teams to promote their products widely.

Recommended Schools

What is a Book Publisher Editor?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in book publisher editor roles:

  • Receive and read manuscripts and book proposals to discover books worth publishing
  • Provide editing suggestions to authors before books are accepted for publication
  • Cultivate relationships with authors, many of whom will work with the same editor for their entire careers
  • Work with marketing teams, book stores, libraries, and other outlets to promote authors and books and ensure books are stocked and available for sale

A Day in the Life of a Book Publisher Editor

Book publisher editors spend most their time reading manuscripts submitted for review from various sources. At times, they will have a completed book to read in order to make a decision on whether or not to publish a manuscript; other times, they will have only a proposal for a book and a sample chapter. An acquisition editor’s success is determined by how many books they’ve discovered and published that receive high sales, so the ability to discover proposals and books with high potential is critical.

While a copy or assistant editor is usually responsible for proofreading books and ensuring text and designs are ready for printing, the book publisher editor is responsible for higher-level edits. These edits usually consist of major changes the author needs to make: adding additional chapters, rethinking the ending, or transforming a book into a series or trilogy. As such, acquisition editors must be able to do more than just identify good books; they must truly understand their audiences and markets.

Authors usually work with the same editor for their entire careers and tend to follow editors through job changes, so it’s important for book publisher editors to maintain good relationships with authors. Many times, getting a higher-paying job is a matter of proving how many top-selling authors you’ll bring with you to a new publisher, so book publisher editors must have good people skills. Additionally, they may need to work with bookstores, libraries, and other sellers to promote books and get them stocked.

Typical Work Schedule for Book Publisher Editors

Most book publisher editors work normal dayshift, weekday hours. However, they may need to put in some overtime near publication deadlines to ensure new books are properly printed and distributed.

Book Publisher Editor Specializations

  • Acquisition editors are responsible for reading proposals and manuscripts, choosing books and authors to publish, and working with authors across their careers to promote old books and sign contracts to write new books.
  • Assistant editors work under book publisher editors and assist with assigned tasks. Assistant editors are often responsible for doing a first read of manuscripts, passing promising books on to the acquisitions editor, and discarding unacceptable works.
  • Copy editors proofread books, make minor wording, spelling, and grammar changes, and ensure works display properly before being printed.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Intern, Assistant Editor, Copy Editor
  • Mid-Career: Acquisitions Editor
  • Late Career: Publisher

Typical Employers

Most book publisher editors work for the big four book publishers: Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Hachette Livre. However, acquisitions editor positions are also available at smaller publishing houses and independent book publishing companies.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Book Publisher Editor

Book publisher editors will need to have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree to pursue relevant positions. Many acquisitions editors choose to pursue language, literature, creative writing, or journalism degrees. However, most acquisitions editors work in a specific genre, so in some cases it may make more sense to pursue a degree relevant to the genre you want to work in. Individuals interested in publishing textbooks topics may pursue degrees in education instead of writing- or literature-focused degrees.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, becoming an acquisitions editor is mostly a matter of getting your foot in the door and working your way up the ladder. Few individuals are hired right out of college for acquisitions editor positions. Instead, they start as interns, proofreaders, and assistant editors. Over time, they gain the experience needed to work as acquisitions editors and prove their abilities to their employers, and only then are they able to successfully secure book publisher editor positions.

While graduate education is generally not required to work as an acquisitions editor, some colleges and universities offer graduate and certificate programs in book publishing that allow for introductions of students to local publishing companies. For individuals struggling to secure roles at publishing companies, a graduate certificate or degree program that offers networking opportunities or promises internships may be worth pursuing in order to secure desired positions with book publishers.

Book Publisher Editor Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Book Publisher Editor salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Book Publisher Editor's can make an average annual salary of $64,910, or $31 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $39,690 or $19 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #229 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Book Publisher Editor. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Book Publisher Editors

  • 4.7%   Doctorate
  • 19.3%   Masters
  • 59%   Bachelors
  • 4.3%   Associates
  • 9.1%   College
  • 3.1%   High School
  • 0.5%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Book Publisher Editor job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -6,200 jobs for a total of 111,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -5.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #703 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Book Publisher Editors

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Newspaper publishers 19,400 -6,700 -7%
Self-employed workers 15,900 500 1%
Other information services 6,700 1,000 1%

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