A commissioning editor buys the work of authors, writers and journalists for publication.

What does a commissioning editor do?

Working for a publishing house or magazine, a commissioning editor commissions authors or journalists to write books or articles. Identifying trends and future markets, commissioning editors choose books and articles that they think will sell well. This job role can also involve developing ideas for new books and articles before identifying suitable authors and journalists to write them. 

What do I need to do to become a commissioning editor?

You will need to have a passion for reading and an ability to spot market trends. You’ll need to be able to communication with writers and explain what you want in detail. Organisational skills as well as an ability to manage budgets and keep to deadlines are also important.

This is a senior role, so most employers will expect you to have worked in publishing. You’ll usually start out as an editorial assistant and work your way up. There is a lot of competition for jobs, so you may find it useful to have a degree or possibly a postgraduate in publishing.​

If working for a specialist publishing house, it may also help if you have a degree in the relevant area, such as science or medicine.

You may be able to work your way up to commissioning editor by undertaking an apprenticeship in publishing and gaining experience as an editorial assistant.

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Financial planning
  • IT
  • Organisation
  • Time management

Academic route

  • GCSEs
  • A levels

Related subjects

  • English

Desirable qualifications

  • A degree in a related subject, such as journalism or English

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You might be working for a book publisher or magazine.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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