Book editing jobs don’t all have the same job description
If you like to read books and want to pursue a career in editing, it makes sense to consider book editing jobs. When you start to look into this career path, you will find there are many kinds of book editing jobs. A book is written by its author, of course, but it is also the result of the work of many different editors. Take a moment to read through the different descriptions of book editing jobs to decide which specific position to aim for.
Among all the different types of book editing jobs, acquisitions editor is probably the cream of the crop. This is the job people may think of when the term “book editor” is used. The acquisitions editor is sometimes called the acquiring editor or developmental editor. Editors in these positions get to commission new books for the publishing houses they work for. This gives them a lot of power, and they can make or break writing careers. The acquisitions editor works closely with the author to develop a book. For nonfiction books, this involves outlining the topics that the book should cover as well as defining the chapters, establishing the order of those chapters, and working with the writer to specify the requirements for each chapter. In fiction, the acquisitions editor may ask for changes in the book’s plot or character development. Despite all the power and glamour, this can be the most stressful of book editing jobs. If a new book fails, the acquisitions editor’s job and reputation are at risk.
Someone working as a line editor is probably on his or her way up. This is the next step down from the acquisitions editor’s job and involves a lot of the more mundane tasks of editing a book, without the power and influence enjoyed by acquisitions editors. A line editor also has one of the least defined of book editing jobs. In some publishing houses, the line editor’s and acquisitions editor’s jobs are merged into one position. In larger companies, the acquisitions editor commissions books and deals with the authors, while the line editor is involved in behind-the-scenes work involving the requirements for the book and the assessment of the results.
Copy editing is probably the best way for non–book editors to get a foot in the door when looking for book editing jobs, and there are many resources available to help copy editors build their skillset and establish themselves in the industry. Copy editing for a book is not that different from copy editing for a magazine, newspaper, or website, so if you want to leverage your previous copy-editing experience, this is the position to aim for. As a copy editor, you will be checking the spelling, grammar, and consistency of the writing. You will also be looking for duplication and irrelevant passages that you can remove to tighten up the book.
Other book editing jobs
Typesetting and proofreading are two book editing jobs through which the publishing house has a last chance to see that errors get caught. Typesetters sometimes need to adjust text slightly in response to the layout. Proofreaders have to catch spelling and other mistakes in the final version of the book before it is sent to the printer.