Considering Your Career Choices: Types of Editor Positions

Editor reviewing document at computer

Do you appreciate the details of a well-written sentence? Does the sight of a poorly-constructed paragraph make you feel compelled to correct it? Consider pursuing a professional editing position. Any one of the following editing positions would allow you to fuel your love of the written word while earning a comfortable living.

Editorial Assistant

There are many ways to get into editor jobs, but the most common way to start is by seeking an entry-level position after graduating with a BA. Many editors start out as editorial assistants in publishing houses. This entry-level position will enable you to learn the business and make important contacts in the industry.

Editorial assistants perform a great deal of administrative work, such as handling the office’s correspondence, fielding questions from authors and managing scheduling. Trusted editorial assistants may perform industry-specific tasks such as reading manuscripts and supplying feedback to editors.

Beta Reader

Another way to gain a foothold in book publishing is to become a beta reader. Many beta readers do their work voluntarily, but some are paid freelance editors or employees. Either way, it is an important opportunity to build your resume and gain valuable experience evaluating manuscripts.

Beta readers read unpublished manuscripts and offer thoughtful critique. Rather than proofreading, beta readers typically offer guidance on clarity, plot progression, character development and other important aspects of the manuscript.

Acquisitions Editor

The acquisitions editor is responsible for acquiring promising manuscripts for a publishing house’s imprint. Like a brand, an imprint is a style shaped by the material a publishing house accepts. These types of editors review manuscripts and select the ones which seem marketable and match a desired imprint.

Acquisitions editors need a keen eye for promising manuscripts and a good grasp on crunching numbers. They must work with authors, graphic illustrators, designers and printers to calculate the estimated cost of producing a given book. They also work with the marketing team to develop a forecast for marketing costs and sales potential.

If the book appears commercially viable, the acquisitions editor brings the proposal to the board for approval. If the board approves the project, the acquisitions editor will work with the author to negotiate contracts and move the project forward.

Developmental Editor

Developmental editors often work within a publishing house, but some are freelancers. These editing positions focus on the “big picture” of a manuscript. They evaluate the entire structure of a manuscript, find problem areas and suggest improvements. A developmental editor might do any of the following:

  • Find plot holes and plot progression problems
  • Point out inconsistencies from one part of the book to the next
  • Evaluate character development
  • Check whether a character’s dialogue style is consistent throughout the book
  • Evaluate the organization of the book
  • Determine whether any crucial information is missing

Some developmental editors work with authors the conception of a book idea to its completion, while others begin work on the project when the first draft is completed. Developmental editors often serve as writing coaches, providing guidance when the writer gets stuck.

Copy Editors

Publishing companies hire in-house copy editors, though many copy editors are freelance editors. These editors may work on any form of content, including books, journal or magazine submissions, digital content or commercial social media posts.

A copy editor is responsible for ensuring that content is optimized for clarity, style and tone. These professionals also ensure adherence to style guidelines. Copy editors may improve sentence structure, transitions, grammar, syntax and punctuation. Some copy editors are also responsible for fact-checking. For example, if a manuscript references a medication name, the copy editor will look up the name to ensure correct spelling.

Successful copy editors have an excellent eye for detail. They focus on minute details for lengthy periods of time and have an extensive knowledge of grammar. Copy editors are expected to know many writing styles, such as Associated Press and Chicago Style.

Production Editor

Production editors typically work in an office setting, overseeing staff involved in the publication process of a publishing house. These editors tend to manage multiple projects and have a high amount of responsibility. Production editors may keep records of expenses, negotiate contracts with freelancers, communicate with writer and editors, and directly proofread content to ensure that a publication meets its deadline.

Online Photo Editor

Not every editing position has to do with text. Those with experience in photography can become photo editors. A photo editor’s job duties depend on where they work, but they may identify photography needs for the publishing house, review photographs for publication, and manage multiple staff members involved in photography.

Managing Editor

A managing editor oversees all operations of a publication or website. This includes activities like managing staff, preparing content, commissioning stories and overseeing expenses. The specific work that a managing editor changes with the needs of each project, making this position especially important for a successful publishing house.


Proofreading is the last step in the editing process. Proofreaders get their hands on a manuscript after it has already gone through developmental and copy editing. Their job is to scrutinize details to ensure that there are no mistakes. Proofreaders are not responsible for ensuring consistent plot or characterization. Instead, they are primarily concerned with accuracy in spelling, punctuation and text style.

If you aspire to become a professional editor, then you can build an academic foundation for success when you enroll in at Grand Canyon University. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences provides an enriching, writing-intensive curriculum through its Bachelor of Arts with an Emphasis in Professional Writing degree program. To learn more, visit our website or click on the Request More Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.