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Last updated on Dec 27, 2021

Becoming an Editorial Assistant in NYC: Duties, Salary, Requirements

Landing an editorial assistant job in NYC is the logical, if not desirable, first step on a career path that leads to becoming an editor. It’s the typical tale of starting small, with making copies and fixing coffees, and working towards something big, like editing numerous best sellers. 

But what exactly does this position entail? Where can you find editorial assistant jobs in New York and what skills would you need? We’ve got some answers right here for you. 

What does an editorial assistant do?

An editorial assistant is an entry-level position at a publishing company in which you report to a full-time editor and help them out in reading manuscript submissions and liasing with other professionals like literary agents, designers, and marketers. Most of your regular tasks will be for the purpose of letting an editor do their job. Consider it a warning now: you’ll do more administrative work than actual editing.

To give you a better idea of what the job involves, we pored through dozens of job listings and have split the expected tasks into three categories:

Admin duties

Assisting duties

Editorial duties

  • Setting the editor’s schedule (who often work on a few projects at once)
  • Arranging travel
  • Managing expenses
  • Answering phone calls
  • Sorting mail
  • Communicating with authors, agents, and other departments
  • Compiling sales reports
  • Maintaining acquisition documents
  • Directing manuscripts through the production process
  • Keeping track of projects currently in production
  • Writing cover/flap copies and catalog copies
  • Evaluating proposals and pitches to see which one makes it to the editor
  • Reading full manuscripts that the editor doesn’t have time to read and writing reader’s reports 

As you might have already guessed, the more you prove your abilities, the further to the right of the table your responsibilities will be. 

Is being an editorial assistant your only entry point into publishing?

Not necessarily. Being an editorial assistant, or getting an entry-level position, at a publishing house is the popular traditional pathway into publishing. But with the growth of the lean publishing industry, you can find other opportunities in freelancing.

Not only do publishers hire freelance copy editors and proofreaders on a project-by-project basis, but so do self-publishing authors. Working freelance with authors themselves, you get to focus on the actual manuscript — the writing and the language — rather than having to go through the traditional training wheels process.

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Freelancing from the get-go is not an easy route to embark on, but if you have the necessary skills, you will find suitable opportunities. You can also check out some of our resources to level-up your skills:

Where can you find editorial assistant jobs in NYC?

Now if you’re still eager to take go on the search for editorial assistant jobs to apply to then here we go! The good news is that New York publishers tend to advertise their jobs in all the expected places, so signing up to a few job sites is always a solid way to start your search. You can try some of the big job listing websites, such as:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Indeed.com
  3. ZipRecruiter
  4. SimplyHired
  5. Mediabistro
  6. Monster
  7. Glassdoor
  8. Publishers Marketplace
  9. Bookjobs
  10. The Write Jobs
  11. Publisher Weekly JobZone
  12. Bertelsmann’s Create Your Own Career  
  13. Twitter

Note: Most job sites let you save job alerts after you join, to keep up to date on particular searches. Simply save “editorial assistant jobs NYC” as an alert, and they’ll email you all the newest listings.

Before you say anything, we know Twitter is not actually a job board, but nowadays, with so many editors on site, it might as well be one. Follow some in-house editors who specialize in your favored niche and you’ll be sure to hear of vacancies the moment they are posted! The publishing industry is so Twitter-savvy that this tactic would work for many different jobs, from editing to ghostwriting to book illustration.  

And of course, if you’ve got a dream publisher in mind, it never hurts to peruse their internal careers page, either.

What do editorial assistants get paid?

According to ZipRecruiter’s stats, the average salary for this position in NYC is $41,000 as of July 2021. Opening salaries for this position can be a lot lower... but will rarely go any higher. First-time assistants are rarely in a position to negotiate, but you should be wary of any offer below $32,000, as NYC’s minimum wage is $15/hour.

What skills do you need to be an editorial assistant?

Editorial Assistant Jobs | Job requirements

To become an editorial assistant, you should follow the steps of applying to any job out there:

  • Get some training, preferably a bachelor's degree, as proof of your competence; 
  • Search for vacancies on the job boards listed above; 
  • Send your desired employers a polished CV and cover letter; and
  • Answer questionnaires and interviews per each publisher's requirement.

Be sure to pick a publisher that you're actually interested in, with a catalog you care about. Oftentimes, recruiters will ask you to talk about books in the same genre to see how much you know about and care for the market. 

While you prepare for these steps, pay careful attention to highlighting certain skills that are expected of editorial assistants — be aware that publishers tend to prize the “assistant” part of the job over the “editorial” part. Some useful skills to include are: 

  • Administrative work (in dealing with paperwork, basic MS Office apps);
  • Organizational skills; 
  • Proactivity and enthusiasm;
  • Coordination and communication skills for working in a team. 

In other words, experiences in newsrooms (even if it's your university's), magazines, and other paperwork-heavy offices tend to be good. 

If you have these skills and can present them effectively, you'll have a good chance at getting an editorial assistant job in NYC. Work hard, work smart, and we’ll see you in the acknowledgments pages!


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– Originally published on Apr 06, 2020