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Last updated on Jul 27, 2021

Editorial Assistant Jobs 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. 

Many of us have had that dream — but how do you get there? Where can you find editorial assistant jobs in New York? What skills would you need? Don’t worry, we’ve got some answers right here for you! 

What does an editorial assistant do?

Editorial assistant is an entry-level position at a publishing company. Depending on the size of the team and the nature of the position, an assistant will report to (and work directly with) a full-time editor at the press. 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. Still, being an editorial assistant puts you in a good position to learn the ropes and create connections that can take you far. 

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. With this route, you get to focus on the actual manuscript — the writing and the language — rather than having to go through the traditional training wheels process. 

But be warned: though starting with freelancing isn’t impossible, it won’t be easy. Publishers big and small do hire freelance copy editors and proofreaders to work on book projects since it’s more efficient that way! To prepare for that, here are some resources you might want to take a look at:

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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
  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.

How much do editorial assistant jobs pay?

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 and experience do you need?

Editorial Assistant Jobs | Job requirements

The important thing to note is that most editors will prize the “assistant” part of the job over the “editorial” part. Most of the time, they seem to be looking for candidates with:

  • Admin experience (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. 

Having a bachelor’s degree is definitely a plus, especially if it's in English, journalism, or communications. We mentioned that the industry is competitive: a degree can demonstrate your language abilities as well as your commitment to a rigorous program. Remember, it’s what you can do that matters the most when it comes to this job, not what qualifications you have. 

And as with any other industry, always research your employer before you go in. Look at your chosen imprint’s catalog, see what books they’re interested in, which voices they seem to favor, etc. This is both to get a taste of the job (knock on wood that you get it!) and to be informed — editors (even aspiring ones) should be on top of the latest updates in the industry! Use the knowledge you’ve gathered in your cover letter and interview to show your initiative.  

There you have it. Hopefully, you’ll now have a better idea whether the life of an editorial assistant in New York, NY is right for you. Work hard, work smart, and we’ll see you in the acknowledgments pages!

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– Originally published on Apr 06, 2020