5 Skills You Need to Succeed in Editorial

Working in editorial is a high-stakes, high-reward environment. It’s one of the most competitive industries, with entry-level roles frequently snapped up fast – and with good reason, as they lead to senior positions like commissioning editors and managerial titles within the prestigious publishing world. And, as with most prestigious establishments, finding a way to get a foot in the door is hard.

Having a keen eye for detail, a tenacious attitude and a meticulous manner will help to build your number one tool in this tightly-packed industry: your reputation. So, you want to learn how to succeed in the editorial world? Keep reading to arm yourself with the skills to do just that.

Cast aside the movie stereotype

Do this in the beginning, and do this fast. Working in editorial won’t match up to the glamourous archetype as penned by The Devil Wears Prada – the hours are long, and the work is distinctly devoid of glitz and glamour.

Be prepared to run infinite errands, leaf through pages of manuscripts every hour, and be ready to read the good and the bad endlessly.

The rewards are there – they’re just not in the shape of this season’s Gucci loafer.

Have a steadfast attention to detail

In the publishing industry, attention to detail is paramount. If anything is pushed out with inaccuracies, whether that’s in grammar, spelling, or in actual factual content, it’s a huge red flag. Not just for you, but for your whole publishing house – earlier, when we said high-stakes, we meant it.

Matching your volume of work with an equally thorough eye can be hard, but it’s something that’ll see you through your career. Learn it in the beginning, and reap the fruits of your labour for the rest of your vocation in editorial.

Be willing to learn

It’s a phrase most of us repeat in job interviews, but sometimes we can be guilty of not perhaps giving the statement our whole heart.

In editorial, you need to lower your pride and listen to your superiors and support their way of working. It’s not the place to have an ego – you need to be an integrated member of the team, and never a diva.

Listen, learn, and absorb everything. It’s one of the best ways to grow in this industry.

Treat each day like it’s your first

The thing about editorial is that it’s always changing, evolving, and developing with each and every day. What worked for last season’s best-seller may not ring true for this term, meaning there’s no room for complacency.

You should have a vested interest in the industry and the world of literature, and this innate inquisitiveness will be your aid – so learn to harness it.

Continue to be curious about the world around you, and the works of literature that fill it. You are in an important role, and in a position that can help to dictate and shape the future of writing. Never underestimate it.

Remember that it’s just a job

It can seem that the work is never-ending, the deadlines too fast, and the time all too little. Remember that, even though it may seem like it some days, lives don’t depend on what you do.

As with any job, your superiors and peers are there to support you, so if you are struggling with your workload, speak up. You’ll get more respect for holding your hands up when you make a mistake than you ever will by keeping quiet about it.

It’s a rewarding industry, with a history steeped in stature. Enjoy your career in editorial, and give each day a boost by taking our tips to work with you to help you flourish.

Lucy Farrington-Smith writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs.


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