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book publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as books, newsp ...
, a commissioning editor is essentially a buyer. It is the job of the commissioning editor to advise the
publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as books, newsp ...
on which books to publish. Usually the actual decision of whether to contract a book is taken by a senior manager rather than the editor. Some magazines also employ commissioning editors.


Responsibilities

The other roles of commissioning editors vary between companies. Usually they are also responsible for ensuring that authors under contract deliver typescripts to specification and on time. They thus have an author management role. They usually have responsibility for ensuring that typescripts are of sufficient quality. In this, especially in textbook and reference publishing, commissioning editors may be assisted by development editors or assistant editors. Furthermore, in textbook companies, this role is responsible for managing title revisions, signing new authors, and ensuring products are profitable. In some (usually small) companies, commissioning editors are also responsible for overseeing the
copy-editing Copy editing (also known as copyediting and manuscript editing) is the process of revising written material to improve readability and fitness, as well as ensuring that text is free of grammatical and factual errors. ''The Chicago Manual of Style'' ...
, typesetting, proofreading, and design of books, although in other companies this responsibility is assumed by other staff e.g. Managing Editors, House Editors, and Production Editors. Commissioning editors are also often responsible for managing books that have already been published, for example by ensuring that stock levels are adequate and advising on when a book needs to be reprinted.


Commissioning process

Commissioning editors may commission in a number of ways: # pro-actively: by thinking of ideas for books and then finding authors to write them # reactively: by reacting to book proposals or manuscripts # collaboratively: by formulating ideas in dialogue with authors # by republishing previously published books # by co-publishing ("buying in") books being published elsewhere or in other editions by other companies


Role

Sometimes the phrase Acquisitions Editor is used. This is a near synonym for Commissioning Editor. Possibly the word "Acquisitions" implies more emphasis on types (4) and (5) above. Commissioning has not been formulated into a profession. There is little formal training available. Recently there has been some attempt in the UK to articulate and establish professional standards. Most commissioning editors work up to the post through experience in other roles e.g. Editorial Assistant. Some editors see the post as a stepping stone to a
senior management Senior management, executive management, upper management, or a management is generally individuals at the highest level of management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization An organization, or organisation ...
job (e.g. Publisher, Editorial Director, Publishing Director); others are content to remain in the post and to build a reputation as a star editor.


Qualities

There is little consensus on what makes good commissioning editors, though most people in the industry would agree that the following are desirable and important: * business acumen: understanding the market and the company's place in the market * creativity * linguistic sensitivity * communicativeness *
project management Project management is the process of leading the work of a team A team is a group of individuals (human or non-human) working together to achieve their goal A goal is an idea In common usage and in philosophy Philosophy (f ...
skills


References

The standard work on the subject is Gill Davies' ''Book Commissioning and Acquisition'' (Routledge). {{Journalism roles Book publishing Writing occupations Types of editors