Also known as acquiring or commissioning editors, acquisitions editors are responsible for reviewing manuscripts, commissioning authors for specific publications, and deciding whether a manuscript is marketable. They are the headhunters of the literary world.

Acquisitions editors’ skills can be learned, but truly successful editors have an intuition that separates them from average editors. Intuition is the ability to not only discern what is popular in the market, but to foresee what the next big thing is. This aspect is not something that can be learned.


Acquisition editors recruit new, independent, or already established authors to work with the company. Their responsibility is to work with the publishing house to acquire new material for publication. Acquisition editors also pitch the prospective works to the rest of the editorial staff for approval to advance the editing process.

The job of an acquisitions editor can involve the following functions:

  • Soliciting: Bringing in submissions to be evaluated
  • Evaluating: Reading manuscripts and deciding which ones would be viable publishing options
  • Purchasing: Negotiating a deal with an agent, author, or author’s legal representation to purchase the rights to a book
  • Editing: Working with the author, correcting the manuscript, and making suggestions to prepare a book for release

Salary and Benefits

Acquisitions editors are also known as commissioning editors and make $65,000 to $80,000 as a starting point. Additionally, based on the individual publishing house and performance, there is a chance of receiving a bonus.

Education and Skills

There are several ways to become an acquisitions editor. The best process is slow, but steady. Along the way, you will meet helpful colleagues, learn new techniques, and collect all the possible knowledge to prepare you for the world of acquisitions editing.

Below are some tips for becoming a successful acquisitions editor:

  • Begin at the Bottom: You will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in English. Begin your career work at a publishing house as an apprentice, bringing in submissions to be evaluated.
  • Find a Mentor: Research publishing houses where you would like to work, and single-out a few acquisitions editors you would like to work with. Ask to be their apprentice. After a few months, look at possible permanent positions and request a stipend.
  • Work as a Literary Agent: This job is very similar to the acquisitions editor. You will need more experience to develop a keen eye for choosing bestsellers and to learn the popular market trends.
  • Get Some Freelance Work: If you cannot apprentice with an acquisitions editor, then freelance is a good option. While freelancing, you may help startup authors perfect their book before selling it to a publishing house.
  • Start a Small Publishing House: Start your own small publishing business, and print novels on an on-demand basis. This way, you will help authors publish their work while you are making a name for yourself in the publishing world. You will prove your worth and use this experience as proof to your future employers that you are capable of being successful in the field.
  • Advertise: Advertising yourself is the most important aspect of the entire process. Write every day about your progress and the authors you have worked with, and post your experiences online or try to have them published in magazines or newspapers. Networking is very important in the publishing industry.

Current Topics

The rise and accessibility of ebooks and ereaders have caused the publishing industry to evolve. Newspaper headlines about ebook sales being up and print sales being down are nothing new, although research indicates that consumers are not completely abandoning print books in favor of the latest technology. Avid readers continue to split their purchases between the two formats.

Consumers desire books that are formatted to best suit their needs. Certain genres, such as children’s books and cookbooks, remain very popular in print format. At this point, hardcover and paperback books are still serving the purpose for these two genres, and readers will not make the switch to a digital medium until the advantages of ebooks and ereaders surpass those of paper books. As technology advances, the publishing industry continues to adapt to satisfy readers.


Acquisitions Editor Salary graph

Acquisitions editor in the field of psychology

Tips for becoming a successful aquisitions editor

Successful traits and guidelines for becoming an acquisitions editor