Acquisitions Editor

Find promising manuscripts for your company to publish.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$29,000 – $97,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Acquisitions Editors do?

An Acquisitions Editor actually does very little editing. Although basic proofreading and grammar checks are part of the job, the main goal of an Acquisitions Editor is to hunt down books that you think will be big sellers. That’s why you spend your time analyzing the current market, predicting the next hot literary topic, and discovering new Writers.

As an Acquisitions Editor, you generally work for a publishing house, so your efforts bring in manuscripts, which are then published through your office. While some publishing houses allow unsolicited (i.e. not requested) manuscripts, an overwhelming number of these manuscripts are submitted each day, and the overall quality of this mass is generally poor. Given that a large bulk of poor quality material is less than desirable, most publishing houses refuse manuscripts that are not represented by a Literary Agent. Because of this, as an Acquisitions Editor you generally acquire your selections after a Literary Agents has vetted them. But even with this thinning of the pile, you could still receive thirty or more requests each day!

It’s then your job to wade through that pile, and decide which manuscripts are good enough to move forward with. But with your company gambling $50-100K per manuscript it takes on, you need to make this decision on more than a gut instinct. To help your gamble pay off, you scrutinize the market, trends, customer interests, and sales and then wager on what the next trend will be. Since it often takes two years for a book to hit the shelves, your eye is always fixed on the future.

Besides having great literary and market instincts, to be successful in this position you have to be networked in to the literary community. Other Editors, Writers, and Literary Agents all have your name in the Rolodex for when they feel they’ve found the next Stephen King.

Should I be an Acquisitions Editor?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Outside the Box Thinker: Your creative brainpower gets a workout as you come up with innovative ideas.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • How to become an Acquisitions Editor

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