So You Want to Be an Editor? A New Editor’s Tips and Tricks for Breaking into the Publishing Industry

Hi there! Allow me to introduce myself (because let’s be honest, you’ve never heard of me). My name is Kayla Hechsel and I am the newest editor to join the Lerner Publishing Group editorial team.

I’m not new to Lerner or the publishing industry though. I was working as our Editorial Assistant for a year and half before being promoted to Assistant Editor. Working as an editor—primarily on picture books—has been, quite literally, a dream come true.

But it’s no secret that the publishing industry is notoriously difficult to break into.

For any hopeful editors out there, here are my tips and tricks for getting yourself into the publishing industry and working your way up to your dream job.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

Talk to people and be curious.

Talk to your mentors and professors. Talk to your parents. Even talk to the random second cousin you only see on Easter or the stranger sitting next to you on the bus. Find out what they do. Find out what they like about their jobs. And when they start talking, show your curiosity—ask questions! You never know how or when you could make a connection.

Think outside the box—explore other ways to get involved in the book world.

Books For Africa logo

At a college career fair, I met the executive director of Books For Africa, a non-profit company that donates books to Africa. I didn’t think I had any interest in non-profit work, but I was interested in Books For Africa’s mission and I was hired as their intern. The executive director later introduced me to Harry Lerner, Lerner Publishing Group’s founder and longtime supporter and contributor of Books For Africa, and that’s ultimately how I was hired as an Editorial Assistant. Lerner Publishing Group still donates to Books For Africa regularly.

Once You’ve Gained an Entry-Level Position


I came into the Editorial Assistant position thinking I was well read, but I wasn’t. Trying to suddenly learn the whole market for children’s publishing isn’t practical, so I started by reading as much of Lerner’s list as I could. Spending time in our library and familiarizing myself with our company’s product made all the difference.

Ask to do more.

Start with what interests you and ask questions. For example, I wanted to hone my copyediting and proofreading skills and I noticed we were freelancing a lot of it. I offered to take a stab at it, and now I’m responsible for copyediting and proofreading all the novels in our Darby Creek imprint. Taking on more responsibilities directly led to my promotion to Assistant Editor. This series—The Atlas of Cursed Places—started it all:

The Atlas of Cursed Places Darby Creek series for reluctant readers

And Once You’re In Your Dream Job, Remember This:

Lean on your colleagues.

Editing is hard, especially if you’re like me and don’t have years of experience. So talk to your colleagues. Ask them questions, pick their brains, and learn from them. When appropriate, even take the chance to get to know them personally. Having friends at work makes everything easier!

To learn more about working at Lerner Publishing Group, you can read employee Q&As here

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