Whether you’re looking for a magazine writing job or pitching an article idea, you’ll find this list of editors and writers helpful. Magazine editorial staff ranges from the editor-in-chief to the editorial assistant — and both jobs contain their share of joy and pain!
Here’s a taste of what a magazine editor-in-chief can do:
“Not long ago, Canada’s oldest women’s magazine seemed headed for irrelevance,” wrote Robert Fulford in Toronto Life in August, 2003. “Under Rona Maynard, however, Chatelaine has been transformed from a glamour and celebrity magazine into a ‘personal empowerment vehicle.’ Today, after 75 years, it’s thriving as never before.”
Rona Maynard was in charge when Chatelaine was dubbed the most financially successful magazine in Canada. She gave it a facelift that included a perkier bottom line – but only after struggling with depression, family problems, and a nasty taste in her mouth from her previous editorial job at Maclean’s.
The road from editorial intern or assistant to editor in chief can be a tough row to hoe — but it also can be incredibly rewarding! Here’s a list of magazine writing jobs for writers and editors…
Magazine Editorial Staff – Writers and Editors
Book publishing companies have a similar hierarchy: editor in chief, managing editor, senior/associate/assistant/specialty editors, and editorial assistants.
Editor-in-Chief or Editor
The editor in chief of a magazine is responsible for the editorial content of the magazine. Like a CEO, the editor in chief delegates many responsibilities to other staff at the magazine. If you’re a freelance writer, you wouldn’t normally pitch an article idea to the editor-in-chief (though I have been known to!). As far as job experience goes, editors-in-chief have probably experienced every type of magazine writing job imaginable, from managing editor to editorial intern.
The managing editor reports directly to the editor in chief, and supervises the daily activities of the magazine. The managing editor supervises the staff writers and freelance writers – and is the editor you should pitch your freelance article ideas to! Managing editors also write and edit special projects and feature articles, and can have at least one assistant editor who reports to him or her.
Senior, Associate, Assistant, or Specialty Editors
The number and type of senior, associate, assistant, or specialty editors depends on the size and type of the magazine. These editors may double as staff writers – a typical way to start a writing career at a publication or book publisher, whether it’s a trade magazine or a startup ezine – and are often specialists in a certain field (eg, beauty editor, travel editor, etc). These staff writers or editors also do some copyediting.
If you want a writing career in the glamorous magazine publishing industry, you’ll probably have to start out as an editorial assistant (or an editorial intern, which isn’t typically a paid position). These are entry level positions, which can involve staff writing and editing. The exact duties of editorial assistants depend on the publication or book publishing company.
Different magazines assign different duties to the managing editors, senior editors, editorial assistants, and editorial interns – depending on the size, budget, and type of magazine. If you want a writing career, it’s important to remember that you have to start on the bottom rung, especially now (many print magazines are struggling financially).
If your dream is to work as a writer, read Writer Job Description – Career Tips for Writers and Freelancers.
And, heed Maynard’s advice to writers:
“Protect the dreaming, aspiring part of yourself,” says Maynard. “It’s the keeper of all your strength, all your wisdom. Don’t undermine it with busy work.”
If you want to work in the writing and editing business, you may find the book Careers for Writers & Others Who Have a Way with Words by Bob Bly helpful.
For tips on freelancing for magazines, read Writing as a Career – Who Else Wants to Get Paid for Writing?
Are you looking for a job on a the editorial staff of a magazine? I welcome your thoughts and questions below…
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello and share your thoughts below. If not, go well....and don't forget to come back! :-)