Book editors come from a variety of educational backgrounds, although most are liberal arts graduates with degrees in English, communications, or journalism. If you major in a non-liberal arts field (like biochemistry or economics) you should ensure that you get experience in writing and editing.
The most valuable experience for editorial jobs best comes from internships with other publishing firms or positions at small nonprofit, college, association, or online publications where you have opportunity to write a lot and to edit other people's writing. Getting a good internship often requires that you have worked on the campus magazine, newspaper, or yearbook, preferably in a responsible editorial position.
Extracurricular activities that involve writing and editing are also valuable, as are any part-time positions that involve the business side of publishing. Jobs at bookstores, for instance, can teach more than you might think about how the retail part of the publishing industry works. And read as much as you can; stay current with what's hot in the market.
Marketing majors are useful for prospective book marketers, although English, journalism, and communications concentrations are more common. Courses in public relations are especially helpful.
Experience in handling publicity is extremely useful, as is any general marketing experience involving writing marketing copy, buying advertising, and/or working with retailers. Event management is also useful; try to get involved in running book signing events, handling speakers, etc. Participation in student chapters of the Public Relations Society of America is another great way to get professional experience and exposure.
Art and design programs give a solid foundation in the principles of graphic design and typography. You should also work in production for a college publication (newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, etc.) Consider the MFA in photography or illustration.
Any work that will help you to fill out your portfolio is useful training for a graphic arts production job. These days you need fluent mastery of digital tools, so get experience with design software, scanners, and digital cameras wherever you can. Use your college's computer lab, download and experiment demo software, or spend some time at Kinko's, but get this experience under your belt and have examples of your layout and artwork to show.
Feel free to play with these digital tools but remember that portfolio items should be more practical in nature. Any familiarity you can gain with printing terminology and processes by working at printing firms or copy shops doesn't hurt either.
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