What Writers Should Know About Editorial Staff Positions

Figuring Out Where to Send Your Pitch

Woman reading newspaper
webphotographeer / E+ / Getty Images

Many freelancer writers know that they should check out the Writer's Market when deciding which editor to contact when sending out a piece of their work once they've targeted a specific publication. But life happens, and jobs and titles change, especially in the evolving world of publishing.

Understanding editorial staff titles will help you beat out the competition when figuring out where to send your query.

Keep in mind that many of these titles are fluid. The job itself, along with the responsibilities assigned, often vary depending on the company.

Acquisitions Editor

An Acquisitions Editor is in charge of acquiring content. Unless more specific information is available on the masthead or the publication's website, this is the editor you want to query. This title is more commonly associated with the book publishing industry, but many of the larger magazines also have an editor specifically responsible for acquisitions.

Articles Editor

This editor is the editor directly in charge of content and may be the editor responsible for fielding queries. Generally speaking, the Articles Editor ensures a uniform reading experience and adherence to themes or house style for the magazine's articles.

Assignment Editor

More commonly associated with news writing, an Assignment Editor dispenses writing and investigative assignments and/or takes care of coverage issues.

This editor is not likely to read or respond to queries in a magazine setting.

Assistant Editor

The editor who holds this position supports and assists other editors. Their responsibilities vary widely depending on the publication and can range from clerical chores all the way up to performing the same tasks as an Associate Editor.

This editor may or may not be able to respond to queries.

Associate Editor

This is a mid-to-upper-level editorial staff member who supports the Managing Editor or Editor-in-Chief and handles the nuts and bolts of the daily operation of a magazine. This editor is likely to be responsible for responding to freelance pitches.

Contributing Editor/Editor at Large

This position belongs to a high-ranking (and usually well-known) writer/contributor who has written for the magazine multiple times. Because this person is generally not on staff, they are not in a position to accept your query.​

Department/Features Editor

This is an editor that is in charge of one department, or recurring section or column, in the magazine, especially in larger publications. This editor may be able to respond to pitches if they're targeted to their particular department.

Executive Editor/Editor-in-Chief

This head honcho is concerned with the overall product of the magazine, and may also be involved in the business/financial side of the magazine. Therefore, they are not appropriate editors to query. An exception is smaller publications (such as local magazines or newspapers), where the Editor-in-Chief is more involved in the day-to-day editorial content of the publication.

Managing Editor

This is the person in charge of the daily operations of the publication. In some magazines, the Managing Editor is likely to accept and deal with queries and pitches.