What is an Assignment (content commissioning)

Glossary > Assignment

💬 Definition of Assignment (content commissioning):

An assignment (or content commissioning) is an expression used when delegating content creation in exchange for a fee. It is mostly practiced by publishing houses or magazines for articles. The term commissioning relates to the amount of money paid for the work that freelance writers or content-creating agencies have done.

Related Questions about Assignment (content commissioning)

How do you become a commissioned writer?

There are two main ways to become a commissioned writer. Either you have an idea that you propose to a publishing house, and they buy into it, asking you to write it, or an editor approaches you to write a piece on a given subject for a fee. The latter is more common.

What does it mean to assign a manuscript?

This means that a publishing house devises the layout of a manuscript and assigns it to a writer. That being said, gone are the days when the editorial department sat around waiting for a manuscript. Business needs are met by devising book projects and having a go-getter attitude. Book ideas can spring from many places: authors, book events attended by publishers, discussions with authors (published or prospective), a trend, or an internal need. Publishing houses assign manuscript ideas to a writer to succeed in taking a book idea and turning it into a marketable product.

What is a commissioning editor?

A commissioning editor is responsible for creating the publisher’s book list. It is also the person that identifies potential writers to develop content fitting for specific themes or subjects in demand. They are responsible for negotiating contracts with agents or direct authors, monitoring the assignment’s progress to publication, and working with the editorial, marketing, and production departments. 

Commissioning editors need to be on top of the marketing trends, understand book market profitability, and be active contributors to the annual publishing plan. 

How much should you charge for an assigned piece?

Since all end figures are subject to private discussions between publisher and author, this is just  a market estimate of the fees for 2023. It also depends on the niche and the topic required, but freelance writers are reportedly invoicing between $250 - $400 for a 1500-word article, and many ask between $1000 - $3000 for a white paper.

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