“Challenging. Exciting. Inspiring.”
Being part of The Scheme means spending time learning the ropes of what it is to be an editor.
So what’s that really like?
Let’s lift the lid and hear from our editors themselves what life is like behind the scenes…
Meet Henry, Senior Commissioning Editor for Transworld.
You’re a Senior Commissioning Editor. Tell us what exactly that means?
I discover, pitch for and buy a broad range of non-fiction, from gift and humour titles to autobiographies to books on popular culture, history, science and current affairs. I spend most of my time working closely with authors, agents and colleagues to develop new projects, and seeing existing ones through to publication.
Sum up what it’s like to work in your team in three words.
Challenging. Exciting. Inspiring.
Share with us a project you’re proud of.
There are many, but John Sweeney’s North Korea Undercover stands out because we published into the media storm surrounding John’s BBC Panorama documentary on the country. In the book, John puts forward various proposals for combating the regime by empowering the North Korean people and equipping them with the tools for free and independent thought. It’s hugely satisfying to see that at least one of his suggestions – a BBC North Korean radio service – is being considered.
What’s the one book you wish you’d published and why?
I would love to have published Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note, a remarkable and important book that has completely revived our interest in letter writing. It’s a collection of over one hundred of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the website of the same name.
What was your biggest surprise about working in publishing?
I was amazed by the amount of energy and effort that goes into every single book we publish, and the number of people involved. A book doesn’t stop at editorial, we work with Marketing, Publicity, Rights, Sales, Digital, Production and more besides to get a book into the hands of a consumer. It’s a huge enterprise and a very collaborative process.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Variety. One day I might be editing a manuscript on the rise of ISIS, the next looking at the paper engineering for a Game of Thrones pop-up book, and the day after that I might be on a photoshoot with Bear Grylls.
What’s the worst thing?
Most of the books we acquire come via literary agents, who will send a proposal or manuscript out to a number of publishers who will then in turn bid for the rights to turn it into a book. There is nothing more frustrating than losing a book you love to another publisher at auction.
What one piece of advice do you wish you’d been given when you started out in editorial?
Get to know your colleagues in every department, and understand what they do. This will inform your understanding of the whole publishing process and the role you play within it.