My Inside Story - Editorial Non-Fiction

My Inside Story: Editorial, Non-Fiction


17 Jul 2017

Meet Cameron! Cameron is one of our Editorial Assistants in Hodder & Stoughton. Cameron completed a Creative Access internship with us before starting his current role in March this year. He gave us an insight into his experience of working in Editorial so far…

How did you end up in your current role with Hodder & Stoughton and what do you look after?

I started a short internship in the sales and marketing department of a smaller, independent publisher as soon as I finished university. I was then able to use the experience that I gained from my time there to get a 6-month internship in the Hodder general non-fiction team through Creative Access, which turned into a permanent job. I work on the lists of two editors and perform various admin-related tasks for the publishing director.

What do you do in a typical day as Editorial Assistant?
A typical day as an Editorial Assistant will involve at least a few of the following tasks: writing cover copy and title information sheets, briefing cover artwork, arranging and taking minutes for meetings, finding proofreaders and copyeditors for manuscripts and dealing with any queries in-house and from agents or authors. Because of the nature of the job role and the range of books we work on in our team, no one day is the same – which is one of the things I love about working here. You can never be sure about what activities the day will bring.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the variety that comes with working for editors who publish a range of different books. I get to work on a varied list of non-fiction titles ranging from history, travel and politics through to celebrity memoirs and autobiographies dealing with important issues. Every book is different and each brings with it different challenges and things to learn about the author and what they are writing about.

What is the biggest challenge when working as an editorial assistant? 
Deadlines! Not only are there a lot of them, but they also tend to move around a lot. Editorial Assistants, like most people in other departments in publishing, are constantly working on a number of different projects and tasks at once. Prioritising the right project and making sure tasks are completed on time can sometimes feel a bit like spinning plates! But things always tend to work out, and there’s the satisfying pay-off at the end when you realise you’ve helped produce a great book for people to read and enjoy.

What’s your favourite thing about working in the Hachette UK office?
I’m really glad to be part of a company where there is such a strong focus on proactively looking after employees and helping them to develop in their careers. There are tons of training opportunities for people to gain new skills such as copyediting, proofreading and copywriting. And we’ve also got to have one of the best office-based eating spots in London. Our ‘6th Story’ café does amazing food, and the view of London from the rooftop terrace is incredible!

What are you most looking forward to working on over the next few months? 
I’ll be working on some great books we’ve got lined up over the summer. Windblown by Tamsin Treverton Jones is a beautifully written, lyrical account of the Great Storm of 1987. Another book I’ve been enjoying working on is Saffron Barker Vs Real Life, a really fun take on what it’s like to be a teenager in the modern world.

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learnt so far?
I was surprised by how often the ideas for books come from the editors themselves. It’s something I didn’t know happened before coming to work in non-fiction. There is a strong focus on drawing on trends and current affairs for inspiration, and there’s often quite a collaborative approach to working with authors. It’s a lot of fun seeing how we’re able to incorporate our own experiences and interests from outside of the office into our work.

What skills or qualities would you say an editorial assistant needs to have?
I think an editorial assistant definitely needs to be flexible and level-headed – able to remain calm and think clearly under pressure. Being diplomatic is also important. You often have to deal with a lot of challenges that don’t routinely come up, and the way you react to curveballs such as shifting deadlines and difficult author queries is going to have a huge effect on how easy the publishing process will be going forward. An Editorial Assistant also needs to be good at time management and have strong organisational skills.

What’s been the highlight for you in your job so far?
The first time seeing your name in the acknowledgements section of a book is a special experience. Also there is the excitement that comes from seeing a book you’ve helped put together in a bookstore. Being able to see the material result of your efforts is a feeling that never gets old.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into editorial?
If you can, try to get work experience or an internship in areas other than editorial! Learn as much about the publishing industry as a whole. Get involved in networking groups such as the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) or BAME in Publishing to get to know and learn from different people in all areas of the business. Publishing is very much a team sport and editors liaise with all the other departments on a day-to-day basis. Knowledge of how all departments work together is invaluable.