Mirror Works: Publish and Be Damned Happy; YVONNE SWANN OPENS THE COVER AND DELVES INTO THE JOBS THAT PRODUCE OUR BEST-SELLING BOOKS

By Swann, Yvonne | The Mirror (London, England), October 12, 2000 | Go to article overview

Mirror Works: Publish and Be Damned Happy; YVONNE SWANN OPENS THE COVER AND DELVES INTO THE JOBS THAT PRODUCE OUR BEST-SELLING BOOKS


Swann, Yvonne, The Mirror (London, England)


CHILDREN'S BOOK EDITOR

ALISON Morris, 33, who lives with her boyfriend in London, is managing editor of children's book publisher Brimax.

I WAS always interested in books and worked in book-selling, stock control and management for a few years with WH Smith, Athena, Dillons and Waterstones.

I come from Stoke-on-Trent and moved to London in 1986.

I never earned more than pounds 10,000 a year at that time. I then went back to college and did an English, Media and Film degree at Southampton University. I graduated at 27 and knew I now wanted to work in publishing.

I took a job in a music agency for a year which gave me office experience which I'd never had before. I learned about all the latest computer packages, which has been invaluable.

At first I thought I'd go for an academic publishing career, working for something like Women's Press, but I just couldn't break into the business. I went through six months of interviews and failed at them all. My job interview techniques just weren't very good. Also people didn't understand my career path.

I started temping and the first job I was sent to, in 1995, was for a publisher of children's books in Camden called Levinson. Within a week I knew I never wanted to work in anything but children's publishing. I absolutely love it.

Eventually I became European rights manager. Because we were a small team in a new company, everybody was involved closely with every stage of creating the books. We all read the manuscripts and proofs. It was very democratic.

Then we were taken over by David And Charles - a larger more structured company - and I felt myself being pushed out of the creative process. So in 1999 I moved to my current position with Brimax.

I became managing editor six months after I joined the company. I think that was because I am very passionate about the job. I have a good eye for design, am creative, and also very practical. I realise that books need to make a profit.

I have an editorial assistant and designers - some freelance - who work with me. I also use a lot of outside editorial project managers.

I tell them the kind of book I'm looking for - how many pages I need - and they go and talk to authors they have dealt with in the past. Most of the books we publish come from an idea that I have commissioned.

I very rarely pick up on any unsolicited material from the so-called 'slush-pile', although I am working on a slush project at the moment. It is actually a very good picture book idea.

My hours are 9.30am to 5.30pm, but I usually leave between 6.30 and 7pm.

A managing editor like myself would earn between pounds 25,000 and pounds 30,000 a year, a junior editor pounds 20,000 to 25,000 and a junior around pounds 15,000. It's not a fortune, but the rewards are worth it.

I know my boss would like me to take even more control of the budget side. It is exciting to be involved in a growing company and to be part of the decision-making team.

But I just love the job I have at the moment. I'm very lucky.

INTERNET BOOK EDITOR

FIONA Buckland, 31, single and living in Maidenhead, is senior editor for society, politics, science and philosophy books at Amazon.co.uk, the international on-line book store.

MY career path has had a few twists and turns. I read English and Drama and then did an MA in Film and ended up teaching kids with special needs in Sheffield.

Then I got the opportunity to do my PhD in performance studies in America. In New York I worked as a research consultant for an internet start-up company, but it ran out of venture capital and I was one of the first people to go.

I found a job with the Library of Science Book Club, the largest book club in America. And that's where I got my background in science publishing for a popular audience.

It's a wonderful wide-ranging area to work in covering all the issues we care about - sex, what we are doing here, the mind - the fabric of life. …

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