Last week we asked you to submit your questions for Naomi Colthurst, our Junior Editor. Here’s what you asked:
@HotKeyBooks When interviewing candidates for an entry level editor job, what previous experience/skills/qualifications are you looking for?
— Hattie Quinlan (@HattieQuinlan) February 18, 2015
Mostly enthusiasm! People like to hear about books you’ve read on their list but mostly they’ll want to see that you can have a clear knowledge of the wider market. Just talk about books you love and why, where you think they might fit on the publishing house’s list, who buys them… But in terms of actual on-your-CV experience I would say office and/or administrational experience is EXCELLENT – filing, organising, coordinating meetings/diaries/schedules – these are they types of things you’ll be doing in your first job and a prior knowledge of them will look great. If you can give examples of times when you have done these things particularly well so much the better – everyone is going to say things like ‘I have a keen eye for detail’ so make sure you SHOW that too.On that note, I’m generally less impressed by proofreading/copy-editing course qualifications than I am evidence that you have consistently done these types of tasks in a previous job or work experience placement – talking from experience those types of courses are expensive and only teach you the basics, whereas really these types of skills only improve with time and practise. And of course, previous in-house publishing work experience is usually preferred but isn’t always completely necessary. Getting a placement is very competitive – so if you can’t get any, try different routes. Volunteer with your local library, join a reading scheme, work in a bookshop – that all still very much counts as valuable market knowledge! And again, it just shows that you’re really engaged with the industry and the book world.
@HotKeyBooks I have one I get asked a lot- is working in a literary agency good experience before getting to work in editorial?
— Careers in Books (@JobsinBooks) February 18, 2015
Absolutely it is. Literary agents are as core to this industry as editors, so seeing how that relationship works from both sides would be a fantastic experience as well as giving you excellent insider-knowledge. I would also imagine that your key tasks during work experience at a literary agent’s would be admin-based, which as I mentioned above is a huge boost to anyone’s CV, as well as lots of reading through submissions – which is precisely how you learn to talent-spot.
@HotKeyBooks What’s more important, engaging writing style or a killer plot?
— Hattie (@hattiehards) February 18, 2015
Oooh that’s a really hard one… Hmm… if you want to nail me to an answer, I’d have to say… engaging writing style. I will tell you what someone very wise once told me: you can always edit a plot, but you can’t teach someone to write. So, if it were a choice, I’d go with the writing and hope that together we could MAKE a killer plot!
@HotKeyBooks What are you looking for right now? When a manuscript lands on your desk what do you hope to see?
— Karen King (@karen_king) February 18, 2015
I think basically my answer above! I can’t tell you a certain story that I’m looking for right now – I’m open to any genre or age-range (so long as it’s within the Piccadilly/Hot Key remit of ages 5+ up into crossover) – but I am always on the look-out for new, exciting talent, so when a manuscript lands on my desk and it has an amazing voice or writing-style, that’s when I get excited.
That’s all from me for now, but I’ll be open to questions for the rest of the day on Twitter (@NaomiColthurst) if anyone wants to ask something else!