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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Industry Insights: Jemma North, Junior Editor at Sweet Cherry Publishing

By Molly Arabella Kirk, Gabriela Kaczmarek, Anna Cowan and Kat Lenahan


In this issue, we spoke to Jemma North, who works as a Junior Editor at Sweet Cherry Publishing, about the ins and outs of the publishing industry, her experience working as an editor and what inspired her to work in her current role.


Could you tell us about your publishing journey? How did you first get into the publishing industry? Was this always an industry you wished to join and how long did it take you to get your first position in publishing?


I have always been drawn to the written word and books have always been a huge part of my life. But I wanted to understand who or what was behind the making of my favourite books and I think that was the moment my awareness of the publishing industry came to light. That’s why I went on to study Publishing Media at Oxford Brookes for three years.

Like many other graduates, I spent months applying for jobs and had no luck. I was offered a role in financial services which I accepted and was grateful for. But after working with people’s pensions and investments, I knew that financial planning wasn’t my passion. Ten months after graduating, I came across a local author services company and posted my application to them in the hope that I could intern or that they were hiring. I was thankful to find out that I could intern for a month and this then led to me being hired full-time as a Junior Editor and Creative Assistant. This first role was in a small company but it was key in introducing me to marketing, design, editorial and production as I was involved every step of the way.


What does a typical day working at Sweet Cherry Publishing House as a Junior Editor look like? What does your role specifically entail?


A Junior Editor at Sweet Cherry is a really versatile and exciting role. As a small team, we have access to all departments which is a great way to understand everyone’s pivotal roles within a publishing house. A typical day entails carrying out content and line edits for a middle-grade or young-adult book that I am acting as the Lead Editor. This is such a rewarding stage as I get to work closely with the author and can shape the direction of the narrative but it takes time and care. I also have the opportunity to work on copy edits and proofreads for other editor’s projects. This is a superb way to develop my skills across all editing stages. I often step away from the early stages of editing and get involved in the post-typeset edits and this is where I editorially markup proofs for both text and illustrations. We are a busy and collaborative team and as a Junior Editor, there is no limit to what is available to turn your hand to.

 

Have you got any advice for any aspiring editors out there?


I think it’s great to seek out opportunities that enable you to work on a variety of editing stages and if possible, genres and age groups. This variation can help to shape your editorial taste and style. It also means you don’t pigeonhole yourself too early. Naturally, we all have our stronger abilities but we also have blind spots and this allows you to learn a lot about your own editing style. I feel this is so important for people starting their editorial careers! Trust in your gut and style too – it’s good to see things differently from others.

You don’t have to wait for the perfect role. Many roles in publishing require transferable skills, so don’t be afraid to consider stepping outwards as it can become a huge step forward!


In your own experience working in the book industry, what is one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a junior employee and how have you overcome this?


Getting your foot in the industry door is still a huge challenge, or at least getting experience to start your journey. I think it’s always good to consider indie publishing houses, author services and small presses and to always research your local area – even local bookshops. There is more on your doorstep than you think – it doesn’t have to be London-based. Many smaller companies give you a huge scope of experience and establish the foundations for you to move through your career in whichever direction you wish to go.


What is the most rewarding part of your role as Junior Editor?


Having the opportunity to work closely with brilliant authors – established and debuted. It’s a lovely feeling to offer suggestions and solutions to improve the storyline, a chapter or a scene and for the author to be so overjoyed with their work. I’m now beginning to see the stories that I have briefed and edited turn into beautiful books which is why I do what I do!


Where do you see or want your career to be in five years?


I hope to still work in Editorial in whatever capacity that might be! The publishing industry is forever adapting and so I don’t think there is ever a ceiling as to what can be achieved. I want to continue to learn and develop my editorial skills. I hope my editorial experience in different genres, age groups and formats has allowed me to specialise one day (should I want to). I’d love to work on a bestselling title or help to commission titles for a publishing list.


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