By Avneet Bains, Leyla Mehmet, Chloe Francis and Alessia De Silva
This issue, we spoke to Millie Andrew to find out more about her role as Assistant Editor at Hay House...
Tell us about your journey into publishing. Did you always want to go into Editorial?
It sounds cliché, but ever since I was young, I’ve been interested in creating books. I would grab my felt tips and piles of paper and make adventure books, epic romance novels and tales of talking dogs.
In 2019, I was hired as an Editorial Assistant at Dorling Kindersley (DK). I was part of the team that creates cookbooks and general lifestyle books. I then landed my job as Assistant Editor at Hay House UK in May 2020 during the first lockdown and started working from home. I’m loving it – working at a Mind, Body & Spirit publisher has definitely had a positive effect on me!
What does your typical day look like?
I tend to use my mornings for writing copy. I write sales documents (AIs and fact sheets), Amazon descriptions and back cover copy. I also look after the metadata and am currently working on a project to optimise backlist metadata. I’m a self-confessed metadata geek …
I spend my afternoons doing anything from making US-originated titles ready for the UK market and preparing them for print delivery, to making corrections to titles that are coming up for reprint and overseeing the system for unsolicited submissions.
Has there been anything you’ve found particularly challenging about your role?
The biggest challenge was the move from design-led books at DK to the more traditional format of books at Hay House. I would spend an hour working on a single spread at DK, so it was tricky to step back and focus less on the smaller details and more on the book as a whole (even though I do still pay attention to the details – I’m in Editorial after all!). At DK, I worked on design-led books and would focus closely on specific batches of spreads for weeks. I would work with designers on every single aspect of the book, whereas at Hay House, I work with designers on the cover and occasionally the layout or images in the text files.
Tell us about a project or book that you’ve worked on that you think deserves more attention.
Worth by Bharti Dhir. I worked on the sales copy for this title and fell in love with the hope and strength that it radiates. Bharti reflects on the challenges she faced during her childhood in 1970s Uganda and describes how she found strength and purpose after experiencing abandonment and facing adversity.
How is being an Assistant Editor different to being an Editorial Assistant? Is there any overlap in the type of work you’d be doing?
Moving from Editorial Assistant to Assistant Editor definitely felt like a step up, as I now have my own projects and manage a variety of titles. I also work more closely with authors and agents, as I need to contact them to request information for sales documents and back cover copy.
How does Editorial work with Production? Editorial and Production tend to work very closely together and it’s important to maintain constant communication between departments. I work very closely with our Production team on reprints, US-originated titles and catalogues. Whenever books are ready to be reprinted, Production will email me to check if we need to change anything in the text files. They’ll do the same with Design; we make the changes if any are needed and I resupply them to Production, who send them to the printer.
Are there any skills to really highlight when applying for editorial positions?
Yes, there are definitely certain skills that I would highlight. Firstly, attention to detail – it’s important to give examples of when you’ve been on the ball and attentive. Secondly, any copywriting experience – this is a major advantage, as any editorial role will involve writing effective copy. The third skill is having an open, curious mind. It’s great to show that you are constantly questioning things and exploring possibilities.
What advice would you give to publishing hopefuls who would specifically like to go into Editorial?
It’s incredibly important to keep an eye on current trends. A lot of books are trend led, so you need to know what’s happening within and outside of the publishing world. Whether it’s current affairs, fashion, food, music or art, make sure to show you have an interest in what’s going on around you. Another tip is to reach out and talk to people! I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in now if I didn’t take the step to talk to experienced publishing professionals. Making connections is very important.
You can find Millie on Twitter @MillieAndrewUK.