Jillian Young is a Commissioning Editor at Piatkus, an imprint of the Little Brown Book Group. She specialises in acquiring wellbeing, lifestyle, health and parenting – basically anything that helps or inspires people in their day-to-day lives. She moved to London from the US to get her MA in Publishing from UCL and has worked in publishing for six years.
Jillian is my editor too (she gave me my book deal) and it’s a complete joy working together on my first book Mumboss (out in March 2018). It’s an honour to welcome her here:
Describe a typical day for you?
I love sleeping so I wake up as late as possible in order to grab a coffee before getting in to work. Depending on the day I am either in editorial, acquisitions meetings or meeting with agents or authors (potential and signed authors). I read proposals or edit manuscripts (for the second, third, fourth time). I also love finding new ideas and approaching authors that way, so I try to read as many magazines, newspapers and blogs as I can to see what is trending in the area for new book ideas.
After work I either meet with friends or go home to watch whatever box set my husband and I are watching and call it a night! Like I said, I love sleeping.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
After university I moved to London from a town in the US where most people never leave. I love going home but I also love living in London and I am so proud and grateful for the experiences that I have had here. A lot of people say, ‘Oh I wish I could move there’ or do this or that. My advice is to just go for it. If you have to move home or end up not liking it, you will have learned something about yourself. My life would have been very different if I never took that opportunity.
Professionally, I’d say it was working with HRH Prince of Wales on his gardening book, Highgrove: A Garden Celebrated. It is hands down one of the most beautiful books I have seen and to be able to work so closely on it from the text, photographs, design and even going to the printer in Italy to see it printed was a pleasure (albeit stressful at times). And of course, meeting HRH and the Duchess of Cornwall was unforgettable – I’m so impressed by their charitable organisations and how involved he was in the book, from beginning to end.
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
I have a small bag at the moment so just my wallet, phone, make-up I’d take with me if I were on a deserted island (concealer, mascara, blush, lipstick), floss, my kindle.
What are your ambitions in life?
To be happy and to always stay true to myself with what I love doing, whatever that may be or how it may change over time.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
I wish I had known that as a book editor you don’t just get to read all day. I had grand illusions that I could just find a spot to lounge in the office and read. There are a lot of meetings and processes to get through in order to acquire a book – you have to get everyone in the company on board!
After the book is acquired you work with the author on the structure of the book then read and re-read (sometimes up to five times) the manuscript over until both the author and you are happy with it. But this is only just the beginning.
There is the proofreading, and working with production on the design, the cover, working with publicity and marketing on how best to reach your intended audience and providing sales with all of the information they need to sell to their accounts. As an editor you are with the book for its entire life – but that is what I love about it!
Also, more generally, not to get tied down by office politics and worrying you aren’t good enough. Everyone has those fears and they are almost always only in your head.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’d love to continue doing what I am doing – working with amazing people and finding lovely authors that inspire readers to live life to the fullest.
What advice would you give a budding book editor?
Editorial is amazing, but a lot of people don’t know that there are so many other areas of publishing to pursue – from design, production, digital, sales, marketing, publicity, consumer insight, the list goes on…If you love books and want to get in to publishing, I’d look at other areas within the business, too. Either way, get as much work experience as you can. I had ten publishing internships through university and getting my MA, which helped immensely in terms of knowing the business and networking.
Also, it is a competitive business and can be a hard journey career- and salary-wise. So if you are hoping to earn a hefty salary or be CEO of one of the big houses by the time you are 30, it probably isn’t the business for you. But, never say never!
Finally, happiness is…
Being on the beach with my family, lots of sunshine and a good book!