Fiction & Drama
Lisa Rookes on the inspiration behind The Gallows Tree
Answering the #FridayFive today is Georgia Holmes, Senior Acquisitions Editor at W. F. Howes.
Tell us a bit about your job?
I’m a Senior Acquisitions Editor for W.F. Howes, the UK’s largest independent audiobook publisher. In essence, I acquire titles from agents and publishers and turn them into audiobooks, managing the process from the moment the manuscript lands in my inbox all the way through to publication and beyond. I get to be involved in everything from negotiating contracts and designing special effects, to casting narrators and spending time in the studio with them. It’s a huge amount of fun, especially when I finally get to plug my headphones in and listen to the final recording that I’ve had a hand in bringing to life.
What are the key ingredients for success?
Publishing is all about collaboration and communication; building strong relationships based on openness and honesty is crucial if you’re going to get anything done. That goes for both external relationships with authors, agents and publishers, and internally with your team. My colleagues are amazing and while we might not all have the same taste in books, we all hold the same values and are working towards the same goals.
Could you describe a normal day?
Every day is slightly different but they always start with going through my inbox, which fills up as fast as I can clear it. At the moment we’re preparing for London Book Fair, so a lot of my emails are with agents and rights teams arranging meetings to catch up on all things audio.
Throughout the day I’ll have calls with different departments to discuss things like production schedules and artwork, or with my team to hear about the projects other editors are working on. In between all of that I’m drafting contracts, writing copy, checking data, and doing all the other day-to-day admin that goes along with publishing a book. I always try to take time in the afternoon to read any new submissions I’ve received – if I hit upon something brilliant I sometimes get so absorbed I only look up when my stomach’s telling me it’s time for dinner!
For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?
I’m lucky to have had a fairly straightforward path into publishing. I started out doing a summer internship with Caroline Sheldon, a literary agent who’s been in the industry for over 30 years, and quickly became her assistant. I worked with her for four years, moving from assistant up to Associate Agent, doing everything from contracts to rights to royalties. She taught me almost everything I know! I joined W.F. Howes in early 2022 in a maternity cover role before becoming a permanent member of the team this year. Working in audio wasn’t something I’d ever considered before, but it’s always been a huge part of my life (as a child I used to listen to audiobooks on cassette while eating breakfast and as an adult to Audible every day on the train to work) so it made sense to move into an area that I’m truly passionate about and is something I wish I’d done earlier.
That’s my advice for anyone looking to break into publishing: don’t rule out any area of the industry. There are so many different departments you can work in – sales, marketing, production, rights, audio, agenting, the list goes on. Each works on a different part of a book’s lifecycle, and all of them are equally important to getting a book out into the world. Keep your options open and explore different avenues until you find the one that’s the right fit for you.
What are you reading, watching and listening to right now?
I’ve just finished reading Night Wherever We Go by Tracey Rose Peyton, a staggeringly beautiful novel about a group of enslaved women staging a covert rebellion against their owners. My TBR pile is overflowing as usual, but the next thing I’m picking up is Rebecca Makkai’s new book I Have Some Questions For You, a literary mystery that I’m very excited to dive into.
My current TV obsessions are the adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones & The Six and the new season of The Mandalorian. As for listening, I’ve always got an audiobook on the go. At the moment it’s Parini Shroff’s Women’s Prize longlisted The Bandit Queens, a fresh and funny take on a feminist revenge thriller. You can also catch me singing along to the Hamilton soundtrack while I work.