Hello readers! This is the first (now the second) sentence of our brand new blog, brought to you as regularly as my hectic book schedule will allow, by me – Jo Herbert, the editor of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and its (little) sister title the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook.
To give you a bit of background, I’ve been the editor of the Yearbook since 2002, when I took over from the former editor, who’d been working on the book for over 25 years – it was quite a handover! Before then I was an editor at three other publishing houses – Blackstone Press, LLP Publishing and the British Museum Press. I have to admit to completely stumbling across publishing as a career … and judging by the number of graduates wanting internships, work experience or doing MAs in publishing-related courses , I don’t think I would have necessarily found a way in nowadays.
I certainly had no idea (back in 1996 when I graduated from college at the age of 14, a lady never reveals her true age) that publishing was such a sought-after industry to be in. Looking back I’m not even sure I knew what it was! I was fresh out of university, broke and needing a job to save me going back to Wales and living with my M&D, and randomly applying for jobs in the Guardian. I was lucky enough to be taken on by Blackstone Press, a small legal publisher, in their customer services department, where I spent six months processing invoices and running daily and weekly sales reports.
My lucky ‘break’ came when a junior member of the editorial department left and I decided to ask for the job, mainly because I fancied the job title (trite but true) but also because I’ve never been a fan of talking on the telephone all that much and it seemed to me that editors had a much more civilised and quiet time of it. That did turn out to be the reality and so I then spent the next four years, learning how to proofread, copyedit, compile tables of statutes and tables (which I loved – I love tables of all descriptions although I wouldn’t put that on my match.com profile, if I had one) as well as talk to authors, stack manuscripts and cope with paper cuts.
Everything back then was done on paper and years on I still haven’t really broken the habit (I’m not all that happy typing this blog!). The editors of today have very few scars on their fingers I’m sure. Anyway, listen to me – I’m prattling on like an old duffer (I’m not that old – honest) and I bet my hair (I have good hair) that you don’t want to read much more about my career (you probably want the secrets of getting published, eh?) but, while I’m thinking of what else to write, I’ll carry on with the tale of my background … because some of you might be interested and those of you who aren’t, might at least like to know that the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is in safe hands – scarred hands.
I’ll be back soon!