Meri Paterson

The ideas business and other interests

Diary

17 March 2016
by Meri
0 comments

A day in the life of a commissioning editor

When I was looking to get into publishing, I had only a very fuzzy notion of what you actually did when you were ‘in publishing’, let alone what more specific roles such as commissioning editors did every day. Now I know it’s mostly email – no, just kidding. There’s a fair bit of attending meetings, too! Here’s an account of a typical day. Continue Reading →

Happy owl

8 November 2015
by Meri
2 Comments

Where do you go from being hugged by J. K. Rowling?

 

Last week, I met J. K. Rowling! I’ve now calmed down enough to tell the tale.

Working at Little, Brown has many benefits, but for a Harry Potter-head like me, the theoretical chance of meeting J. K. is really the main one. I had less than one day to get used to the idea last week when we got an email announcing a celebratory visit from ‘Robert Galbraith’ to mark the success of Career of Evil the very next morning. What should I wear? Should I talk to her? Would she be interested to know about my desire to get a Harry Potter tattoo?

The first question became moot by the morning as I blissfully forgot all about my impending encounter with the world’s most famous novelist. It was probably for the best. I decided I should talk to her, because the opportunity might never come again. And a friend put me off revealing my tattoo dreams, probably also for the best. Here’s the blow-by-blow. Continue Reading →

Browsing books

4 August 2015
by Meri
0 comments

Insights for publishers from a Marketing course

I’ve signed up to do a No-Pay MBA in the next couple of years – a self-taught equivalent of a traditional business degree using massive open online courses (MOOCs). I was inspired by the founder of the No-Pay MBA network, Laurie Pickard, who has actually done it – here’s an article about her in the FT.

I’ve just started my first course, which is Introduction to Marketing from the Wharton business school of the University of Pennsylvania, and wanted to share something interesting. Continue Reading →

28 June 2015
by Meri
0 comments

Technical and follow-up advice for sending submissions

This post is the fourth and last part in a series about submitting unagented proposals to publishers. Start reading here!

In this part I will share a few tips for getting the technical specs of your email right. In the grand scheme of your submission, this is not as important as some of the other things I’ve talked about before, but still worth mastering. For one thing, consider that the editorial assistant who will first receive your submission is likely to be a millennial – one of those frightful creatures who learn to use an iPad before they can speak. So creating the impression that you are someone who knows their way around a computer can help distinguish yourself (most hopeful authors come across to these millennials as terminal Luddites). Continue Reading →

20 June 2015
by Meri
0 comments

Book rec: I Know How She Does It

I have a book recommendation! Laura Vanderkam is a wonderful author who writes about time management. Her new book, I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time is really worth reading if you’re a woman who dreams of having both a happy family life and a career, or already have both and find the juggling act stressful and difficult. (And if you’re a man in a relationship with such a woman, I would also recommend it to you for perspective.)I Know How She Does It cover

I’ve been a fan of Vanderkam’s writing ever since I happened to find What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast in a bookshop, and was inspired by her optimism about time. The lack of time is a favourite complaint among ‘busy’ people, but she actually maintains that you can make time for anything you want by planning and prioritising. And some of the things your time is currently spent on probably aren’t worth it.

The new book is based on research among women who have a big career and a family, and her findings are honey to my ears. I’m ambitious career-wise, but I also hope that I will eventually have at least one child, and I’ve already started worrying about how that’s going to work. The narrative is that if you want one, then you need to be reconciled to the fact that you will never be fully invested in the other. But Vanderkam’s research shows otherwise: the book is full of women who find the time to be properly involved in both, without big trade-offs, and it’s really reassuring to read about.  Continue Reading →

London street at twilight

16 June 2015
by Meri
0 comments

Kernels of thoughts

London street at twilight

A June evening on my street

When I was growing up, I kept a diary for years. I had a friend who was a very gifted artist, and when we met and swapped diaries to get up to speed about what the other one had been up to, I was so impressed with the colourful, doodle-y pages of her diary. I obviously tried to ape her best as I could, so the main purpose of keeping a diary for a while was to come up with some witty illustrations or colour patterns my friend wouldn’t have thought of.

Now I dream of keeping a grown-up diary where I could record thoughts. I figure, when I’m old and want to look back, I won’t be so interested in which places I visited, etc – but what I used to think about things.

My efforts to start keeping a diary again have largely failed, but I can at least commit my ideas to the internet! Here are a couple of thoughts from the past week or so. Continue Reading →

Geisha playing violin

13 June 2015
by Meri
0 comments

Stop describing career wins as ‘luck’

Tell me if you recognise this. You go to a talk or seminar about some topic to do with succeeding in your career or getting a job. There are panelists, each more distinguished than the last and clearly chosen because their careers are somehow exemplary. Excellent, you think, these people will definitely be able to tell me how it’s done.

And then they all proceed to tell you how lucky they got, and how they owe it all to fortunate circumstances. They may have a speck of talent but mostly it was that they were in the right place at the right time. Time well spent?

Geisha playing violin

I was fortunate enough to have this violin fall into my hands.

Continue Reading →

16 February 2015
by Meri
0 comments

Presentation advice for submission letters

This post is part 3 in a series of posts about submitting an unagented book proposal directly to a publisher. Start reading here!

This part is about presentation: giving your submission the best possible chance by making sure it’s straightforwardly presented and easy on the eyes. It would be nice if everyone reading submissions was able to see directly into the soul of a book just by quickly scanning your letter, but in reality they will need help in understanding why your submission is The One. You want to try and make the essential information leap at the reader with minimal effort on their part. Here are some ways to do that. Continue Reading →

12 February 2015
by Meri
5 Comments

Real questions from editorial job interviews

Allen_Ludden_Jack_Klugman_Tony_Randall_Odd_Couple_1I’ve been to a fair few job interviews in the past 4 years for jobs ranging from Editorial Assistant to Commissioning Editor. Afterwards, I wrote down as many of the questions I was asked as I could remember. Some of the interviews were more conversational than others, so there were fewer questions. I haven’t included my answers, because a) I didn’t write them down at the time, and b) I didn’t get most of these jobs so they would probably not be that useful! :P

The interviews I had were all at well-known trade publishing houses in London. I hope this will be helpful for people who are preparing for similar interviews! Continue Reading →