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Great writing, great stories, great women

Q&A with Editor Caroline Oakley

We will be featuring interviews with members of the Honno staff and committee on a regular basis – starting with our Editor/Publisher, Caroline Oakley.

 

Caroline OakleyHow long have you been working at Honno?

I’ve worked at Honno since January 2005 – at first I worked two days per week reading the submitted manuscripts and editing contracted titles. From 2008 I’ve combined editing with a publishing role, which includes some budgeting, scheduling the publications list, writing funding applications, rights management and liaison with the Welsh Books Council from whom we receive revenue funding towards the production of books and staff costs. I’ve done as little as two days a week as a freelance sub-contractor and as much as five days a week as a salaried member of staff. It’s been an interesting journey, and in 2011/12 Honno were good enough to grant me a sabbatical year to study for a Masters degree in the Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing.

What did you do before you worked at Honno?

Initially I worked simultaneously for Honno and my previous employer the Centre for Alternative Technology [CAT] in two part time roles. Before joining CAT’s publications team I was with the Orion Publishing Group for five years working as an Editorial Director for Orion Paperbacks and the Millennium imprint. I’ve also worked for Headline Books, WH Allen and Grafton Books (now part of Harper Collins). I worked my way up in publishing from Editorial Secretary to Publisher over the course of rather too many years than I’d care to mention.

What is the most important part of your job?

Ooh – that’s a big question. They’re all important in different ways, without any one of them it would be hard to publish successfully. But certainly without submissions Honno wouldn’t have authors and books to print, so it’s probably both assessing submissions and taking part in other initiatives that bring in titles and authors such as our regular meet-the-editor sessions and writers’ workshops.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Finding new writers, helping them hone their writing skills and sharing their delight when their books are read and loved.

Tell me about the difficult aspects of your job?

The most difficult bit of my job is finding the time to do all parts of it equally efficiently and fully – time is always short and in publishing there is always something more you could do. More reading, more polishing, more coming up with pitches to potential rights purchasers from foreign language rights scouts to film and tv producers. And now, with the rising importance of social media there is a whole new field of endeavour into which book promotion could venture – and we all know how much time can be spent in the wormholes that are Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

What do you like to do outside of work?

When there’s time I like to sew my own clothes, grow my own food and read something that someone else has edited. I also try to spend time outdoors looking at the horizon as an energising change from screen or paper.

What do you like to read?

Anything from SF and Fantasy, to crime, garden writing, memoir and general fiction – even the back of a cereal packet if there’s nothing else about. Recent favourites include Just Kids by Patti Smith and The Digby Cynan Jones; one I couldn’t get into: I Saw A Man by Owen Sheers.

 

You can find Caroline on Twitter @Caroline_edits