My Job in 5: Sue Mayes
Describe your role
I’m project editor at Willow Tree, an imprint of [Woodbridge-based independent] Imagine That. I’m responsible for developing our picture story books and chapter fiction which means I’m always on the lookout for new writing and illustrating talent, as well as new design and illustration trends. I commission, edit and proofread, working alongside our in-house designers, freelance designers and agencies to complete each book from concept to the production of bound copies.
What do you like best about your role?
I’m lucky to be working across a range of children’s fiction. The challenge of creating “again, again” illustrated picture story books for the very young, through to chapter fiction that may launch a child’s first ever solo-reading adventure, is exciting. I’m passionate about children’s literacy. I love working with established authors and finding new voices, too. I get a real buzz from creative teamwork—making something completely new and engaging together.
Which new titles are you working on at the moment?
The new title in our pulse-pounding animal fantasy series, Survivors, is on my desk. Aimed at children aged eight and up, Darkness Falls is the next canine-themed instalment about dog packs that learn to survive and thrive in a world without human masters. Willow Tree is a new imprint which launched this year to coincide with the company’s 20th anniversary, so it’s exciting to be publishing these books by New York Times bestselling author Erin Hunter.
What skills do you need for your role?
As project editor, I need to be a creative thinker who is able to help turn a good idea into a great book. I also need to be flexible because, in true creative fashion, ideas and plans always develop along the way. Excellent teamwork is must, and an eye for detail is essential for the nitty-gritty of editing and proofreading.
What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
If you’re looking to get into children’s publishing, immerse yourself in children’s books no matter what role you’re looking for. There’s nothing like living and breathing the product you’re going to be involved in making. If you’re hoping to work in a creative department, practise your creative skills every day; reading, writing and drawing will be at the heart of your professional life.