I am delighted to chat to one of my favourite PIPI’s (People in the Publishing Industry) – Samantha Eades. Sam is both influential and passionate about books and authors and is also one of the most generous ladies I’ve met since forming THE Book Club (TBC) on Facebook. She has supported our book group from the beginning donating hundreds of books for our London Birthday Parties and various book auctions. It is thanks to Sam that we discovered Shtum, which is one of our favourite books on TBC. You can follow Sam on Twitter: @SamEades
Firstly, can you please tell me about your job and what you do at Orion?
I am an editorial director at Trapeze, a new imprint of Orion with a brief to publish books that start conversations. That might be a book that starts a debate, taps into an existing conversation or is a book everyone is going to be talking about. I commission fiction, and am looking for standout voices in the crime, psychological thriller, reading group, women’s fiction and crossover genres. I’m unashamedly commercial, and the target reader for the books I’m looking for are my mum and dad!
The day job varies and isn’t your traditional 9-5. I’m also new at it, and will probably miss something but here is an overview of what my day to day might entail. An editor’s job is to project manage the publication process from manuscript to finished book. That includes:
Acquisition – reading submissions, circulating acquisition material to colleagues, prepping and pitching projects at the acquisition meeting, drawing up an offer letter, negotiating terms with agents, producing pitch documents, organising pitch meetings to woo authors, drawing up contracts, and writing acquisition announcements. As well as submissions from agents, I also keep an eye on the Kindle charts for self-published authors and on the TBC group to see who readers are talking about.
Editing – structural editing, line editing, booking copy editors and proofreaders, collating author changes, liaising with production about timing, type, design and finishes (e.g. Sprayed edges! Glitter on the front!). Checking ebooks, putting together proof copies and material at the back of the book such as reading group guides. I also talk to authors about their future projects before the writing process begins again. I like getting my hands dirty in an edit.
Packaging and positioning – brief the cover, write back cover copy and shoutlines and help with titles, send copies out for blurbs, write and regularly update metadata for online retailers so it optimised for search. I check and update author’s Amazon pages weekly.
Pitching – pitching for new business, meeting agents, meeting literary scouts, meeting foreign editors, attending book fairs, pitching to colleagues, retailers, journalists, presenting the book at sales conference, to our international sales team etc. For each book I need to know where it sits in the market, who the ideal reader is and a two-line pitch.
Communicating – making sure from the outset that author and agent are clear about the publication process, our shared goals and publishing plans. Organising either emailed, telephone or face to face presentations about our strategy, pr, marketing and sales. Communicating good news and bad.
Team Trapeze – I am also part of a small team and support my colleagues by reading their acquisition material, pitching the imprint for events such as our proof party at Cheltenham and press coverage, and helping out with social media.
Snooping on the competition – Reading competitor titles, checking out covers, researching sales figures, trying to spot trends and generally being nosy. I regularly check the amazon charts, and what The Book Group are reading!
No editor is an island. All of the above is a team effort, and will involve a number of talented colleagues from across the business. I like to work as a team, and involve author and agent every step of the way. E.g. I make geeky shared Pinterest boards 😂
Being paid to read books is my ideal job, how did you wangle that you lucky bugger?
God knows Tracy. I think reading a lot of books helps!!!
I know you like a drink or two (or four), what’s your favourite alcoholic beverage and what’s your most embarrassing drunken moment?
Cheeky. I like a margarita and a rum and coke and red wine and… And… not telling!
We met virtually through THE Book Club (TBC) and when I read Shtum, which is one of my all time favourite books and you have been incredibly generous to TBC over the past few years, giving us books and Netgalley Widgets to read, how important are groups like TBC to you personally and your authors?
You recently posted a link to the bestselling ebooks of 2016, and they were all books championed by members. This group is word-of-mouth in action. You cheerlead for authors, support them by buying books, leaving reviews and telling other people how brilliant they are. The support for SHTUM is a great example, and I’m grateful for those members who contributed to the reading group guide in the paperback edition.
TBC is also useful for me as a nosy editor to see what you are reading! And to hear your feedback on covers and those Amazon subtitles and whether you like to know if there is a twist in advance…
You obviously read hundreds of submissions looking for the next big thing – be honest with me – have you ever passed on a book and it’s then gone on to be a best seller with another publisher?
I’ve only been a full time editor for six months, so a lot of the monster bestsellers I turned down haven’t come out yet. The book I wish I’d offered on (but was green in the job) was MISS YOU by Kate Eberlean. It is an amazing, moving book about chance and missed connections. It makes you feel a little less alone. It has been impeccably published by Pan Mac, and was selected for Simon Mayo Bookclub. Buy it!!!
At the Killer Women festival you were giving a workshop for up and coming authors and one of the questions was how important looks were, especially as authors are expected nowadays to do public speaking, book launches etc. You explained that looks were not important at all and that the quality of the writing is what really matters. Personally I think that’s a load of b*llocks as I would much rather read a book by a handsome young man – but that’s just my opinion. My question is – have you have met an author after reading their book and been shocked – if so WHO?
Lovely Linwood. His author picture is mean and moody and I was a bit scared of meeting him. He is so lovely in person! Like a teddy bear, albeit one with murderous tendencies.
Apart from reading and drinking – what do you do in your spare time and what makes you laugh?
I’m a telly addict! I watch everything, from tv crime dramas to Netflix box sets. I love the way shows like HTGAWM and The Missing are so ambitious in their storytelling, teasing the viewer by switching perspectives and timeframes. I love books that do that too, like I LET YOU GO or BETWEEN YOU AND ME. I’m also partial to a jigsaw. Helps me relax!
What’s your greatest book related achievement to date?
When I was a publicist I lobbied the council to change the name of a road to Neil Gaiman’s latest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. That was pretty cool. It really exists!
At Harrogate this year, you arranged a romantic lunch for me and Linwood Barclay (and 23 other authors, journalists and hangers-on) thanks for that. My question is do you get star struck meeting such talented people (I’m talking about Linwood here not me obviously) and who else have you met (got direct access to?)
All the time. Sophie Hannah and Jo Nesbo are my favourite authors and I got very star struck meeting them. Still mortified about a curry I gatecrashed where I squeaked at Jo, and he couldn’t understand a word I was saying. Also I handled David Suchet’s pr. I’m an obsessive Poirot fan and on the last day of the tour finally worked up the courage to ask for a selfie.
What books and authors should we be looking out for in 2017 – tell me about them and their books please?
Where to begin!
From Trapeze, SHTUM which is a TBC favourite is out in paperback in January. Beautiful story about three generations of a family learning to get along.
For fans of A MAN CALLED OVE check out heartwarmer CALLING MAJOR TOM. An ultimately life-affirming story of a man who has given up on the world… but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.
If you like twisty cat-and-mouse thrillers check out RAGDOLL in Feb. MJ Arlidge is a fan! The next big brand in crime fiction, a pulse-pounding police procedural with the pace of a thriller.
And then two brilliant, twisty psychological thrillers TATTLETALE (a revenge thriller that will surprise you with three female leads) and LITTLE SISTER (which explores the dark and complex relationship between sisters, PLUS you can complete the sisters bit on the TBC challenge!)
Then from those pesky competitors – GOOD ME BAD ME, FINAL GIRLS and BEHIND HER EYES are brilliant, striking psychological thrillers. And A DANGEROUS CROSSING needs to be a tv adaptation asap. Gripping historical mystery with an end that will linger for days.