Editing Books with Rachel Boden

Editing Books - Rachel Boden

We're thrilled to welcome Rachel Boden, Editorial Director at Walker Books, for our latest interview.

Rachel lives in Guildford, is a mum of two and a lover of cats and dancing.

Editing Books: What inspired you to pursue a career in publishing?

I have always had my head in a book since I learned to read, and I wanted to be in the world of literature and stories on a day-to-day basis. 

Editing Books: Please can you tell our readers where you’re currently working and what a typical day is like for you?

I'm currently working at Walker Books, which is an independent children's publisher. A typical day is spent reading and responding to emails - from authors, agents and colleagues - and having meetings. Authors and illustrators sometimes come in, which is always productive and interesting.

Editing Books

Or the meeting could be with a designer, looking at layouts or rough illustrations together. Or it could be with the sales and marketing teams, talking about new acquisitions, existing authors and brands, or prices and formats.

Of course, there's always a text to edit. Most go through several rounds with the author. As an editor, you get little time to read, ironically, so I read submissions on my commute. There is a constant flow of tea and usually some biscuits or cake in the office too. 

Editing Books: Publishing can be a competitive industry. How did you break into it?

I worked for a tiny independent in Brighton for a year, learning how to proofread and copy-edit, and then those skills proved invaluable when I applied for jobs in bigger companies in London.

Editing Books: What’s the best thing about being an editor?

Being in constant creative conversations with incredibly inspiring people - not just authors, but illustrators, agents and publishing colleagues. And helping to create amazing books, of course.

Editing Books: What's the worst thing about being an editor?

Not always winning the manuscript you've pitched for, and which you desperately want to work on.

Editing Books: What do you look for in a writer? 

A unique voice that is also believable, and a willingness to listen to feedback! With children's writers in particular, a knowledge of their target market is crucial - what do children actually want to read about?

Editing Books - A Series of Unfortunate Events

Editing Books: How do you know when you’ve found something really special?

It's difficult to specify - it's to do with voice, with original plot, with something that just demands you keep reading. I still remember when I read certain manuscripts as they were so refreshingly different - A Series of Unfortunate Events, for instance, or Artemis Fowl, or Skulduggery Pleasant. And one that's forthcoming from Walker - Malamander.

Editing Books: What would you say is the most important thing in a writer-editor relationship?

Respect. The editor must absolutely respect the author's voice and choices at all times. It's their book, after all. And if the author also respects the editor's thoughts and suggestions, then a really fruitful conversation can be had. They both have the same goal, after all - to make the book the best it can be.

Editing Books: Is there a particular process you follow with your writers? How do you work together to get a manuscript ready for publication?

It varies from author to author and manuscript to manuscript. I email most of them, and add comments on a Word document. Sometimes I give them an editorial overview in a separate letter as well. Usually we speak on the phone or meet up as well. We send various drafts back and forth until it's ready for copy-editing.

Editing Books: What’s your favourite moment or moments of your career so far?

I couldn't possibly single any one moment - or anyone - out. I've had lovely comments from authors, and enjoyed working with them all. And I've had personal illustrations drawn for me by kind illustrators. I feel lucky every day to work in this industry.

Editing Books: Do you write yourself?

No. I have written some books in-house, but to commission. My inner editor is too exacting regarding any ideas I may have myself!

Editing Books: What are your top tips for writers trying to get published?  

Read books that your target market are reading. Know your space. If one idea gets rejected, don't despair, try to have another one up your sleeve. If something is rejected, it could be for many reasons, not necessarily your talent. Perhaps that publisher has got something similar coming up; or that story itself wasn't right, but another could be. Your day will come!

Thank you so much for joining us, Rachel. A great insight into the editorial world and some really great advice here for all budding writers.


Find out more about Walker Books 

·        Vashti Hardy, author of Brightstorm
·         Katherine Wiseman, author of Gangster School
·         Tony Bradman, lead author of Project X
·        Jini Reddy, author of Wild Times
·        Lorraine Cannell, author of Hollow

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