Sadie Mayne is a freelance editor and one of our winners of The Unsung Heroes of Publishing 2018. We asked her a few questions about her work, freelancing and the key elements of a successful publication. For a complete list of #UHoP18 winners please see more here.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your work as an editor.
I’ve been a freelance structural editor for authors, publishers and editorial consultancies since 2010. Before that I was at Transworld (PRH) and three independents. I produce a chapter by chapter breakdown and look at how the narrative hangs together. It’s the structural editor’s job to ask the silly questions. My recent edits include Let Me Be Frank by Frank Bruno (Mirror Books) and Eye Can Write by 12-year-old Jonathan Bryan (Lagom).
What do you regard as the most gratifying aspect of the work you do?
Reading an author’s revised manuscript and seeing it all coming together. It’s great when the author comes up with new ideas and it’s always lovely to get appreciative feedback.
You’ve edited and commissioned a number of great books. Can you identify common elements among the most successful publications?
A page-turning story with clear dramatic questions that will pique the reader’s interest sufficiently to take them to the end of the book, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction; good collaboration and an author who is keen to make their book the best reading experience it can be.
What have been the biggest changes in the industry that you’ve witnessed during your career?
In the 1990s it was so much easier to get published, but on the plus side, book publishers are trying harder now to reflect everyone’s experience.
Often, publishers rely on freelancers to help them with lots of their books. How important is the relationship between internal and external creative talent?
A freelance structural editor can offer a radical in-depth perspective on a novel or memoir, and for a busy commissioning editor juggling many roles, that can be very helpful. We rarely have any preconceptions about the author’s expectations.
What are you reading at the moment and what’s next on your ‘to-read’ list?
The Unlimited Dream Company by J. G. Ballard and I’m halfway through The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, which is a masterclass in creative writing.
Eye Can Write by Jonathan Bryan will be published on 12th July. Pre-order your copy on Amazon.