My Job In 5: Jamie Joseph, Senior Commissioning Editor, Virgin Books, Penguin Random House

My Job In 5: Jamie Joseph, Senior Commissioning Editor, Virgin Books, Penguin Random House

Describe your role

I commission and publish a broad range of non-fiction on the Virgin
and W H Allen lists at Ebury, one of the divisions of Penguin Random
House. Specifically, my focus is on growing our business and
technology list on Virgin and in championing and building W H Allen as
a destination for “conversation starter” books on a wide range of
contemporary topics across current affairs, politics, science, behaviour
and more.

What do you like best about your role?

Commissioning non-fiction is loads of fun because you’re transforming
an abstract idea or experience into something tangible that will grab
the attention of readers in the bookshop. An entrepreneurial spirit, fresh
thinking and a dynamic approach are often central themes of our books
and also reflect how we publish, and this makes the office a really
creative and stimulating place to work.

Which great new titles are you working on at the moment?

I’m publishing quite a range of titles in the next year or so, including
The Off-Switch (how leaving work “at work” can actually make you
more productive), How to Win Games and Beat People (a science/gift
book of ridiculously over-qualified expert secrets for how to win every
board game or family game imaginable) and The Agile Mind
(a publishing phenomenon from Argentina on how creativity
really happens).

Has self-publishing made commissioning more challenging?

Self-publishing is probably a much bigger issue in fiction than in
non-fiction, but I think the fact that it’s become so much easier for
anyone to print or distribute their book online has opened up a useful
conversation about the role of publishers and, in particular, what skills
and services we can offer authors and readers.

What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the

Think broadly and creatively about what kinds of job you might enjoy
in publishing and about the range of skills you can offer. In my
experience, publishing is about imagination, creativity and having an
entrepreneurial spirit and that’s what you need to have and to show
off to potential employers.