My Job in 5: Charlotte Holloway, senior assistant commissioning editor, Oxford University Press

My Job in 5: Charlotte Holloway, senior assistant commissioning editor, Oxford University Press

Describe your role 

I am the senior assistant commissioning editor for the psychology and social work team at Oxford University Press. My role is to take newly commissioned titles from the idea stage through to handover to production. That means working with authors and enabling them to write and produce a manuscript of the highest quality possible.

What do you like best about your role?

Working with authors. The authors I work with are writing simply to leave something to posterity or to give something back. As such, they tend to be passionate about the work they do and that enthusiasm rubs off onto everyone around them. I get excited about every book I work on, for the simple reason that my authors are so excited to be writing it.

Which new titles are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working through the proofs of a book called The Virtue of Defiance, written by psychiatrist Nancy Nyquist Potter. It is a fascinating book based on her own case studies. Using real-life examples, Nancy looks at why patients sometimes refuse treatment. She discusses clients with bipolar disorder who refuse to take their medication because the benefits of the highs outweigh the serious low points, and parents who will not allow their children to take anti-psychotic medication. Not only an interesting subject, but also extremely well written.

What skills do you need for commissioning?

Juggling is the first skill you are going to need. By that I mean tasks rather than bowling pins! You are going to have too much work to do in very little time, so you need to be able to prioritise and use every minute of the day to best effect. Passion is the second thing I would look for in a commissioning editor. Not only a passion for publishing, but also for the field in which they commission. 

What advice would you give to those looking to work  in the industry?

Get work experience and be persistent. I was offered an internship at Oxford University Press straight out of university and was recruited from there. I was very lucky but I also worked hard to get that internship and then showed my dedication from the minute I walked through the door. Always keep in mind what it is you want to do and don’t get sidetracked from that goal. 

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