My Job in 5: Elizabeth Jenner, head of children’s, Laurence King Publishing

My Job in 5: Elizabeth Jenner, head of children’s, Laurence King Publishing

Describe your role

I look after the children’s list at Laurence King Publishing. I’m responsible for managing the department, developing publishing strategy, commissioning new books and overseeing development from concept through to product. We publish mostly non-fiction and activity, with  an emphasis on illustration, design and creativity.

What do you like best about your role?

It’s a very exciting time to be working in children’s non-fiction. There are so many beautiful, innovative books coming out now and lots of scope for new ideas. When we’re developing concepts in children’s, it’s not unusual to find us making paper dinosaurs or experimenting with shadow play on the office wall. I love the creativity that’s involved in coming up with concepts or working closely with a talented illustrator or author to turn their great ideas into reality. It more than makes up for all the time I also spend staring at budget spreadsheets.

Which new titles are you working on at the moment?

We’ve just started a new year’s commissioning plan, which means lots of research and lots more paper dinosaurs. I’m also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new autumn list and hearing early responses to it, which will help us shape our future commissioning.

What makes a good children’s book idea?

A clear concept that can be summed up easily, striking illustration and  a strong gut instinct about the “magic” qualities of the proposal.  As commissioning editor, you are the book’s first champion. If you can’t sell the book in-house with passion and conviction, it’s unlikely that your sales and rights teams will be able to either.

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

Editorial is competitive, but it’s also an area where having a particular niche skill can be a great asset for the right publisher. When looking for jobs, consider approaching specialist lists where your own unique interests will really make your application stand out from the crowd.