My Job in 5: Rachel Faulkner-Willcocks

My Job in 5: Rachel Faulkner-Willcocks

Describe your role
I am one of the commissioning editors at Avon, so it’s my job to acquire and publish books that make up Avon’s frontlist. We publish a broad range of commercial fiction, so I’m fortunate to work on a range of genres, including women’s fiction, crime and thriller. Yes, it involves a lot of reading, but the role is largely project management, and I spend a lot of time working with designers and marketeers, as well as editing and strategically planning how best to publish each book.

What do you like best about your role?
I know it’s a cliché, but it really is the people: my colleagues and authors, and the agents we work with. Editorial is by no means an easy job. It requires a lot of time and dedication, and I often take work—particularly reading submissions—home with me. But working within the teams behind each book always inspires creativity and we have a lot of fun.

Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
At the start of the year I acquired a book by T J Stimson called Picture of Innocence. It follows the stories of two women: a mother-of-three whose world falls apart when her youngest child dies in tragic circumstances, and a young girl growing up in a violent home, who commits a terrible act she does not understand. We’re publishing next spring, so it’s great to have time to build momentum around such a good book. I’m excited to get people reading proofs later this summer.

What skills do you need for your role?
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to be a fast reader. I am an incredibly slow reader. But you do need to be passionate about books and the commercial market, which is constantly changing. More than anything, you need to be a good project manager, because at any one time you could be working on anything from five to 15 different projects, all at different stages, and it’s the editor’s job to know exactly what’s going on at all times.

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Keep an open mind. Lots of people assume you need to take a traditional route to become a commissioning editor, but that’s not true. Lots of people come from other publishing roles, and even from other industries. And you may be surprised, once working in the business, to find that your passion lies where you didn’t expect it—perhaps in another genre or even in another role entirely.