My Job in Five: Fionnuala Barrett

My Job in Five: Fionnuala Barrett

Describe your role. 
My team and I look after the audio publishing for HarperFiction and HarperNonFiction—which is to say, I have one of the best jobs in publishing! I work closely with authors, actors and producers to make brilliant audiobooks. I also work with my impressive in-house colleagues to market, publicise and merchandise those audiobooks so they make as big a splash as possible. 

What do you enjoy about your role?
Working across fiction and non-fiction lists, I get to work on preposterously varied projects, from sci-fi to self-development. I am also involved with so many aspects of our publishing, from audio strategy and identifying new opportunities for our lists, to getting stuck into prepping a pronunciation guide. However, nothing beats messing about in recording studios, helping supremely talented people bring stories to life. 
 
What are you working on at the moment?
Summer is a full-on period for people who work in audiobooks, as that’s when we record all the autumn titles. So we’re finding time in some very busy people’s diaries to get the biggest releases of the year recorded, including Piers Morgan, Grace Dent and Mark Watson. This week I’ve also been working with colleagues on our release plans for the new recording of Tolkien’s The Hobbit, with Andy Serkis. 

What skills do you need for your role?
You need all the usual publishing skills around taking good care of authors (are they happy with your casting suggestion? If recording themselves, are they ready to go into the studio?); keeping on top of tight deadlines; juggling a large workload; and working within your budget and attention to detail in a million and one ways. Imagination is also crucial. That’s all casting is, albeit greatly helped by having a decent memory for actors’ names and voices. 

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Anyone who wants to work in publishing can tell me about what books they like—which is obviously incredibly important. But if you can tell me about what is effective about a piece of publishing, in its marketing or production or publicity, you’ll stand out from the crowd. If you can also tell me not just why you’d like this work but how you would add value or richness or difference to what we’re doing, then you’ve got the job.