My Job in Five: James Keyte

My Job in Five: James Keyte

Describe your role. 
I manage a team of editors who publish audio titles across four publishing houses at Penguin Random House. Our team is responsible for casting and managing the production of those titles, and we work with authors and actors to ensure exceptional audiobooks for our lists. In my role specifically, I work on acquiring rights to catalogue titles as well as identifying new audio publishing opportunities for Penguin Random House Audio.

What do you enjoy about your role?
I love the feeling you get when you match a book with it’s perfect narrator. There is something magical that happens when an actor really connects with the book they are narrating. I also love the variety of brilliant authors we publish in audio—where else could you work with Zadie Smith, Stephen Fry and Peppa Pig in the same morning?

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m working on new titles in the Ladybird Audio Adventure series. These are narrative non-fiction, audio original titles in a series that we first launched last year. They are designed for three to seven-year-olds as an entertaining way to learn about the world around us. As they are written exclusively for audio we get to have loads of fun with sound effects, music and different voices. 

What skills do you need for your role?
You need to be comfortable multi-tasking and working under pressure. We are involved with our titles from the pre-acquisition stage but we actually only record the books much closer to publication. There is often a small window for securing dates with studios and actors, and things can move very, very quickly. You also need a love of storytelling, and of audio in all of its forms. 

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
I’d suggest talking to as many people as possible, from a whole range of areas within publishing. Connect with agents, editors, marketers and sales teams for starters, even if you have a very clear idea of what direction you wish to take your career, you may be surprised by what those jobs involve. I’d also suggest joining societies such as The Society of Young Publishers.