My Job in Five: Sarah Rouse

My Job in Five: Sarah Rouse

Describe your role. 
I primarily oversee the editorial development of the titles we work on—partial or completed manuscripts by writers who are at an advanced stage, often yet to submit to agents. Therefore my role is quite creative: I spend most mornings reviewing these stories and flagging up any structural concerns before passing them to a specialist editor. We can easily have 50 projects on the go at any time, and it’s down to my colleagues and I to make sure these all run without a hitch.  

What do you enjoy about your role?
Working at a consultancy, you’re both author—and industry facing, so you’re liaising with a revolving door of “book people”, from writers to editors to agents to publishers. One day I might be pitching a fantastic story to an agent as part of our scouting programme, and the next, preparing our annual LBF seminar. I also love being part of such a small team—all of our voices can be heard, and we’re each able to contribute to broader, strategic decisions.

What are you working on at the moment?
We mostly work with writers before they submit to the trade, so I can’t say too much about ongoing titles, but I can say that this year we’ve worked on books published (or soon to be) by Hachette, Bonnier, Pan Macmillan, Head of Zeus, and Simon & Schuster. In terms of projects, this summer we launched the ELEVATE mentoring scheme for underrepresented, low-income writers, which is a real passion project for me.

What skills do you need for your role?
As in all publishing jobs, enthusiasm, diligence and organisation are key, but in this role specifically, it’s important to be versatile. Things tend to crop up last minute—an editorial report that requires proof reading, or a writer on the phone asking what it means to “show, don’t tell”—and it’s crucial for me to be able to give those moments my full attention and then slip seamlessly back into my daily tasks.

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Consultancies are few and far between—only a couple operate on a large enough scale to warrant hiring an in-house team and a stable of editors—but jobs do pop up every once in a while, so keep your eyes peeled.Otherwise, be proactive, seek out opportunities to flex your skills—and if the opportunities aren’t there, create them.