SOPHIE JONATHAN, PICADOR, SENIOR COMMISSIONING EDITOR
Few editors have had a more exciting and fruitful past 12 months than The Bookseller’s Shooting Star for 2018, Sophie Jonathan. She has overseen the publication of high-profile débuts in the shape of Sharlene Teo’s Ponti and (in paperback) Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From (acquired from fellow Rising Star Emma Paterson), the latter of which was Waterstones’ Fiction Book of the Month in May. On the acquisitions front, she won two heated big-money auctions, first nabbing rights to Elizabeth Macneal’s The Doll Factory and then securing what was unquestionably the book of the 2018 London Book Fair, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s adult début, now entitled The Mercies.
“Auctions are impossibly exciting,” Jonathan says. “You become so passionate about a book and how you know you can publish it. You get hopelessly emotional. When I won those books, I just dissolved at my desk.”
Jonathan started her career in marketing and publicity—briefly at Penguin, before jumping to Pan Macmillan in 2010. She has been with the publisher since, moving to Picador editorial in 2011, and quickly going from assistant to senior commissioning editor. An early highlight was helping publisher Paul Baggaley on Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites: “It was a privilege to work on such a huge international publication that the entire company got behind.”
She has since taken over solely editing Kent, along with a raft of other Picador stalwarts such as Emily St John Mandel, Tim Winton and Jim Crace. One of her big non-fiction hits has been Nell Stevens’ Bleaker House and she is actively on the hunt for more “in that creative, serious non-fiction space, which has become so interesting right now”. Jonathan also heads the 100-title-strong Picador Classics range and is particularly proud of re-publishing Fran Ross’ “prescient” 1974 satirical look at race, Oreo, out later this month: “It may have been written 45 years ago, but its time is now."
“What really drives me is working with authors, helping build careers. In a few years’ time I hope I can look across my list and see a spread of fiction and non-fiction books and authors I’m passionate about.”