Meet the deeelightful Libby Hamilton Managing Editor!
How long have you been at Templar?
Over five years – since February of 2006.
What does your job involve?
It’s a bit complicated-sounding – I manage the editorial department alongside Emily Hawkins. Together we’re responsible for the editorial staff, other highly interesting management things which I won’t go into (as I don’t want to lose readers on only the second question) and the quality of the editorial content across the list. I also edit and project manage a number of books myself.
What is the most satisfying element of your job?
I love that feeling when a finished copy comes in – it takes at least two months to print and ship a book, so by the time it’s in my hands I’ve forgotten all the hard work and just marvel at how fantastically it’s turned out. I had exactly that experience this week with The Bumper Book of Bob by Simon Bartram.
Have you had any funny awkward moments?
I once called our managing director “Mum” – but I’m hoping she doesn’t remember!
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be an actor-doctor-writer-explorer-superhero. Just the usual really.
What is your most memorable moment or biggest achievement at Templar to date?
‘Farther’, a picture book I edited, won the Greenaway Medal this year, which was pretty big for me. But I feel incredibly proud of loads of books we’ve made over the last five years.
How do you take your tea?
Green and without milk.
Fave book related blogs / twitter accounts/websites ?
I like Book Sniffer and am just starting to follow quite a few people on twitter. I like reading Publisher’s Weekly online, which makes me a nerd. I’m always looking for interesting new illustrators for our picture book list, so often go to their websites and follow their links. Owen Davey’s website had me entranced for far too long. At the moment I’m obsessed by a site called Big Cartel where great illustrators from Bristol and the surrounding area sell their wares. I’m saving up for a Mexican wrestler sculpture!
What are you working on at the moment?
Mike (our art director) and I are just finishing a clutch of amazing picture books for this year – ‘Black Dog’ by Levi Pinfold, ‘The Pirates Next Door’ by Jonny Duddle, ‘Jack and the Baked Beanstalk’ by Colin Stimpson and ‘Knight Night’ by Owen Davey to name but a few. I’m also super-excited about the publication of our new revolting novelty book ‘Monstrous Book of Monsters’, which I wrote. Andy Mansfield did an amazing job on the design and paper engineering and I haven’t had so much fun with a book for a very, very long time.
Are there any authors or illustrators you haven’t worked with yet who you would like to work with in the future?
The list for me of great authors who I’d like to work with is endless. I was lucky enough to work with Michael Morpurgo on ‘Not Bad for a Bad Lad’ and the experience taught me that the most talented people will surprise you by also being the nicest.
AND FINALLY - A few questions sent in via our Facebook site...
At what stage do you like possible submissions?
I think once you’ve got to a stage when you’ve absolutely done everything you can to make it the very best it can be, send it in to a publisher. Remember that unsolicited submissions have to go through a judging process alongside those from established authors and manuscripts from agents – never send anything to a publisher where you’re conscious something about your story isn’t working and expect them to fix it. My other tip is, don’t be prescriptive about the illustrator you see with it, as you’re limiting your appeal to editors who agree with your taste in illustration.
What do you look for in a submission? And when you consider a submission, do you think it's ability to work well as an e-book or app is important?
I look for an original concept, with a twist that I don’t see coming. I also look for someone who has their own voice and an obvious connection with their audience. I specialise in highly illustrated novelty books and picture books, so I’m always looking for someone who can tell an exciting story in very few words – an incredibly difficult skill to master.
I think the idea of it working as an e-book or app is quite separate for me. Things are evolving in that area very quickly, and making an app that actually pays its way is a very difficult thing. I’m definitely still looking primarily for a great story that will make a great page-turner of a book.