Meet the Picador team: Francesca Main

12 August 2015

Describe your job in 2 lines

I’m an Editorial Director at Picador. My job involves commissioning new fiction (and the occasional memoir), editing my authors’ work, and overseeing the publication of their books.

How did you get into publishing?

I worked in a bookshop for a while and then did work experience for a literary agency before landing a job at Penguin. (This makes it sound easy but in fact I had eight failed attempts to get a foot in the door – the Penguin interview was my ninth).

What do you love about it? / What is the highlight of your job?

The best part of my job is working closely with authors – I feel so lucky to spend time with such talented, clever, fascinating writers and to be a trusted reader for their work.  I learn new things from them all the time, and we have fun.  My colleagues are pretty great, too.

What was the book that got you hooked on reading?

I was a member of two libraries before the age of three, so it’s hard to pin it down to just one. Roald Dahl’s books were among the first I remember reading to myself – The BFG, Matilda and Danny the Champion of the World are still firm favourites.

What is the future of publishing?

I couldn’t possibly tell you, but I hope I get to play a small part in it.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in publishing?

Persevere!  (See above re: eight failed interviews).  Read!  And get involved – follow publishers, bookshops and writers on social media, read the trade press, go to literary festivals and author events, gatecrash launch parties...

Favourite place to read?

On a beach, in a café or just at home on the sofa.

Desert island book?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

Favourite Shakespeare play?

King Lear.

Favourite poem.

'Animals' by Frank O’Hara.

Favourite bookshop.

I love the Strand book store in New York – eighteen miles of shelves over multiple floors in my favourite city in the world.

Elevator pitch for the most recent book you acquired / worked on.

I’m currently editing Not Working by Lisa Owens, which is the freshest, funniest, sharpest debut novel I’ve read in ages.  It centres on Claire Flannery – who has quit her job in order to discover her true vocation, only to realize she has no idea how to go about finding it – and is the story of one woman’s unravelling and the universal need to work out what on earth we’re meant to be doing with our lives.

At least ten people work on each book that Picador publishes, all helping to get the author’s words into the hands of readers: there’s contracts and rights, editorial and publicity, production and design, sales and marketing... Find out what all those jobs entail and see what makes the Picador team tick when it comes to books, reading and publishing.

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