It's time for the PHS' new #IndustryInsights column, where we talk to the people who get behind an author - the publisher, the copyeditor, the book cover artist etc - about their side of the publishing industry. This month we have none other than Kimberley Young - publisher, editor and decision maker on the executive board of HarperFiction!
Great to hear the Pink Hearts are back! The more we can celebrate romance and writers the better it is for us all, which is why I'm delighted to be here giving everyone a warm welcome and a hello.
I'm Kimberley Young, Publisher of Commercial Women's fiction and our digital first list HarperImpulse. I edit a select few authors, while running a busy list and a fantastic team of editors. I also head up our digital first publishing.
I'm privileged to edit some of the best and brightest names in fiction, from Sunday Times Chart toppers Fern Britton, Josephine Cox, Dilly Court, Kimberley Chambers and Barbara Erskine to brilliant bestsellers Lucy Foley, Lucy Clarke, Fionnuala Kearney and Mhairi McFarlane. Working with these unbelievably talented authors is at the heart of everything I do.
It's a cliché to say no day is the same in publishing, but the old clichés are usually the best! And I'm always torn between picking the champagne highs or the sales lows - the truth is the job is a heady roller-coaster and the good times wouldn't be as great if you didn't have to work day and night for them.
Similar to being a writer I should think!
Whilst one of my hats is editor to my authors, a publisher is almost like the middle of the wheel which holds all the spokes together, hopefully keeping the wheel rolling! That means working with, and helping coordinate, both the internal and external departments to create and publish a book. I liaise with publicity, production, cover design, considering titles, marketing campaigns and sales teams or international rights. We are the author's in-house champion and the process of creating a book and finally placing it in the hands of a reader is a long journey.
The market has been through the biggest changes in its history of late, yet I remember a time when supermarkets were only just starting to stock books. This gave women's fiction writers opportunities we'd never dreamed of before. Suddenly there were Shopoholics and Seasonal and Sagas like there had never been before, and what a decade it's been. The genres are changing, formats are changing, supermarket buyers are being more selective. But call me old fashioned amongst all of this change, competition and craziness, I still believe a good book will always out! It's my daily job to watch the market, to understand it and to deliver what it wants in the moment. But, most importantly, I work with my authors to take creative risks, to help them be their best, their most original, to be brave with their storytelling.
Last week I was in Miami at a global conference, being inspired by external speakers and finding out more about our international publishing. Next week is London Book Fair, where I'll be talking to international publishers, overseas agents and having dinners and meetings with colleagues and agents. It's a whirlwind time, and I've currently got a pile of submissions loaded onto my kindle to read before the fair... Hopefully, one will be just what I'm looking for - which at the moment is a wholly original voice, a story that promises many layers and perhaps blends genres in a way I hadn't thought of.
I hope that gives you a glimpse into why my hair is turning grey! But, also, why I've always got a giant smile on my face. Be creative. Be commercial. Be happy!
Upcoming books I'm publishing:
My recommended reading list:
The Cows by Dawn O'Porter: for those who want an utterly modern take on being a woman.
Who's That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane: Smart, funny, romance at its finest!
The A to Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson: a brilliantly warm, wonderful novel.
Kimberley Young is a publisher of commercial women’s fiction at HarperFiction and in 2017 was promoted to join the executive board. Kimberley joined HarperCollins in 2012 from Harlequin UK, where she was Editorial Director, responsible for the Mills & Boon imprint, the general fiction MIRA list and established a teen and digital first imprint.
Kimberley is also a huge advocate of digital publishing and launched the award-winning digital first imprint HarperImpulse, which is home to #1 Kindle bestsellers and is at the forefront of breaking new talent in digital.