Monday, September 26, 2016

Chatting with Publishers: Kate Bradley

Welcome to the first in our series, Chatting with Publishers. Today Natalie Kleinman interviews Kate Bradley, Senior Commissioning Editor at Harper Fiction, who was kind enough to answer her questions. So, for all you writers who would like an insight into another side of the industry, here it is.

Can you tell us something about your journey to your present job?
I’ve been really lucky to have a second career as an editor. I worked in retail and direct mail bookselling for many years, picking up valuable experience about readers; what people buy and why. It’s all helped me as a commissioning editor – I always think about who the end consumer is when I’m acquiring a new novel or writer.

What is a typical day like as a busy editor – if there is such a thing as a typical day?
Yes, there is definitely such a thing as a typical day – it’s characterised by editing and publishing mostly. Editing is where you work with an author to help make their book as good as possible; we can do umpteen edits before the book is ready for the world. Publishing is really the strategic and tactical process of getting people to buy the book; it’s about the jacket design working with the copy to make the book appealing to potential readers; using social media to reach out directly to consumers; working with our Sales and Marketing teams to engage retailers; all of this is often the hard graft; editors love editing and sometimes find it hard to stop!

Have you ever wanted to write a book?
Occasionally, but I know I’m best at helping writers to realise their ideas and to get their brilliant stories down on paper (or laptop!).

When not surrounded by books in your job what do you like to read for leisure?
Books about the sea.

What are you looking for at present?
The next big thing! Honestly, I just really like books that take me on an emotional journey, whether that be historical or contemporary.

If you receive a submission that is not a genre you handle, do you pass it to another editor in your company?
Yes, always. I’ll often have a read too, even it if isn’t an area I handle. It’s good to see what’s out there and all of the editors at Harper work very closely together, we read each other’s book all of the time and share the things we’ve loved.

Does your company accept un-agented submissions?
No, we’d be deluged. Better that agents do some of that ground work for us, it’s what they’re really good at; sifting for gold – we’re the polishers.

Do you have a crystal ball? What do you feel will be then next 'big thing’?'
If I knew that…at the moment, our genre is very volatile and anything can happen. One thing’s for sure, readers will always want books that speak to the heart, but perhaps with books that subvert the idea of the traditional heroine.

If you have one piece of advice to give to anyone submitting a manuscript, what would it be?
Write a very brief introductory letter; no life stories! Make what you send as good as it can be – work tirelessly on it. Be patient and take the feedback you are offered positively; it will all help you to hone your craft.

Thank you for answering my questions, Kate, and for giving our readers so much helpful information.

About Natalie:

Natalie Kleinman writes contemporary and historical romance novels and has thrown a bit of a mystery into the mix in her current wip. She is accumulating a nice collection of Regency works to help with her research. You can follow her blog at

Thank you, Natalie
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@juliawildauthor said...

Very helpful interview, thanks for posting this!

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing a bit about the publishing world with us, Kate, and for such good advice.

Rae Cowie said...

Great practical advice, Kate, thanks. Note to self - keep the submission letter simple and take the reader on an emotional journey.

Unknown said...

Kate always shoots from the hip, logical, sensible and so much insider knowledge, could listen to her all day! Great piece, Natalie.

Rosemary Morris said...

My thanks to Natalie for interviewing Kate; and thank you Kate for interesting answers to Natalie's questions. I've taken your advice about short, to the point letters.

Unknown said...

Thanks to Natalie for the great questions, I tried to follow my own advice and be to the point!

Natalie Kleinman said...

You are every interviewer's dream, Kate. Thank you again

Anita Chapman said...

Great interview, thank you both!