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Carrie Hutchison, Editorial & Production Co-ordinator at Luath Press

Hi, I’m Carrie. I’m 25, live in Edinburgh and I’m the Editorial & Production Co-ordinator at Luath Press.

Hi, I’m Carrie. I’m 25, live in Edinburgh and I’m the Editorial & Production Co-ordinator at Luath Press.

I’ve been in this role for six months now but was previously Luath’s Sales & Marketing Coordinator for a year. I am responsible (as the job title suggests) for co-ordinating the editorial process for all of our titles. This includes editing them myself, or working with freelance editors and proofreaders, checking legal aspects such as libel or copyright infringement and liaising with typesetters and designers. The production side of my role is shared with our managing director and mostly involves some cover designing, liaising with printers and ensuring projects are completed on time. Outside of work, I’m a massive foodie who loves trying out new cafes and brunch locations around Stockbridge. I’m a dog (especially golden retriever) fanatic so I often spend time going up to Aberdeen where my family have two!

How did you get into publishing?

As with many others in the publishing industry, it was a mixture of timing, perseverance and luck. I’ve always loved books and reading but publishing didn’t really come into my mind until I was halfway through my History degree at the University of Edinburgh. After graduating, and a year travelling, I completed two weeks of work experience with Luath Press mid-2018 as a sort of trial – to see if publishing was the career for me. I already suspected that editorial was the area I was most interested in, but I ended up really enjoying lots of different aspects of the different departments. So I left that work experience with an open mind about what roles I would be happy to do. (I now think this is SO important when trying to break into the industry.) I then spent about four months living at home, working part-time in a local cafe and working part-time on my CVs, cover letters and applications for myriad publishing jobs across the UK. Out of roughly 40 applications, I got three interviews and was rejected from them all – it was tough going.

But in early 2019 I was contacted by the managing director at Luath to let me know that the Sales & Marketing position was now vacant and I could send in a CV if I was interested. I did, was interviewed a couple of days after that, and was offered the job only a few days after that. After a year in this role (and after I took responsibility for a few editorial projects), the previous Editorial & Production Co-ordinator decided it was time for her to move on and I put myself forward to our managing director for the role and was accepted.

How has working under lockdown conditions changed your role? 

Actually surprisingly little! This view may be a little skewed as I’ve only ever down this role in lockdown, but I was originally planning on working from home four days a week anyways when I accepted this role. The only aspect it’s significantly changed is meetings. So much of publishing is discussing plans and ideas with your manager, your colleagues, your authors. We’ve adapted, as everyone else has, with Zoom and Slack and various other tools, but sometimes there’s nothing like just being in the same room as other people to really get ideas flowing.

Has your attitude to reading changed since working in the publishing industry? How has it changed your reading taste or the genre of books you usually read?

Absolutely, though I didn’t realise it at first. For the first six to nine months in my first role, I hardly read for pleasure – which was a serious departure from my usual reading habits. Any entry-level role is taxing on your mind and body (and sometimes your soul!) and I found that the only way I could operate in my job, still see my friends and my family, and still manage the daily humdrums of housework, etc, was to cut reading out. It wasn’t an especially conscious decision, but I often found myself too tired at the end of a day to read a book over watching mind-numbing TV. However, once the initial shock of starting a 9-5 office job in a creative, competitive industry wore off, I got back on the proverbial horse.

Working in this industry makes you all too aware of how many incredible books are out there and how you will never have the time to read them all – a heart-breaking realisation. But it’s made me really pay attention to friends’ recommendations and to books that have been shortlisted for prizes that I respect (especially the Women’s Prize for Fiction). I have also (for the past two years) made it my New Year’s resolution to read all the unread books on my shelves. This has really broadened my reading (which I think is very important for those in editing) as it’s meant I’ve now read books which were not to my usual taste (so much so that I’ve sometimes put them off for years). I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all but one or two of them and have come across such different styles of writing.

Is there a book that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Why is that?

While I’m proud of all the books I’ve had the pleasure of working on, I have to say Why Men Win at Work by Gill Whitty-Collins really struck a chord with me. It was amazing to be able to work on a book about a topic that I’m really passionate about and work with an author who was so willing to sit and discuss sometimes difficult and uncomfortable issues. But it was because we had those discussions and adapted the book accordingly that I’m so proud of what we published.

Where do you buy or access your books?

Anywhere and everywhere! Including (*gasp*) Amazon sometimes… But I have been trying especially hard over the last year to support my local indie bookshops. Edinburgh’s so lucky to have SO many great ones (Golden Hare, Topping & Co, Edinburgh Bookshop, the list could go on) but The Portobello Bookshop has to be my favourite. Over the last year, I have also discovered audiobooks (mostly through Audible because I’m lazy) as a great way to wind down on my walk home from work (when this was a thing…).

What books have you been reading in lockdown? Do these books typify your usual reading taste, or have you found yourself reading other genres and authors?

At first, most likely because I took on this new role, I was hardly reading at all. But since May/June I’ve really worked hard at getting through my unread and unloved books. This included On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming, The Island by Victoria Hislop and All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. So my reading has not always matched my usual tastes, but it’s been a learning experience. My usual taste is more typified by my current read (Writers & Lovers by Lily King).

What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?

One that’s really stuck with me is when my mum, out of the blue, brought back Midnight by Jacqueline Wilson when I was about 9 or 10 and set off a Wilson-obsession that was to provide years of reading material to satisfy a reading appetite that seemed to be unsatiable. But I was also given Michelle Obama’s Becoming the Christmas it was released. Up to that point, I’d always been quite stuck in my ways as a purely fiction reader (and had been put off by most of the non-fiction I’d tried to force myself to read) but Becoming really opened my eyes to a different side of non-fiction that wasn’t just historical narratives or the ins and outs of a political stooshie. It is, at its heart, a story just like in the fiction books I so prize and it has helped me discover other real-life narratives such as On Chapel Sands.

What is your most beautiful book?

I love to collect Penguin’s clothbound classics but if I had to name one it would by The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstein. I’m always captivated by it, by the colours, the textures, the almost abstractness of it all. I swear I always notice something I haven’t before each time I look at it.

What is the oldest book on your shelf?

Most of my childhood books still sit on my childhood bookshelf in my childhood room, but I couldn’t leave behind my beautiful editions of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy which I’ve had since I was young. 

What surprises you about your bookshelves? Is there a book that you own that you were surprised to love as much as you did?

One book, which I expected to fall into the it’s-a-trashy-but-satisfyingly-easy-read was Isabel Allende’s A Japanese Lover. The title, the cover, the blurb all screamed romance-holiday-chick flick to me (and that’s not to say I don’t love those too). But, to my surprise, it was a tender and emotional read about growing old and the meeting of different cultures.

Which authors or genres do you look forward to reading more of in the future?

I read my first Bill Bryson book in lockdown (A Walk in the Woods) and thought that he definitely deserved the hype he’s been enjoying for many a moon now, so I’ll definitely be looking out for some more of his titles. But I’ve also recently read Ursula Le Guin’s fantasy Earthsea series (which I devoured) and know I need to get some of her sci fi books on my TBR list. I also have many big hitters from the past year which I haven’t got to yet which I’m very excited to get to: Normal People by Sally Rooney; Girl, Women, Other by Bernadine Evaristo; and Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams.

What are the best books you've read in 2020 so far?

I’d have so say, I have not read one bad book this year. So apart from the one’s I’ve already mentioned I’ve also enjoyed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (audiobook), Circe by Madeline Miller, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (all three of these were shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction!), The Binding by Bridget Collins, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman, The Humans by Matt Haig (audiobook), The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley (audiobook), A Portrait of a Lady by Henry James and Persuasion by Jane Austen.

What are your most anticipated reads for the rest of the year?

I love the sound of Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library and Michel Faber’s D (I’m a sucker for books about books/words). It’s had a lot of hype so I’m intrigued by Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and I’ve just found out that there’s a sequel to Ready Player One (aptly named Ready Player Two) by Ernest Cline and a new Bridget Collin’s novel, The Betrayals, both coming out this November which I’ll definitely be buying.

Which books should everybody read?

My dad once said everyone should read The Life of Pi by Yann Martel and I can’t say I disagree with that. While my mum got me into classics and I have to say Pride and Prejudice and Emma are two of the most cleverly observed books I’ve ever read.

Where can readers find you online?

I’m on Twitter and Instagram both @carriehutchie and LinkedIn. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about my role or publishing in general and I’ll answer as best I can!


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