Helen Francis - Editor
Helen has worked in publishing for nearly twenty years. She was a fiction editor at Faber and Faber for 8 years, and a commissioning fiction editor at Head of Zeus for two years.
She also ran the classics list at Vintage, Penguin Random House, and was a commissioning editor for Arcadia Books. She has worked as an international book scout for both Louise Allen-Jones Associates and Virginia Marx, keeping abreast of contemporary fiction and non-fiction and making recommendations to foreign clients. She’s worked at literary agencies Abner Stein Associates and MMB Creative. She also taught creative writing and editing at Bath Spa University, the Faber Academy and on a residential Arvon course. Authors she’s edited and published include Victor Lodato (twice shortlisted for the Sunday Times Short story Award), Sophie Hardach (shortlisted for the 2019 Costa Novel Award), Laurie Canciani and Michelle Paver (Sunday Times bestselling author of WAKENHRST). At Faber, she worked with authors such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Edna O’Brien, Andy O’Hagan and Sarah Hall.
WHY WE LOVE HELEN
Helen has an astounding background in both publishing and agenting and is ideally situated to give writers relevant advice on the market for their work, as well as that all-important editorial feedback.
WHAT HELEN SAYS ABOUT EDITING
I’ve worked in publishing for many years now, and encouraging writers, and helping them to shape their work, is the aspect of the job I enjoy the most. It’s common for writers to find themselves stuck – they become so close to their own work, having read and reread it so many times, that they struggle to see the wood for the trees. Whether it’s an extensive re-write involving line-by-line edits, a general structural edit to address issues with the novel as a whole or minor tweaks to a book that is nearly submission-ready, I find it incredibly satisfying and enjoyable to help a writer really bring out the best of their book.
My work as an international book scout – something I continue to do part-time – requires me to read a wide variety of genres of fiction and non-fiction which is currently out on submission in the UK or has recently been sold to a publisher, and to write reports for our international clients on which books I think might work in their territories. This not only gives me a great insight into everything that’s currently happening in the publishing industry, it means I know what is working, and what is current across literature as a whole, across all different genres.
I’ve done extensive copy-editing and proofreading, for publishers such as Bloomsbury, Faber, Penguin Random House, Orion, Quercus, Profile and Head of Zeus, and I gain a great deal of pleasure from meticulously going through a manuscript to iron out mistakes, spot continuity errors and apply professional house-style.