Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas - Editor

United Kingdom

15 years of in-house editorial experience specialising in children's fiction (MG, teen and YA). Previously Editor-at-Large for Hachette.

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Overview

I have fifteen years of in-house editing experience, specialising in children's fiction. Before going freelance, I was Editor-at-Large and Editorial Director for Hachette Children's Group, and had previously worked my way up the ladder at Walker Books and Scholastic. I was responsible for acquiring and editing bestselling and award-winning middle-grade, teen and YA fiction. In the final two years of my in-house career, books I acquired and/or edited were shortlisted or won almost every major award, including the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Carnegie Medal, the Waterstones Children's Book of the Year, the Laugh out Loud Award, and the Blue Peter Book Prize, and the Amnesty CILIP Honor. Some of these books have also been bestsellers in the international markets, including gaining positions on the New York Times bestseller list.

I've been on the faculty of Columbia University's postgraduate publishing course since 2015, teaching students in New York and at Oxford University. I'm an occasional guest lecturer for the University of Limerick's Creative Writing department, including co-facilitating on their residential winter writing school. Alongside my publishing work, I'm also a registered psychotherapist.

Some of the key titles that I both commissioned and edited include Nevermoor (Jessica Townsend); The Bone Sparrow (Zana Fraillon); The Deathless Girls (Kiran Millwood Hargrave); Becoming Dinah (Kit de Waal); and The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig (Emer Stamp). I also acquired and directed the editorial vision for The Boy at the Back of the Class (Onjali Q. Rauf).

My strengths as an editor are structural, big-picture and creative thinking. I aim to help you turn your book into the very best version of itself. I do not edit by numbers: every edit is completely different, responding to the particular needs of your manuscript. So I won't shy away from suggesting big changes -- killing a few of those darlings, for example! Nor will I suggest big changes just because that's what I've said here, if in fact it's time for some closer work on the text.

I do not offer proofreading or copy-editing: they're very different skills, and although I did both throughout my career, they're a) not my strength, if I'm honest and b) require a different bit of the brain, and it'd be a waste of your money to try to get someone to do both big-picture and close-up at once.
Languages
English (AUS)
English (NZ)
English (UK)
English (US)
Fiction
Middle Grade
Middle Grade Fantasy
Women's Fiction
Young Adult
Non-Fiction
New Age
Psychology
Self-Help & Self-Improvement
Writing & Publishing

Work experience

Editor, Creative Consultant, Psychotherapist

Self-employed
April, 2020 – Present (over 1 year)

I worked in-house as a book editor in the publishing industry for fifteen years. My final in-house role was as Editor-at-Large for Hachette UK’s children’s fiction team, where I was previously Editorial Director. I was responsible for high-level acquisitions and worked with many bestselling and award-winning authors.

During my in-house career, I worked with many award-winning and bestselling children’s fiction authors. In the final few years, books I’d acquired won or were shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Fiction Prize, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Blue Peter Book Prize, the Laugh-out-Loud Book Award, the Carnegie Medal and the Amnesty CILIP Honour. I also spearheaded the launch of a new list that aimed to address the gender balance in fiction, specifically the untold and mistold stories from female voices.

Editor-at-Large

Hachette Children's Group
November, 2018 – March, 2020 (over 1 year)

Book faculty

Columbia University
September, 2015 – Present (over 6 years)

Editorial Director

Orion Children's Books
July, 2015 – November, 2018 (over 3 years)

Editorial Director

Scholastic Ltd
December, 2014 – June, 2015 (6 months)

Commissioning Editor

Scholastic Ltd
October, 2010 – November, 2014 (about 4 years)

Portfolio (13 selected works)

Julia and the Shark

Hargrave, Kiran Millwood

Bone Sparrow

Zana Fraillon

The Deathless Girls

Hargrave, Kiran Millwood

Sky Is Everywhere

Jandy Nelson

The Lost Soul Atlas

Fraillon, Zana

Catching Falling Stars

Karen McCombie

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