James Magniac

James Magniac - Editor

London, UK

Developmental editor and former literary fiction editor at two-time Man Booker-winning publisher Oneworld Publications

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Overview


"James explored the work with extreme care, and left no page and detail unchecked … He understood—almost instinctively—my aesthetic style and offered salient recommendations. I am the better for this partnership—both as a writer and a creative. Thank you."
Aya Saed, Reedsy, 2020

Hello!

I specialise in editorial assessments and developmental edits for literary fiction and upmarket commercial fiction. Having worked in the editorial departments at two of London’s most prestigious and fiercely independent publishers—Oneworld Publications and Granta Books—I have spent the last decade reading, assessing, positioning, and editing works of prize-winning literary fiction. I want to use my insider’s knowledge to help make your novel the best it can be, and to de-mystify the publishing process so that you can choose the right path when taking your work to market.

I spent five years as a fiction editor at independent publisher Oneworld (2012-2017) where I was brought in to help build the company’s fiction list. Working closely with the Publisher in a small, hands-on team, I took great pride in working with authors at every stage of the editorial process, from early to advanced stages of editing. In 2015-16, we won back-to-back Man Booker Prizes with Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings (2015) and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout (2016); the Guardian described it as ‘an incredible achievement for any publisher, let alone one the size of Oneworld’. We also won a bunch of other literary prizes, and won the IPG Trade Publisher of the Year in 2016.

I focus on working with individual authors on a freelance basis, focusing on works of literary and upmarket commercial fiction—so if that's you, drop me a line!

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'James is that rarest of things: an excellent reader and editor with a fine, critical mind who also has extensive knowledge of the publishing marketplace. He has considerable experience working on fiction and non-fiction across a wide array of genres and is a complete pleasure to work with. I know James would be a huge help to aspiring, and established, writers.'
—Rosalind Porter, Deputy Editor, Granta Magazine

‘James has an excellent editorial eye and is a delight to work with. He has a rare insider’s knowledge of how publishers acquire and publish literary and upmarket commercial fiction, and he has a wonderfully deft touch when it comes to instilling confidence and helping writers find their voice.’
—Jenny Parrott, Publishing Director, Point Blank, Oneworld Publications
Languages
English (AUS)
English (CAN)
English (NZ)
English (SA)
English (UK)
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs
Nature
Travel
Fiction
Literary Fiction
Mystery & Crime
Short Story
Thriller & Suspense

Certifications

  • Queen Mary University of London
  • University of Oxford

Awards

  • Oneworld Publications won back-to-back Man Booker Prizes in 2015 and 2016

Work experience

Editorial Consultant

Self-employed
August, 2017 – Present (almost 3 years)

As a freelance editorial consultant, I work with literary agents, literary scouts, book publishers, and writers. I offer structural consultancy and advice on editorial issues; I also mentor writers, assess manuscripts, book-doctor, and help authors in difficulty.

Editor, Fiction

Oneworld Publications
June, 2012 – August, 2017 (about 5 years)

Working closely with the Publisher, I read and assessed all fiction submissions, commissioned translations, and provided structural and developmental edits on literary fiction working with writers at early and advanced stages of editing. I also helped: launch a crime imprint, Point Blank; launch a young adult imprint, Rock the Boat; and develop Oneworld’s list of prize-winning fiction in translation.

Reader, Fiction

Granta Books
May, 2010 – June, 2012 (about 2 years)

I read and assessed literary fiction for the editorial department, writing clear and professional reports on agented submissions. Reports included comment on: content; storyline (if appropriate); style and tone; suitability to market; likelihood it will be taken on by commercial/literary publishers; recommendations for further work required.

Portfolio (13 selected works)

The Sellout

Paul Beatty

**WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016**‘Outrageous, hilarious and profound.’ Simon Schama, Financial Times‘The longer you stare at Beatty’s pages, the smarter you’ll get.’ The Guardian‘The most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I’ve read.’ The New York TimesA biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, The Sellout show... read more

**WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016**‘Outrageous, hilarious and profound.’ Simon Schama, Financial Times‘The longer you stare at Beatty’s pages, the smarter you’ll get.’ The Guardian‘The most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I’ve read.’ The New York TimesA biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, The Sellout show... read more

Little Nothing

Marisa Silver

An enchanting, atmospheric new novel from New York Times-bestselling author Marisa Silver In an unnamed country at the beginning of the last century, a peasant couple longs for a child. In despair they turn to gypsy tonics and archaic prescriptions, and one cold wintery night, the couple's wish comes true. But the silence that follows the birth forewarns of darker days to come., Strangers look... read more

An enchanting, atmospheric new novel from New York Times-bestselling author Marisa Silver In an unnamed country at the beginning of the last century, a peasant couple longs for a child. In despair they turn to gypsy tonics and archaic prescriptions, and one cold wintery night, the couple's wish comes true. But the silence that follows the birth forewarns of darker days to come., Strangers look... read more

The Meursault Investigation

Kamel Daoud

Shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt Winner of the Goncourt du Premier RomanWinner of the Prix des Cinq Continents Winner of the Prix Francois MauriacTHE NOVEL THAT HAS TAKEN THE INTERNATIONAL LITERARY WORLD BY STORMHe was the brother of `the Arab' killed by the infamous Meursault, the antihero of Camus's classic novel. Angry at the world and his own unending solitude, he resolves to bring his br... read more

Shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt Winner of the Goncourt du Premier RomanWinner of the Prix des Cinq Continents Winner of the Prix Francois MauriacTHE NOVEL THAT HAS TAKEN THE INTERNATIONAL LITERARY WORLD BY STORMHe was the brother of `the Arab' killed by the infamous Meursault, the antihero of Camus's classic novel. Angry at the world and his own unending solitude, he resolves to bring his br... read more

Malarky

Anakana Schofield

A wickedly funny and wonderfully deranged literary debut introducing a brilliant new voice in contemporary Irish fiction

A wickedly funny and wonderfully deranged literary debut introducing a brilliant new voice in contemporary Irish fiction

Beneath the Darkening Sky

Majok Tulba

On the day that Obinna’s village is savagely attacked by the rebel army and his father murdered, he witnesses violence beyond his imagination. Along with his older brother he finds himself thrown into a truck when the soldiers leave, to be shaped into an agent of horror — a child soldier. Marched through minefields and forced into battle, enduring a brutal daily existence, Obinna slowly works ... read more

On the day that Obinna’s village is savagely attacked by the rebel army and his father murdered, he witnesses violence beyond his imagination. Along with his older brother he finds himself thrown into a truck when the soldiers leave, to be shaped into an agent of horror — a child soldier. Marched through minefields and forced into battle, enduring a brutal daily existence, Obinna slowly works ... read more

The House of Impossible Beauties

Joseph Cassara

A gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ballroom scene of the 1980s and ’90s, inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ballroom scene, where seventeen-year-... read more

A gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ballroom scene of the 1980s and ’90s, inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ballroom scene, where seventeen-year-... read more

A Siege of Bitterns

Steve Burrows

Newly appointed police inspector Domenic Jejeune doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers. Indeed his success has elevated him into a poster boy for the police. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two worlds... read more

Newly appointed police inspector Domenic Jejeune doesn’t mind ruffling a few feathers. Indeed his success has elevated him into a poster boy for the police. The problem is Jejeune doesn’t really want to be a detective at all; he much prefers watching birds.Recently reassigned to the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain’s premier birding country, Jejeune’s two worlds... read more

Who Will Catch Us As We Fall

Iman Verjee

Haunted by a past that has kept her from Nairobi for over three years, Leena returns home to discover her family unchanged: her father is still a staunch patriot dreaming of a better country; her mother is still an arch traditionalist, unwilling or unable to let go of the past; and her brother, always the rebellious one, spends his days provoking the establishment as a political activist. When... read more

Haunted by a past that has kept her from Nairobi for over three years, Leena returns home to discover her family unchanged: her father is still a staunch patriot dreaming of a better country; her mother is still an arch traditionalist, unwilling or unable to let go of the past; and her brother, always the rebellious one, spends his days provoking the establishment as a political activist. When... read more

Orchid & the Wasp

Caoilinn Hughes

'Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.' – Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See A dazzlingly original debut set in Dublin, London and New York, exploring the ethical underbelly of contemporary society through the coming-of-age of an utterly singular heroine: Gael FoessOrchid & the Wasp brings to life the charged, compulsive voice of Gael Foess – daughter of... read more

'Caoilinn Hughes is a massive talent.' – Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See A dazzlingly original debut set in Dublin, London and New York, exploring the ethical underbelly of contemporary society through the coming-of-age of an utterly singular heroine: Gael FoessOrchid & the Wasp brings to life the charged, compulsive voice of Gael Foess – daughter of... read more

Grace

Paul Lynch

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION & THE WILLIAM SAROYAN INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR WRITING 2018 SELECTED AS A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 BY THE GUARDIAN AND ESQUIRE Early one October morning, Grace’s mother snatches her from sleep and brutally cuts off her hair, declaring, ‘You are the strong one now.’ With winter close at hand and Ireland already suffering, Grace is n... read more

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION & THE WILLIAM SAROYAN INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR WRITING 2018 SELECTED AS A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 BY THE GUARDIAN AND ESQUIRE Early one October morning, Grace’s mother snatches her from sleep and brutally cuts off her hair, declaring, ‘You are the strong one now.’ With winter close at hand and Ireland already suffering, Grace is n... read more

Back Up

Paul Colize

Berlin, 1967: four members of the British rock band Pearl Harbor die at the same time but in separate locations. Inexplicably, the police conclude natural causes are to blame. Brussels, 2010: A homeless man is hit by a car outside the Gare du Midi, leaving him with locked-in syndrome, able to communicate (sometimes) by blinking., An Irish journalist's interest is piqued. How did the members of... read more

Berlin, 1967: four members of the British rock band Pearl Harbor die at the same time but in separate locations. Inexplicably, the police conclude natural causes are to blame. Brussels, 2010: A homeless man is hit by a car outside the Gare du Midi, leaving him with locked-in syndrome, able to communicate (sometimes) by blinking., An Irish journalist's interest is piqued. How did the members of... read more

Reasons She Goes to the Woods

Deborah Davies

When she was good she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid!Pearl can be very, very good. More often, though, she is very, very bad. But she’s just a child. A mystery to all who know her; a little girl who has her own secret reasons for escaping to the nearby woods. What might those reasons be? And how can she feel so at home in the dark, sinister, sensual woods, a wonder of... read more

When she was good she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid!Pearl can be very, very good. More often, though, she is very, very bad. But she’s just a child. A mystery to all who know her; a little girl who has her own secret reasons for escaping to the nearby woods. What might those reasons be? And how can she feel so at home in the dark, sinister, sensual woods, a wonder of... read more

The Water Thief

Claire Hajaj

How much would you risk to right a wrong? From the award-winning author of Ishmael’s Oranges comes a searing novel with a profound moral conflict at its heart.When a heart attack kills his father, young architect Nick abandons his comfortable London life to volunteer abroad for a year – a last chance to prove himself, and atone for old sins.But in a remote village on the edge of the Sahara, da... read more

How much would you risk to right a wrong? From the award-winning author of Ishmael’s Oranges comes a searing novel with a profound moral conflict at its heart.When a heart attack kills his father, young architect Nick abandons his comfortable London life to volunteer abroad for a year – a last chance to prove himself, and atone for old sins.But in a remote village on the edge of the Sahara, da... read more

James has 8 reviews

Professionalism
Professionalism
Quality
Quality
Value
Value
Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Aya Saed
James gave generous, precise, and constructive feedback. He explored the work with extreme care, and left no page and detail unchecked. After reading his editorial assessment, I feel equipped me with a richer understanding of where to deepen my work and where to challenge myself both creatively and technically. I can now go back to the editing process with utmost focus and diligence. I canno...
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Aya Saed, February 2020


Wanjoo Kim
It is my pleasure to recommend James without reservation. James provided a substantive editorial assessment that demonstrated he'd carefully read, understood, and considered my novel. James proffered important actionable suggestions that will, I am certain, better my work. Truly spot-on. His genuine encouragement was also much appreciated. All in all, a very constructive and positive experience.

Wanjoo Kim, October 2019


Anatoli Scholz
I found James' editorial assessment truly helpful, both in the sense of constructive critique and encouragement. I would highly recommend his advice to anyone looking to work with someone rather than just having a "job done". It was great to see that he took his time to not only read my stories, but also come back with a set of analytical questions before returning the assessment. In all fairne...
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Anatoli Scholz, August 2019


Nadine Bjursten
I am very pleased to have worked with James again on another novel. For me, what stands out with James is his keen insight into the emotional states of my characters. I could not be more satisfied with our collaboration.

Nadine Bjursten, August 2019


Laura-Jo McCarthy
James is excellent to work with. He suggested a couple of options based on what I had asked for rather than just accept my initial request. This was extremely helpful with it being my first professional edit. He kept in communication and is very professional. I feel that he understood my manuscript completely and gave me a lot of good stuff to work on! I highly recommend working with James.

Laura-Jo McCarthy, April 2019

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Loma Halden

Friendly, efficient editor and researcher with a deep passion for books and authors. Reading is my pleasure as well as my profession.

London, United Kingdom

Aja Pollock

Making sure your prose sings, your facts and story are straight, and your unique voice shines through.

Austin, United States

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