Tiffany Leeson is the creative director of Egmont Publishing. Egmont are the UK’s leading children’s publisher and sell a staggering one million books and one million magazines each month alone. Leeson has over 22 years of industry experience under her belt, with past jobs in Ladybird, Walker Books, and DeAgostini.
Leeson’s impressive career in children’s publishing is not a self-serving one. She says that she’s “never really viewed my work in children’s books publishing as a vehicle for my career.” Instead, her work is underpinned by her passion for “getting children into reading and books – whether it be a beautiful picture book from Barroux, or a Thomas the Tank Engine reader.” This mission is perhaps more important than ever with mobile devices and digital entertainment now competing for children’s attention.
Leeson has picked up a wealth of wisdom in her career from other publishers and illustrators, some of which she uses in every project. She shares a couple: Anna McQuinn (of DeAgostini Editions) encouraged her to ask the question “how would a child who can’t read understand that spread?” and Liz Wood (of Walker Books) told her “when it comes to cover design, the answer is always inside the book.”
The best part of her job, Leeson says, is the moment when she knows she’s matched the right illustrator to a text – “an illustrator who can really bring more to the text than any of us could ever have briefed or imagined.” The concept of collaboration points to a wider reason she loves her role. Publishing a successful picture book is, at its heart, a team effort and Leeson values working with people “who are all at the top of their game and focused on making a fantastic book.”
Words by Beatrix Calow