The Founder and Lead Editor: Ameesha Smith-Green

As a child, I named my teddies after philosophers and spent a lot of time with my head stuck in a book. At school, I proofread my friend’s essays, with an eagle eye for errors. I studied English Literature and Philosophy at the red-brick University of Birmingham, where my favourite place was the dusty, old library. More than just learning what makes a great book, I learned to always think and question what I saw.

I graduated during recession, when jobs were scarce, and ended up working in HR—a solid, reliable job—but my heart was with publishing. So, on weekends and evenings, I developed an editing side hustle. Through word of mouth, I gained my first book editing contract, a complex beast with 12 co-authors.

A few books later, I landed an editorial role at a small, niche publisher in the city, taking a hefty pay cut for my dream job. Half of the role was editing and proofreading books, the other half helping non-native editors to improve their English skills, which was hugely rewarding. Plus, I got to see the publishing industry from the inside and work on literally hundreds of books.

It might come as a surprise that after a few years, I quit! Not just the job, but normal life. I travelled the world for a year, with just a handful of clothes and a laptop. I worked on the road, on beaches, beside swimming pools, in bars, cafes, and laundrettes. Essentially anywhere with a plug socket and Wi-Fi.

Back home, I was offered a stable job, but I wanted to forge my own path without “the man”, so I carried on freelancing. The first six months were gruelling, but I was approached by a New York Times bestselling author to critique his next book and my brutally honest approach led to an abundance of projects with authors who truly wanted objective feedback to improve their books.

Over the next few years, I worked with over 80 authors—from critiques to hands-on editing. By June 2018, I was maxed out and booked up, but I wanted to help more authors than my schedule could accommodate, so I started The Book Shelf Ltd. Since then, I’ve developed a small team with as deep a love of books as I have, and together we continue to grow.