Friday Five: Matthew Cole, Non-Fiction Agent at Northbank
Answering the #FridayFive today is Sophie Clarke, Junior Scout at Daniela Schlingmann Literary Scouting.
Tell us a bit about your job?
I work for Daniela Schlingmann Literary Scouting. Our clients are foreign publishers and we advise them about what is being published and considered for publication in the UK that they might want to buy for translation into their own markets. Broadly speaking, half of my job is talking to editors, agents, and rights agents here in the UK to discuss what they are buying and selling, and half of my job is reading those texts and discussing them with our clients.
What are the key ingredients for success?
Key for success is being exceptionally curious (some might even say nosy) and good at talking to people and building relationships. You should have a good awareness of and knowledge of the UK market, what is selling well here, as well as which agents and editors deal with which kinds of books. But mostly you should be able to deal with absolutely tons of information – lots of emails, reading quickly, writing reports for clients – which is all happening at once, and want to learn, every day, more about the various international markets of our clients.
Describe a normal day?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a normal day – I get in, look at my to do list, readjust all priorities as I deal with emails, and then crack on, fuelled by lots of tea. At the minute, so close to the fairs, I might have a breakfast meeting with an editor, followed by a meeting with a rights agent, then back to the office, type up my notes, read a book and write up my thoughts, update the clients on anything urgent, and try to clear my email inbox back down to zero before I leave.
For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?
I didn’t even know publishing existed as an industry until my friend got an internship with a literary agent after our second year of university. I didn’t know scouting existed as a job until I got my first publishing job! I did two stints of work experience, each a month long, years apart from each other. Then after I left my postgraduate study of children’s literature, I got a job at a charity in London and commuted from Cambridge, using the time to go to every single networking event and panel that I could. Then I got a job at PRH Children’s as the editorial assistant for six months, then interned at Curtis Brown, then worked as an agency assistant at Bell Lomax Moreton, and now I’ve worked as a scout for a year. I got to where I am with a huge amount of luck, learning as much as possible at each job, talking to absolutely everybody I could and by being hosted for those two stints of work experience way back when by kind and understanding friends.
What are you reading, watching and listening to now?
Ok – so I am always reading about 17 books at once, but recently I’ve devoured the most recent Ben Aaronovitch, False Value, loads of ice hockey romances, particularly those by Sarina Bowen, really enjoyed reading Chloe Seager’s My Type on Paper, and I’m beside myself to read The Mirror and the Light. Watching – I’m binge watching Ragnarok, a Norwegian series about the Norse gods coming back as teenagers in a small town where the frost giants have been living for thousands of years in disguise, and I really enjoyed watching the most recent film adaptation of Emma. Listening – I’ve always got a Jeeves and Wooster audiobook on the go, I like the radio drama adaptations with Michael Hordern and Richard Briers, but mainly you can find me listening to the Off Menu podcast, Fall Out Boy, or my mum’s sage life advice over the phone on my walk to work.