Friday Five: Matthew Cole, Non-Fiction Agent at Northbank
Answering this week’s #FridayFive is Clare Gordon, Assistant Editor at Head of Zeus. Clare is currently working on Pixie Turner‘s upcoming book, The Insta-Food Diet: How Social Media Has Shaped the Way We Eat.
Tell us a bit about your job?
I’m an assistant editor, so a good chunk of my time is spent supporting the three publishers I report into – across commercial and literary fiction and non-fiction. I do get to have a few projects of my own too, so at the moment that includes books on the influence of social media on how we eat and the rise and fall of populist movements in Latin America.
What are the key ingredients for success?
I think it comes down to genuinely really caring about what you do, and a desire to go above and beyond your job description. For me, the two very much go hand in hand: I love what I do, so I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about how I can do more and how we as a company can do more.
Describe a normal day?
We’re finishing off our second week of working from home due to the Covid–19 pandemic, so now none of my days are what I used to consider normal! We have an department catchup every morning to make sure we’re all up-to-date with the latest relevant developments, and to make sure everyone is doing alright, but other than that my days vary a lot. An average day would include some (but not usually all of): writing copy, briefing covers, checking corrections, updating our data online, speaking to authors, speaking with my publishers about what they need me to do, supporting our sales, marketing and publicity teams – and just generally getting books to press.
For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?
I’m one of what feels like a very small minority in publishing that didn’t study English at university – I have a degree in French and Spanish – but I had a strong sense that I wanted to work in books by the time I finished. I got very lucky and was offered a job from my second internship – at Head of Zeus, where I still work three years later – and I spent a couple of years working in marketing and PR before moving into editorial, which feels like exactly the right place for me.
What are you reading, watching and listening to now?
I’ve just finished reading The Chain by Adrian McKinty, which I was really excited about, but found it didn’t quite live up to its brilliant concept. I’ve moved on, though, to the first non-fiction book by one of our brilliant novelists, Sophie Hardach. It’s about languages, their wonderful quirks and the amazing good they do us. It’s extremely interesting. In terms of what I’m watching, I’m basically tearing through anything on Netflix at the moment, since my social life no longer exists!