Friday Five: Matthew Cole, Non-Fiction Agent at Northbank
Answering the #FridayFive today is audiobook extraordinaire, Craig Thompson.
Tell us a bit about your job?
I am an Acquisitions Editor at WF Howes, the UK’s leading independent audiobook publisher. I currently head up the company’s QUEST imprint, which publishes audiobook editions of bestselling and popular ebooks.
What are the key ingredients for success?
For my job, you need to have a keen analytical eye for consumer trends and be very adaptive and versatile. While I work primarily as a Acquisitions Editor (i.e. buying audio rights), I also have a hand in marketing, contracts, casting, production decisions, cover design, scheduling and pitching titles. You therefore have to not only be able to spot popular trends and potential bestsellers, you also have to switch gears into other departments where necessary.
Describe a normal day?
Where do we start! A normal day would consist of liaising with agents, publishers and authors to discuss audio rights and may including drafting contracts, dealing with author queries and negotiating fees. Alongside this, you may have to work with our in-house studio team to help cast and make production decisions on audiobooks, pitch audiobook to retailers, help with marketing, all the while ensuring you are continually meeting your publishing targets for the year!
For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?
I actually began my working life in a completely different industry. I worked as a Bid Writer/Manager for 4-5 years which gave me some really incredible professional insight into how businesses work, as well as how to collaborate with others. While I was doing this, I was also doing an MA in English Literature during my spare time. This combined experience, gave me a great toolbox from which to break into the industry. My advice to anyone wanting to break into publishing is to get a firm understanding of basic business acumen and knowledge of how the industry works. Having a love of books, will only get you so far!
What are you reading, watching and listening to now?
I am something of a self-confessed genre addict! In terms of audio, I am currently listening to James Lovegrove’s hugely inventive The Age of Ra, which merges high-tech military sci-fi with fantastical mythological gods – what’s not to like! In terms of reading, I am currently doing a part-time PhD on Victorian Gothic, so I am currently reading a 1,166 page penny dreadful named Varney, The Vampyre by James Malcolm Rymer.