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Friday Five: Kate Straker, Publicity Director at Atlantic Books


Answering the #FridayFive today is Kate Straker, Publicity Director at Atlantic Books


Tell us a bit about your job?

I’m part of the publicity team at Atlantic and work across four imprints spanning adult fiction (literary and commercial) and all types of non-fiction. My role is to promote our books and authors via the media through reviews, features and interviews, plus events. I work in conjunction with my colleagues in marketing to shape a campaign from acquisition through to publication day and beyond.

In addition to fostering strong contacts in the media it is important that I work closely with my authors: they need to trust me with their profile and with what I ask them to do. Atlantic publishes a very varied list: I can be working on a highly commercial debut novel whilst also promoting a history of the Renaissance or the diaries of someone who spent time in prison, and getting an insight into these specific worlds is what makes the job such a pleasure.


What are the key ingredients for success?

Publishing should be a collaborative process, so having a really strong team is crucial. Thinking specifically about my role, being interested in a wide range of areas and in the media itself is important. After that, keeping a sense of humour will help!


Could you describe a normal day?

There is no such thing as a normal day! I could be taking part in discussions about books publishing in 12 months’ time, meeting with authors and agents of books we are hoping to buy, pitching to festivals or travelling to events with authors. I will be working on campaigns which are at different stages: for example, chasing final autumn reviews, pitching for February and March titles, and working on a big fiction publication in July next year.


For those trying to break into the industry, could you explain how you got to where you are today?

I studied English at University (few surprises there) and was interested in publishing not only because I loved books but because I was interested in the crossover with current affairs and journalism. After several work experience placements and an internship – whilst also working in a restaurant – I began my first job at an arts PR agency, FMcM. After several really valuable years in-agency I moved in-house and after some time working in illustrated non-fiction I moved to Atlantic in 2017.

My advice would be to keep your options open. Initially, I applied to editorial roles but soon realised that there were whole other departments I hadn’t considered, and that publicity was what really excited me. Volunteer, say yes, offer to help – all these things expand your experience and give you a much broader idea of what publishing can be, quite apart from making strong connections with your colleagues.


What are you reading, watching and listening to right now?

I’m currently reading a brilliant novel we have in on submission, but as that’s confidential I’ll recommend my favourite comfort read: any of Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole novels, one of the best and most endearing comic creations.

My listening is dominated by current affairs podcasts: I’m a long-term fan of the BBC’s Newscast and have added Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell’s The Rest is Politics as well as Global’s The Newsagents to the mix. I’m currently rewatching The Sopranos and wondering, again, why more people my age haven’t seen it!

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