Nelle Andrew, an agent at PFD, was one of The Bookseller's Rising Stars of 2016. One of her first clients was Gilly Macmillan, whose début Burnt Paper Sky was a Piatkus superlead and sold into 17 territories, while Catherine Chanter’s The Well won the Lucy Cavendish Prize and was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. Andrew now reps over 30 clients, including bestsellers Bryony Gordon and Elizabeth Day. Here she shares the role that technology plays in her working life.
I only joined Twitter six months ago, so in that sense I'm definitely a Luddite - but then I am addicted to my IPhone! I am not into fads or trends when it comes to tech; I don’t care about what looks good, or what is sleek and shiny. What matters to me is – will this make a difference in my life? Will this give me a better experience? There has to be a reason for it – so as long as it has a purpose, I am open to all technological advancements.
My iPhone crashing is my husband’s worst nightmare because I become a panicked, tantrum throwing mess. Honestly, my life is on that phone, especially because of work emails. It is the last thing I check and the first thing I see after my alarm (which is on my phone!) goes off. My husband got a Samsung phone and I ripped the piss out of him the whole time during his contract because it was sooooooo crap. He’s now swapped. You’re welcome Apple.
However, I also need to write things down in a good old fashioned pen and paper way. There is something about that act which gives me pause and makes my thought process that much smoother and that much stronger, so all my notes are still in a notebook.
The main way technology has changed the way I work over the past couple of years is around the issue of availability. I never stop; I am always on. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. It can mean I just fire off things without taking time to digest and consider, so in one sense it makes me hugely proactive and progressive but in another, I have to constantly check in with myself to make sure I am not just reacting to things, but genuinely pausing and thinking to myself, should I say this? Should I wait? How best to manage this?
It also means holidays aren’t really holidays. The astonishing thing is, I had to turn off emails last year because I was driving down the PCT in California and had to turn off my phone. Also I was nine hours behind, so no issue could be resolved due to the time difference…and when I did turn my emails on (once – I cheated), I remember I was in a food court in LA desperately waving my phone around for signal like a moron, and every single email had been dealt with; because people found a way to resolve the issue when I wasn’t available.
Social media is one big echo chamber, but when the echoes are hateful, cruel, abusive voices, that is just a magnifier of the worst of us. It’s why I tried to stay off Twitter for so long. So I think I ultimately hate it – because it brings out the worst in people. People don’t have to see the other person’s face when they tell them the most hideous of things – it allows us to become objects unworthy of respect and empathy. Is it necessary? Yes. Is it a good thing? No – because modern society isn’t built to handle the cultural ramifications properly. I think our moral advancement is slower than our technological one.
When it comes to online inspiration, I love curating certain papers (NY Times and Magazines), Buzzfeed and certain voices (Cheryl Strayed, DEAR SUGAR). I am not a blog girl, but I do love The Pool - sometimes it can be a little white middle class for me, but ultimately I always fine its discussions on female issues resonant.
I resist tech as an arbiter of opinion or a secure place of information. I use it to curate and have access to voices I already deem worthy. I think technology makes us faster and more accessible, but I feel we also need to be mindful of what we are accessing and sometimes appreciate that to hesitate is not a weakness, but a form of consideration that can stop us from the next step that takes us over the cliff, rather than the action which prevents us from lifting off.