Describe your role.
I am assistant to the team at Jo Unwin Literary Agency, supporting three exceptional agents and a group of truly wonderful, funny and talented authors including Kit de Waal, Candice Carty-Williams and Gabriel Krauze. I am involved in various goings on across the agency: reading lots, giving editorial feedback, advocating for authors—and not forgetting the highlight—putting together our Frankfurt Book Fair catalogue!
What do you enjoy about your role?
Early editorial work. Being part of the initial editorial discussions—unpicking the story that an author wants to tell and seeing an idea take shape—is completely fascinating. Unsurprisingly, finding a great submission in the inbox. Even if it doesn’t end up being one for our agency, getting the first look at a book you know is really special still feels really exciting.
What are you working on at the moment?
It is a particularly busy time, lots of Frankfurt admin and getting people excited about the books we love. We’ve had the honour of working with Dr Lucy Easthope, the country’s foremost specialist in emergency planning and recovery. Her memoir is a fascinating deep dive into the little-known profession and into a lifetime of supporting communities through their most troubled times.
What skills do you need for your role?
It really is a mixed bag. Good interpersonal skills—so much of the role is about building good relationships with clients, your team and colleagues in the industry. It makes things much easier if you are an administrative whizz. It also helps to have an interest in the mechanics of storytelling: what makes the plot work and characters captivating, and which books are popular, or would be if they existed.
What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Have you always proofread your friends’ work? Do you have to tell everyone about a book you’ve read or film you have seen? Are you always correcting family members on the historical accuracy of their stories? Find out where your skills and interests lie and use this as your springboard.Also, if you are of African descent, the Black Agents and Editors’ Group offers mentorship opportunities.