Quickly following on from our last Meet the Team post, we’re carrying on the Children’s Book Agency theme. This week, it’s the turn of Chloe Davis, the children’s agency assistant, who gives us an insight into what her typical day looks like, as well as how she got into Publishing.
First of all, what is your role at the agency?
I am the Children’s Agency assistant, predominantly supporting Clare Wallace in her role as Agent. I mostly help out where needed, whether that be contacting unsuccessful submitters, checking contracts or just popping out to the post office. I also assist with the agency’s digital content, updating the website, social media and the DA blog on a regular basis.
How did you get into Publishing?
My route into the industry was a fairly straightforward one.
I studied English Literature and French at university but had never really considered Publishing as a possible career path. After graduation, and having unsuccessfully applied for many jobs and internships, I became a Waterstones bookseller for six months, while also undertaking a couple of internships in PR. Having decided fairly quickly that the world of PR wasn’t for me, it dawned on me that books have always made me happy so why not make a career out of it?
A colleague of mine at Waterstones very kindly put me in touch with an editor at Head of Zeus. She arranged for me to start a five-week internship there, where I helped out wherever I could, doing a bit of proofreading here and some social media work there. During this time, an opening came up for a Rights Assistant role in the Children’s department at Pan Macmillan and I decided to take the plunge and apply, despite not knowing much about Rights (an unsung but crucial part of Publishing).
I spent over a year at Macmillan, learning all I could about Rights, even acquiring a few territories of my own and making deals (including selling one of the books into Faroese!). However, after hearing about the agenting side of Publishing from a friend working in an agency, I thought I’d like to give it a go so starting applying to agencies in the hope that I would get a position as an agent’s assistant. Fortunately for me, Clare and Lydia decided to take me on as their assistant in July 2019.
Which book changed your life?
One of the standout books from my childhood is Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. I was a fan of reading from a young age, but I always remember the way Ibbotson’s tale really gripped me and has stayed with me ever since. I remember being totally engrossed – one of my strongest memories is of reading while out for a meal with my family, clearly not at all interested in socialising and feeling rather put out when the food arrived. It was definitely one of the books (if not the book) that started my love affair with literature. I would also credit Roald Dahl’s books for my getting me into reading from a young age, The Twits being one of my personal favourites!
What do you look for in a book?
In terms of children’s books, I’m mostly drawn to middle grade stories with an element of adventure or mystery to them – you can’t go wrong with a good mystery featuring lots of twists and turns. A touch of humour is always a plus, and I do enjoy stories that are a little wacky!
When reading for pleasure (not that anyone in Publishing actually has time for it…), I like a book with a story I can follow and I always look for strong characters – one of my favourite authors is Charles Dickens, mostly because of his ingenious characterisation skills. I also love Daphne du Maurier for her strong female characters and use of suspense to keep the reader hooked.