As it’s World Book Day, we decided to search out a job you’ve never thought of in the book publishing industry. Anna Steadman is the rights manager at Lutyens & Rubinstein book agency. We had a chat with her to find out all about her job and what advice she would give to someone who wants to go into publishing.
What does your job actually involve?
I look after the translation rights and other subsidiary rights (eg audio) for the books that we represent. We work with co-agents in a lot of countries, but I deal directly in others, like Scandinavia and the Netherlands. My average day involves a lot of emails; people enquiring about rights to books, negotiating contracts for deals I’ve already done, organising mailouts. And at the moment we’re gearing up for the London Book Fair, which is in April. That’s a big event in the calendar for us.
Have you sold the rights to any famous books?
Probably the best known is The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year and has just been published in the US to glowing reviews. As an agency we represent a diverse range of writers whose books range from crime fiction to cookery, from literary to commercial, as well as non-fiction, YA and lots of things in between. It makes my job really interesting.
How did you get into publishing?
It’s an unusual route I took into it actually. There’s a bookshop attached to our agency so I started working for my bosses the month before the bookshop opened and then I worked in the bookshop for the first six months or so and then moved over to the agency. And then I became rights manager at the beginning of last year.
Did you need qualifications to get your job?
I did an English degree at UCL but I always knew I wanted to go into publishing so I did internships in the summer and things. I don’t think an English degree is essential though, one of the agents here did an Art History degree, but the vast majority of people have an English degree. I think it’s a passion for literature really; a lot of people who feel very passionately about books studied English but not necessarily all of them.
What’s the best part of your job?
The sheer amount of people from around the world that I get to talk to. And when you really love a book, seeing people from such different parts of the world loving it too, and the different editions that they do.
And what’s the worst part of your job?
I think the worst part of my job is tax exemption forms, they are the bane of my life! There can be a lot of admin in selling books all over the world.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into publishing?
I’d suggest widening your horizons. Most people start off thinking they want to work in editorial, because it’s the best known department of a publishing house, but do consider interning and/or applying for an entry level job in a different department of a publishing house: marketing, publicity, digital, rights. It won’t hurt your chances of getting a job in editorial later on if that’s still what you want to do, but there are lots of other jobs in publishing (and in a literary agency!) that you might not have thought of but could end up loving.
Anna talks about books (and occasionally West Ham) on her Twitter: @annasteadman
As it’s World Book Day, we’ve been chatting all day at GoThinkBig Towers about our favourite books so we asked Anna about hers too she said that she loves ‘The End of The Affair’ by Graham Greene.
And just for a bit of insight, here are our favourite books:
• Molly, editor – The Secret History by Donna Tartt
• Sarah, head of youth opportunities – Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
• Jackie, project manager – Made To Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
• Maria, project manager – David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
• Stevie, writer – The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
• Dan, web producer – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
And we asked our Twitter followers, here’s what they said: