Meet team Picador: Sophie Jonathan
At least ten people work on each book that Picador publishes, all helping to get the author’s words into the hands of readers: there’s contracts and rights, editorial and publicity, production and design, sales and marketing... Find out what all those jobs entail and see what makes the Picador team tick when it comes to books, reading and publishing.
Describe your job in two lines.
I’m an editor at Picador so I commission literary fiction and narrative non-fiction as well as working alongside Paul Baggaley, Picador Publisher, on some books, and I publish the Picador Classic list.
How did you get into publishing?
Just after graduating I got a temporary job working for Dorling Kindersley Travel guides. At the time the DK travel desks were on the same floor as Penguin Press so, on my last day, I walked around to Penguin to ask for some work experience. Over the next few months I did lots of stints of work experience at Penguin and at other publishing firms which resulted in a freelance marketing role at Penguin Press. It was part time so whilst there I also did some work experience with the publicity department at Pan Macmillan. The following summer I was offered the publicity assistant job at Pan Macmillan and so, a year after I graduated, I’d finally made it in! Ten months later, the Picador editorial assistant job came up, and I jumped at the chance.
What do you love about it?
It’s just brilliant being able to work in an environment where everyone is as passionate about reading and about the books they are working on as you are. And of course the icing on the cake is that I get to work with authors whose writing I genuinely love and hugely admire. I sometimes think that day-to-day I must have the best job in the world.
What was the book that got you hooked on reading?
That is almost impossible to answer, but I do remember that, as a child, I was totally obsessed with Penguins Progress by Jill Tomlinson. That was the book that established my ‘library’ (I went on to sticker every book in the house, only allowing my parents and siblings access to the books if they went through the proper processes and took them out on loan…).
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in publishing?
Read, read, read. Get as much work experience as possible. Smile, be helpful and enthusiastic and LISTEN. Publishing offices are all open-plan these days, you can learn so much about a fascinating industry just by being in the building.
Favourite place to read?
I do love a hammock if I can find one.
Desert island book?
There is no way I can answer that, the thought makes me panic. Give me 10 books and I’ll consider it.
Favourite Shakespeare play?
Hmmm I do love that A Midsummer Night’s Dream feels like an endless joyful, baffling gallop, but I’m also a sucker for Much Ado just for the joy of revisiting the Beatrice / Benedick sparring matches again and again. And I saw an all-male production of The Winter’s Tale long ago that made me LOVE that play, and Othello, obviously… I can’t decide.
My husband’s sister read Meeting Point by Louis MacNeice at our wedding, so that’s a very special one for me.
Booka Books in Oswestry is delightful and always buzzing. It’s well worth following them on Twitter just to see the photographs of their incredible window artwork. And Waterstones in Farnham is always a very happy place to be.
Elevator pitch for the most recent book you acquired.
I’ve just acquired a brilliant book called Killing It by Camas Davis. It’s a memoir about love, loss, heartbreak and learning to become a butcher. Enough said I think!
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