I have written books. A couple I self-published and there are still gremlins in my head sneering ‘That’s not real publishing, it’s vanity, who cares, you’re not good enough’. That was the same voice asking me who I thought I was as I walked to corridor to meet my PhD supervisor for the first time, incredulous that she had accepted me as her student. I know this voice and these days kind of shrug at it most of the time and move on, move away as I would do from a snide comment from a not so nice kid at school when I was too tall, too thin, too foreign.
The PhD is in the British Library which is the biggest thrill (it meant that I could have a reader’s card for the very rare occassions I was in London with time to kill before my train departed from Euston), and having Into the Woods editted by Kate Taylor and published by Middle Farm Press was a delight; I just loved working as part of a team with Kate and illustrator Anita Wyatt.
Speaking with Sophie Lambert about her career as a literary agent really underlined the importance of having a team around what can be a solitary experience; reading and writing. I had expected that Sophie would talk about her love of reading, but I hadn’t thought about the relational aspect of her work before. She talked about the love of working with writers from idea to publication and the pleasure she finds in working creatively with interesting people.
How often do we have the experience of working creatively with interesting people to bring something new into the world? So many of our teams and our meetings focus on process, data, outcomes, goals. So many are hierarchical, limiting rather than generating ideas and innovation.
In this unprecidented moment where the IPCC report screams at us to make monumental changes to how we live, consume, vote and consume, we need creativity, we need generative teams and innovators, we need new stories to help us imagine ourselves into the future we all need.
You can listen to my podcast with Sophie here.
Sophie Lambert is a literary director and agent who started her career as a bookseller on Charing Cross Road, and became a buyer for Blackwell and later Foyles. In this conversation we talk about the publishing industry and how risk taking can lead you to just the right place.