Meet the staff: Clara Platter

Over the past few months, our editorial team has undergone major transformations, welcoming *three* new members! We thought it was high time to introduce you to them and their work—next up in the hot seat is Editor Clara Platter

Can you tell us a little about your role at NYU Press? What subjects do you work on?
I acquire in History with a special focus on race, gender, and sexuality in the United States and with a new emphasis on early American history. I also acquire in Law where my focus is constitutional, criminal and immigration law as well as law and society and legal history. I evaluate submissions in a variety of disciplines and commission projects directly from scholars.

Where did you work before coming to NYU Press?
Before coming to NYU I spent a year with the Perseus Books Group at the imprint PublicAffairs, and before that Princeton University Press acquiring in history for both. For Princeton I edited a series called Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America and at PublicAffairs I looked for general interest history titles with special relevance to current events. I began my career at the University of Georgia Press while in college at UGA, where I worked as an intern for the publicist and then as a marketing assistant entering UGA books for awards. It’s been a long straight shot in a way, with only one year away from academic publishing. I’m so delighted to be at NYU Press now. I’m never leaving.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?
I think just the sheer exposure to so many smart people. I love that my job lets me talk to the most interesting scholars about their work, and that as a non-specialist I can ask as many questions as I want. It’s good for the brain, having so many little pools of knowledge to dive into.

What’s the most obscure subject/project you’ve ever worked on?
As an assistant at Princeton I worked for a wonderful editor called Robert Kirk who acquires in ornithological field guides (among other things). They were the most beautiful books, and working on them meant handling these extraordinary handmade drawings of birds.

What are you reading these days? Got a favorite NYU Press book?
Too many at once! I’m finally reading Douglas Blackmon’s important book Slavery by Another Name, and Peter Brown’s beautiful new Through the Eye of a Needle. I just read the page proofs for Jill Norgren’s amazing book Rebels at the Bar which is forthcoming from NYU this spring. I work next door to the Strand bookstore and the other day I picked up the most wonderful thing, it’s Stephen King’s On Writing and I have to say it’s about the best book about writing I’ve read in a long time. My favorite in the genre is probably Annie Dillard’s Living by Fictionalthough it’s a very different book in many ways. I like books about writing, and about publishing–I can’t wait to read our own Spreadable Media (forthcoming January 2013) for example, and I have Planned Obsolescence in my stack as well.

Any insider tips to tackling the great city of New York?
I have only lived in New York for two years so I don’t have any great advice yet, except that you really should leave your good shoes under your desk and not wear them in the street, and that Korean food by Penn Station is absolutely delicious.

What’s your most preferred way of reading these days? Good ol’ book or fancy schmancy e-reader?
Good ol’ book. Although I read the New Yorker on my iPad.

Have you ever received any great advice about your jobs from a colleague or a mentor?
The advice I always give to people who want to become an editor is to try to work for the best editor you can, and basically study them. How they write, how they evaluate projects, how they talk to authors, how they build a list. Don’t worry about how quickly you can acquire and just learn as much as you can and try to work on as many books as possible, taking on more and more responsibility. It’s a great way to become incredibly well trained, and the editor you work for will likely be grateful and help you in your career for years to come. For me that person was Brigitta van Rheinberg at Princeton. She’s an extraordinary editor who has fun with her work, a great combination in my opinion. She is at once highly demanding and always laughing. I try to be that way too!

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