My Job in 5: Sarah O'Halloran, Literary Agent, Madeleine Milburn Agency

My Job in 5: Sarah O'Halloran, Literary Agent, Madeleine Milburn Agency

Describe your role

It’s my job to support the authors I represent through the whole publishing process. This includes everything from working with them editorially and pitching their work to editors, to negotiating contracts on their behalf.

What do you like best about your role?

As a brand new agent actively looking for clients I spend a lot of time looking at submissions and I love the excitement of reading the first few chapters of a manuscript and knowing you’ve found something special.

Which great new titles are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently getting ready to submit two wonderful upmarket commercial fiction titles: one (as-yet-untitled!) follows a violin-maker as a dramatic incident on the Paris Metro throws a clandestine affair into the light. The second is a dual narrative set partially at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in 1981 and explores the fractured relationship between Iris, who lived at the camp, and her daughter Emily, now 40, who was left behind.

What skills help when working as an agent?

The ability to manage your time is key, as is the ability to juggle! You need to be able to trust your own taste and it’s essential to have a good commercial eye.

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?

Take advantage of every opportunity and speak to as many people as possible. If you’re doing an internship in editorial, ask if there are any friendly people in publicity/production/foreign rights who you can speak to about their role.