My Job in 5: Sarah O'Halloran, Literary Scout, Louise Allen-Jones

My Job in 5: Sarah O'Halloran, Literary Scout, Louise Allen-Jones

Describe your role?

As a literary scout I work across fiction and non-fiction with a particular focus on children’s and YA titles. Our clients are international publishing houses in 11 different territories and it’s our job to inform them about titles with translation potential that are either on submission or have recently been sold to UK editors. And, of course, we do an awful lot of reading.

Which do you enjoy about your role?

Because we need to keep track of everything from commercial memoirs to literary fiction, scouting provides you with an incredible overview of the UK market. A large part of my role is building relationships with agents, editors and foreign rights professionals and it’s wonderful to be paid to talk to enthusiastic, dedicated people about the books they’re working on.

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

There’s a lot on submission at the moment because of both the Bologna and the London Book Fairs, but I’m a scout so I’m afraid it’s all top secret!

Explain how being a scout is different from being an agent?

Agents and scouts actually do incredibly different jobs, despite misleadingly similar job titles. Agents sell rights and earn commission from the deals they make on behalf of their authors, whereas scouts don’t sell rights but are paid a retainer by international publishers to provide them with information on the UK market.

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

Talk to as many people as possible about what they do because there are a huge number of roles in publishing that you might not be aware of. I was head of special events for the Society of Young Publishers last year so I won’t pass up this opportunity to suggest you join the SYP, which does a wonderful job supporting people at the beginning of their publishing career.