Describe your role.
I am responsible for the overall running of the agency, be it overseeing the process by which our clients receive their money or recruiting new members of staff. I am also involved in deciding and implementing company strategies. As a literary agent I find talented new writers, help get their work ready for submission, negotiate contracts on the author’s behalf and support them throughout their career. If publishing is bookfocused, then agenting is very much focused on the author.
What do you like best about your role?
I love discussing and planning strategy, and seeing that strategy pay off. As a literary agent, nothing beats that tingle of excitement you get when you come across a fantastic submission. Developing a strong relationship with an author is a real joy. And, of course, seeing our writers become established, bestselling authors is incredibly rewarding.
Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
I am building a list dedicated to historical fiction. I am looking forward to submitting three titles very soon—one set in the immediate aftermath of the English Civil War, in a country still reeling from the killing of a king; another in rural England during the Second World War; and the other amid the powdered wigs and philosophical debates of Georgian England.
What skills do you need for your role?
A love of reading—never underestimate how much reading you have to do; an ability to get on with people; passion for your authors and their work; a hunger for pitching and negotiating; a love of puzzles (royalty statements can be perplexing). Did I mention reading?
What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Read as much as you can. Don’t give up—the job market is competitive but there will be something out there perfect for you. Do your research and target the companies that are most in line with your skills and interests (get hold of a copy of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook to help with this). Think long-term—where do you want to be in five years’ time and how do you want to get there? If in doubt, apply, and meet the people you’ll be working with. Internships can be a great way to get started, with an increasing number of companies now paying. Good luck!