My Job in 5: Hannah Whitty

My Job in 5: Hannah Whitty

Describe your role.
A typical day might involve liaising with an editor or designer at a publisher to help them find the right artist for a project, working closely with one of our author/illustrators to help them develop a picture book concept for us to pitch to publishers, negotiating the terms of a contract on behalf of an illustrator, or meeting with an illustrator to give them guidance and feedback on their work and portfolio.

What do you like best about your role?
By far my favourite aspect of being an agent is helping an illustrator develop their artwork and seeing them grow as an artist. There is nothing more rewarding than getting a hard-working artist their first book deal—it’s an absolute joy! I also love working with illustrators on developing exciting new ideas for books that they can then pitch to publishers.

Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
We’ve been busy freshening up portfolios and helping our author/illustrators develop book ideas. I’ve just finished developing a series of picture books, middle-grade fiction and non-fiction concepts with our authors and illustrators, ready to showcase on the Plum Pudding stand at Bologna.

What skills do you need for your role?
More than anything, it’s important to have a passion for children’s illustration and literature, and to be personable. You tirelessly showcase artists’ work and authors’ concepts to editors and designers, and sometimes you are the only guide an illustrator or author who is new to the industry has. So it’s important to be kind, empathetic and motivated.

What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
Do as much work experience as you can. While agency experience is ideal, if that’s not possible, work at a publishing house will serve you just as well. Apply to as many agencies as you can, but don’t send out an impersonal, mass email. You’re more likely to get a look-in if we can see you’re interested in us as a company, so approach them all individually.