DHH Agency celebrates decade in business with expansion and major deals

DHH Agency celebrates decade in business with expansion and major deals

The DHH Literary Agency is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month with an expansion accompanied by a string of major debut writer deals signed through lockdown Zoom sessions.

The literary agency, overseen by m.d. and director David Headley (pictured), has grown from a team of five to seven, with translation rights moving in-house. Agent Helen Edwards has joined to work part-time on translation rights while continuing with her own agency, looking after US rights, while former Vintage sales director Tom Drake Lee has joined as associate agent, working across fiction and non-fiction. 

There have also been two staff recently promoted: agent Harry Illingworth became a director in December while Emily Glenister will combine her role as Headley’s assistant with being an associate agent. 

To accommodate its growth, the company has moved from its former headquarters at the Cecil Court London shop, Goldsboro Books, which Headley also runs, to Burleigh Mansion on Charing Cross Road. 

The last few months have seen the agency achieve a number of major deals with Victoria Selman's Truly, Darkly, Deeply pre-empted by Quercus for six figures while director Broo Dogherty will see Victorian thriller The Planthunter by Thomas Mogford published as a lead title by Wellbeck in February. Illingworth recently negotiated a six-figure pre-empt with Orbit for a fantasy trilogy by Richard Swan in a six-figure deal. 

The agency has also achieved a bumper crop of deals from its "Pitch DHH" Zoom sessions, through which it discovered new voices during lockdown. An event in December saw three authors scooped up now with major deals. Director Hannah Sheppard recently secured a pre-empt for Sarah Bonner’s debut while Glenister took on Heather Darwent from the same session, subsequently selling her debut thriller for a six-figure pre-empt to Viking. Vikki Patis was also taken on by Glenister from the same pitching session, her historical mystery was sold — under the pen name Victoria Hawthorne — to Quercus. 

Headley told The Bookseller of his pride in the company which turns 10 on 24th June, saying: “Celebrating 10 years of DHH is a proud achievement. It always feels an honour and privilege to represent amazing clients and their incredible stories. Seeing a manuscript develop into a book on bookshelves, particularly in Goldsboro, is always a thrill. We’ve had, as an agency, a very successful couple of years with clients winning major awards, achieving top 10 bestsellers and enjoying international successes."

He added that, like many other agencies, its authors' backlists proved fruitful over lockdown. "Whilst 2020 presented new challenges for us all we did see an increase in sales in our clients' backlist. The company is in a very strong position to grow and achieve greater successes for our clients.” 

The shortlist for the Glass Bell Prize, which the company runs, was announced on 18th June. Headley described it as “the most diverse list in the five years since we established the prize”. It was dominated by debuts such as Richard Osman's bestseller The Thursday Murder Club (Viking) and Abi Daré (pictured) for The Girl with the Louding Voice (Sceptre).