Former Orion editor Julia Silk is forging a new career path as a literary agent in association with MBA Literary Agents.
Silk, who has worked as an editor for 15 years, most recently with Orion, will be building her own client list with a focus on commercial fiction, crime and thrillers, extending to accessible literary fiction "if a voice really grabbed me".
She is also open to proposals for "platform-driven non-fiction", in the areas of parenting and lifestyle, fashion, style and beauty, as well as narrative non-fiction and memoir.
Silk will be working independently with back-room support from the MBA Literary Agents team, in an arrangement fostered by joint m.d. at MBA Laura Longrigg, who also previously worked as an editor for HarperCollins, Heinemann and Penguin.
Her first client is Sarah Waights, a Good Housekeeping novel award finalist, and "a fabulously witty and irreverent new voice in commercial women's fiction".
Silk said: "I've had my eye on her for ages and I'm completely thrilled to have signed her as my first client."
Silk's change in direction follows the closure of Orion's e-only vintage crime imprint, the Murder Room, in January. Of its closure, Silk said there had been “good reasons” to discontinue it, and, while she had “learned a huge amount” from her time on the project, she had felt “really ready to move on”, calling it a “natural end” to her 10-year tenure with Orion.
She commented: “You get to a certain point when you’ve been in-house for a long time and you think ‘what’s the next stage on this path’ and then you become less sure that you want the next stage of that path… It became really appealing to me to be able to work with authors through their career rather than having to watch them go or to leave myself and that can happen in an editor’s career – you work with people and then you move on from each other. I like to do a bit of everything as well; I love to edit, I love to work closely with authors, I love to negotiate contracts, so all those things come together in being an agent in a way they don’t in quite the same way [in editorial]. You’re pitching and selling in a different way. You’re really working for an author as an agent and it doesn’t work quite that way as an editor."
"I thought now is a good opportunity to do what I’ve wanted to do for a while,” she said, adding: “Having seen it from that side [editorial], I feel equipped to go in with everything that I need to sell to an editor.”