Claire King

Author
Claire King Edited Choices (10 of 10)

Posts Tagged ‘Literary Agents’

A new layer of bureaucracy?

Posted on: October 22nd, 2011 by Claire - 42 Comments

I received this email today. What is it? Can any literary agents out there tell me if this is a filtering process they are looking into?

“Friday 20 October 2011

Dear Writer

Brit Writers was born with one aim… to make the publishing world accessible to everyone, regardless of age or background. As you know, Brit Writers is the UK’s largest writing project and awards for new and unpublished writers.  With our network of literary experts, agents, publishers and industry insiders growing by the day and 2 million children, their parents and teachers involved in our schools programmes, we are recognised as the champions of change. 

We are still the new kids on the block, but two years on and amidst bookshops closing down and publishers resorting to celebrity deals in order to stay afloat, Brit Writers continues to scale new heights in the world of publishing and has seen our authors successfully published and even become best selling and award winning literary stars.

During the last year, a number of partner agents have asked us to help them identify potential literary gems to save them ploughing through their slush pile. Therefore we have been asked to find potential ‘sign-ups’ for agents in the following genres:

  • ·        Novels: commercial and literary fiction
  • ·        Books for Children
  • ·        Short stories and Poetry for anthologies

How to apply:

If you feel your work is of a high enough standard and you would like to be considered for referral to an agent, please apply by emailing the following information tohari@britwriters.co.uk.

1.     A covering letter attached as a word document (not in an email) including: A short biography (no more than 300 words) – stating who you are, your writing genre, how long you have been writing, your aspirations and targets for getting published. Below your biography, please tell us if your work has been professionally appraised or critiqued in the past and by whom (please attach any reports etc.). Also whether you have had an agent in the past, or which agents have already seen your work, and if so who they were.

2.     A synopsis of your work (as a separate attachment) – maximum one page

3.     Depending on what you are submitting, please attach as follows:

  • ·        Novels: 3 chapters of your novel in addition to the synopsis
  • ·        Books for children: up to 5000 words in length, please send the entire story in addition to the synopsis (if you have illustrations then you should include them).
  • ·        Books for children: over 5000 words, attach 3 chapters in addition to the synopsis
  • ·        Short stories: the complete work in addition to the synopsis
  • ·        Poetry: between 3 and 5 poems of no more than 40 lines per poem in addition to the synopsis  

Format for all of the above:

Arial font, 11pt, 1.5 line spacing.

The title page should state your name, address, telephone/mobile number, email address and target audience for your book.

Please only apply if you feel your work is of a high standard.

Deadline for submissions for this initiative: 6pm Tuesday 25th October 2011

Terms:

By making an application for referral to an agent you give consent to Brit Writers to share your work and contact details with our partner agents. Brit Writers does not guarantee referral of your work to agents. Brit Writers decision is final as to whether your work is referred or not. If your work is referred you are aware that agents may charge a commission of between 7% and 15% if your work is successfully published through them. A maximum of 3 submissions may be sent. Each submission must be clearly labelled and submitted in separate documents.

We look forward to receiving your submissions.

Kind regards

Hari

Hari Kumar

Brit Writers Agents Division”

 

Please note I do not endorse this intiative. I am simply interested in who actually does.

For previous thread on the same organisation please see Too Good to be True (about their publishing scheme)

Literary Agent Responses – How long is normal?

Posted on: June 29th, 2011 by Claire - 34 Comments

This week I had a response from a literary agent to a submission I sent out 8 months ago (and withdrew 8 months minus one week ago). It was a slightly surreal reminder of the submissions process (and for information, it was a rejection)…


When I was submitting I kept an excel spreadsheet of my submission dates, to whom I submitted, the initial response time etc and I thought it might be time to share. This was my process for finding an agent:

1) Look in the Writers and Artists Yearbook for agents that handle literary fiction, accept unsolicited submissions and were currently open to submissions from new authors.

2) Consider which authors my writing is similar to, and find out who represents them.

3) Draw up a long list of agencies, then check out their websites, google them and see where they have turned up on the web, what novels they have sold, articles they have written, etc etc.

4) Draw up a shortlist of 20, take a deep breath, start sending out queries in batches of four or five.

5) Wait

I don’t know if that’s a good process or not, but it felt right to me.

In the end I submitted to eleven agents before signing with Annette in early November. Of those agents, six hadn’t yet responded, so I wrote to them, and e-mailed, to withdraw my manuscript.

Of those six, three replied by email the same day, to say thank you for letting them know, congratulations and good luck. The three that replied had variously had my submission for 3 months, 6 weeks and 1 week.

Of the remaining three, one never replied. One responded to my original submission in January this year and one replied to my original submission this week, after having had the submission for 8 months!

Is 8 months normal for a response?

For those of you who have work out on submission at the moment, how long do you consider is reasonable for a response? What does an eight-month high slush pile even look like?

In other stats – for the five agents who responded to my initial submission:
One replied after a month to say their slushpile was too big and they had stopped accepting submissions.
Two rejected – One after two weeks, one after three weeks.
Two requested full – both requests arrived 6 days after I posted the query + 3 chapters (from France to the UK). And then pretty fast turnarounds for the fulls – two weeks for one agent and four days for the other…resulting in The Call.

Getting a rejection from an agent saying this: “With such a full list of clients, it is rare that we are able to take on new authors – and then only with material we are extremely confident of placing with a publisher.  Regretfully, we do not feel that your work fits into that category.” several months after Annette sold my novel to Bloomsbury doesn’t have the sting to that it would if I were still looking for an agent. But it’s a sharp reminder that this industry is so incredibly risk averse and subjective.

Wishing all of you slush-pile warriors courage and the best of luck.

 

No-one is buying debut novels

Posted on: May 24th, 2011 by Claire - 53 Comments

No-one is buying debut novels these days. Publishers don’t want them. Agents don’t want to take on new writers because they can’t sell debuts. Booksellers are closing down and the way forward is 99cent ebooks. It’s all doom and gloom out there. So why bother? The chances are infinitesimally slim that you will ever get the book deal your heart is set on. Why not go to the pub, or get comfy and watch re-runs of Friends instead?

‘They’ would have us believe that this is true. I wonder if the reason ‘They’ would have it that way is because ‘They’ are writing their own books and don’t want the competition? Maybe not. Maybe just because dismal news seems to sell. Unlike debut novels.

But wait!

For about 18 months now I’ve been using Twitter to meet and chat with writers all around the world. A few of them were already published writers, but most were like myself – scraping time to write in jam-packed days, entering writing competitions, occasionally getting shortlisted, or getting short pieces accepted in literary magazines. For me it’s been one of the best things I ever did in my writing career – in my Twitter stream I’ve found encouragement, wisdom, cheerleading, information, coaching, tips, consolation…and I hope I’ve managed to give back, which is in the spirit of Twitter.

And recently, in the last few months, some of the debut novelists on my twitter network are having breakthroughs.

These people are not different from you and me. They are not better educated. They are not richer. They are not people with industry connections. They are people who sat down and wrote. A lot. And re-wrote. They have families and day jobs and they are busy too. These people are getting agents and they are getting book deals. Three cheers for these people:

Maria Duffy, who signed with Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown last autumn and has just signed a two book deal with Hachette Ireland. Her debut novel, Any Dream Will Do, will be published November 2011

D.J. Kirkby, who writes fiction and non-fiction and after self publishing her first novel, Without Alice, has just signed up with Judith Murray at Greene & Heaton

Liz Fenwick recently signed with Carol Blake at  Blake Friedman and signed with Orion for her debut – A Cornish House - and a second novel…

Claire LeGrand (Who is 24, by the way!) has just sold her debut novel to Simon & Schuster

Kate Brown who just signed with Jamie Coleman at Toby Eady Associates for her debut historical novel.

Mariam Kobras who just signed her contract with Buddhapuss Ink independent publishers for her debut contemporary romance The Distant Shore

Kerry Hudson whose debut novel TONY HOGAN BOUGHT ME AN ICE-CREAM FLOAT BEFORE HE STOLE MY MA comes out from Chatto & Windus in summer 2012

Claire McGowan whose debut novel sold in February to Headline and will be published in 2012. See her blog post about living the dream here.

Jonathan Pinnock whose debut Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens is out this September from Proxima Books

Rebecca Emin whose children’s novel New Beginnings will be published next year by Grimoire books.

Hip, hip, HOORAY! And many congratulations to all these writers!

I’m NOT saying that it’s easy. The market is difficult at the moment and I know several brilliant writers who have got great agents and are still waiting for a publisher to buy their book. That must be so frustrating after that magic moment of finding an agent raises your hopes…But what they aren’t doing is sitting around moaning about it. They are all, without exception, writing the next novel.

And as well as those people there are still many of my twitter friends submitting to agents, getting rejections, revising and submitting again. And of course there are those still climbing the first draft mountain. But I’m convinced that many of them will succeed because it’s clear they are determined to do so.

So, what’s stopping you?  Write. Write today. And come and find us on Twitter – make friends, watch others succeed and be encouraged (keep an eye on the #writegoodnews hashtag). Or occasionally drown your sorrows together.

Claire King on Twitter

 

Have Book, Will Travel

Posted on: March 29th, 2011 by Claire - 12 Comments

I was thrilled recently to hear that my first foreign rights deal for The Night Rainbow has been made, for Dutch rights, by auction! The rights have gone to Jacqueline Smit at AW Bruna/Orlando whose wonderful enthusiasm for my novel matches that of my agent and my UK editor. How exciting is that? (Really exciting!)

I hadn’t really been thinking much about foreign rights up until now, and now I do I’m aware how little I know about this aspect of the publishing world. Twitter is also ablaze with people talking about various book fairs…so I decided it’s time to find out more.

I’ve asked Clare Wallace, fellow alumna of the 2010 Bristol Short Story Prize, and now a rights manager at Darley Anderson literary agency, to answer some of my questions:

Congratulations on landing a job at Darley Anderson! Can you tell us what your job title is and what it involves?

Thank you! And massive congratulations on getting an agent, getting a UK deal and selling translation rights! Wow! It’s incredible news! My job title is Rights Manager which means I negotiate deals for translation rights all over the world for all of the Agency’s authors.

For anyone reading who is looking to work in publishing, what skills and characteristics would you say are important to be a rights manager?

I’m still new to my role and I’m learning all the time but I would say you need to be very organised, methodical and good at multitasking – which also means you need to be able to handle pressure. You need to like building lasting relationships with people but also enjoy negotiations and making deals. You need to be driven and incredibly passionate about your authors and their work – you want to build every author in every territory and create internationally bestselling books!

Are there big differences between selling a book to home publishers and selling foreign rights?

Not really. The process is the same; you select the editors that you think would want to publish a particular author and then you submit the author’s manuscript for consideration.

My editor told me recently that my manuscript had been read by “lots of literary scouts…who were now writing favourable reports to their clients.” I have to admit I didn’t know these people existed! Do you have contact with literary scouts? Do they contact you, or vice versa, and at what stage of the game?

I am in constant contact with literary scouts. Having literary scouts writing favourable reports for your novel is the best position to be in because literary scouts act as a filter and a matchmaker for the publishers that they work for – it really has an impact if a literary scout recommends your work to their clients. At the Darley Anderson Agency scouts get in contact with us if they hear about a manuscript they think their clients might be interested in, and when we send a manuscript out on submission all over the world it goes to scouts too.

You’re very busy at the moment getting ready for the London Book Fair and for Bologna. What kind of preparations do you need to make? What will you be doing during the actual fairs?

At a book fair the Darley Anderson rights team have back-to-back appointments with publishers. The rights team pitch their rights list to publishers and talk about their debut authors, pitch existing authors’ backlists and describe their big titles. We prepare for every appointment by looking at what has previously been bought and by having an idea of which titles might fit each publisher’s list. It’s a lovely opportunity to actually meet all the people you work with face to face because most of the deal making and negotiating I do is via email. And it’s the perfect place to make new contacts, learn more about the different markets and talk to editors about what they are currently looking for.

Does your busy lifestyle leave you any time to write? What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment, because I’m fairly new to the role and because Bologna is closely followed by London Book Fair there isn’t much time to do anything except work and read. But I still love writing and don’t ever want to give that up. There’s an idea for something lurking around and I hope I’ll have a bit more time to work on it over the summer . . .

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Before I go, I just wanted to say that at the Darley Anderson Agency nearly all of our authors are found in the submission pile – we are always on the lookout for new talent and the next bestseller – so if anyone is thinking about submitting have a look at our website and see if you think we would be a good fit – and then just follow the submission guidelines.

Thank you very much for having me along! And please keep me posted about The Night Rainbow because I can’t wait to read it.

Many thanks for coming to my blog, Clare and for taking the time to answer these questions when you’re obviously so busy!

You can follow Clare on Twitter @clarewallais

A Mountain Lover’s Life

Posted on: November 9th, 2010 by Claire - 13 Comments

Q: Do you know what can you see when you get to the top of a mountain?

A: Other mountains.

Today I received the email I’ve been waiting for – a wonderful literary agent would like to represent me. Not only that, she would love to represent me. She stayed up until the early hours reading my unsolicited submission, she fell in love with my MC, she sees a clear placing for the novel…it’s really all very very good.

So I thought those of you who know how much I’ve wanted this, and those still on the same journey would want to know how it felt to me?

0) Disappointment – I saw the email appear in my inbox just 3 days after I sent the full manuscript and I thought ‘Oh no, it’s not a phone call it’s an email, that will be a no.’ And then I read it and…

1) Excitement and Joy – How wonderful it is to hear a well respected, successful literary agent say things like this: “simply one of the best contemporary debuts I have read in a long, long time…I stayed reading until beyond midnight yesterday because….. well, because it is THAT good. I can think of a number of editors of literary lists who will be blown away by it… Please say you will sign up and then I can get working on your behalf!”

2) Nervousness at the first call with my new agent – Unnecessary. Annette is lovely.

3) Questions for the agent – Where do you see it fitting in the market? What sort of publishers? How many edits?

and then, once I said, “Yes please!”…

4) So where are these new mountains? –  Edits, submissions to publishers, edits from publishers, publication, writing the next novel…

A friend once told me that each time he has achieved something that he has been striving for (like climbing a mountain) he enjoys the view momentarily and then he sees it for what it is – the other mountains waiting to be climbed. I think I’m like that too. Once I reach the top of a mountain (writing, redrafting, redrafting, submitting) I catch my breath and I’m already looking at the next few peaks.

It is never the right time.

Posted on: August 7th, 2010 by Claire - 12 Comments

I have come to a conclusion over the course of this year which doubtless has been reached by many others who have gone before me. I will say it again anyway because sometimes, Oh my Best Beloved, a thing has to be repeated to Sink In.

It is never the right time.

It’s never the right time to write, never the right time to edit, never the right time to concentrate, never the right time to start the long process of submitting your work.

There is a conspiracy amongst inanimate objects and just about everyone else in the world to provide valid excuses to you, The Writer, for why you are have not yet completed and submitted your manuscript.

Here are some of my favourites: school holidays, work obligations, making time to be a good wife, keeping the house clean to a bare and sanitary minimum, friends and family, tax returns…

If you let them they will tell you that now is just not the right time. Tonight will be easier, or first thing in the morning. When the kids have started school. In autumn, when the nights are longer and they will sleep better. After Christmas, once all of the shopping and partying is over with. New Year – a perfect resolution. OK, before you turn 40, there’s a good goal. Maybe when the market picks up?

I could wait another six months, another six years, tweaking and prevaricating.

No! That’s not for me! Somehow I’ll escape all that waiting and staying. I’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing…

The right time is now. My synopsis may be missing an apostrophe, my query letter may not be italicised where it should be, but a first time novelist has to write. And she has to do her best – accepting it may not be perfect – and then put herself out there. And there will be someone who will see her submission for what it is.

This is what I hope.

Bon voyage, novel, you’ll move mountains.

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