Getting an agent

It was so lovely seeing this announcement go live this July,but in actual fact I have been working with my agent at Darley Anderson since she first emailed me on October 3rd, 2015 (I didn’t even have to look that date up, it’s imprinted in my mind!)

I had known I wanted to get an agent probably since that summer – I felt that the book was ready to send out (in reality and looking back, it quite possibly wasn’t) and so I had started drawing up a list of literary agents to contact. I had a colour-coded spreadsheet to avoid embarrassingly contacting the same agent twice, and I had a well-thumbed copy of The Writers and Artists Handbook, and, well, the internet. Most agents now have wishlists online where you can see exactly the sort of thing they are looking for, of if not, they have lists of their existing authors which gives you a pretty good idea too. Anyway, I had my spreadsheet and I’d already had a meeting with one agent when I got the email from Camilla. It pinged into my inbox less than 24 hours after I’d queried her, and her tone was very enthusiastic.

The closing paragraphs of the email said:

‘What I’d absolutely love to do is read the full manuscript and am so excited to see where you take the reader. Due to the time it takes to read full manuscripts we do ask for this to be with us exclusively and I hope this is ok? I’d also love my editor and also our TV Agent to read the ms too so this might take a bit longer than usual but I will push them to get back to me within the month, I’d say quicker but with Frankfurt next week it’s all absolutely crazy here at the moment.

I really look forward to hearing from you and thank you so much again for allowing us to read your work. I’m so excited!’

As you can imagine, it was very exciting. Over the next few months, we met up with another agency editor, Celine, for coffee and cake in Fulham, and I did another draft of the book after receiving Camilla and Celine’s editorial notes. Then, in April 2016, Camilla emailed me to say she’d like to offer official representation. Fittingly, I was sat in Foyles cafe with a friend, and had to excuse myself to go jump around in the bathroom!

More edits followed. Camilla is a very hands-on editorial agent which is something I personally hugely appreciated – some agents are less so, it depends how they work. During the process of submission (which is a story for another post!) Camilla was on hand to calm me down, cheer me on and make sure my book fell into the right editorial hands. When it came to doing the deal, she was hard as nails and totally on my side. It helps so much to have an agent working alongside you, and while there are also benefits to self-publishing, for me agent representation felt like the way to go.

3 thoughts on “Getting an agent

  1. From her mention of ‘with Frankfurt next week’ – had to look up why a German city impacts things 😉 – and the details in your cover letter, I’m assuming Camilla knew you worked in the publishing industry. Does that provide any advantage when it comes to standing out from a crowded field? Are there any other facets of an author which are helpful to highlight when trying to secure an agent? I’ve heard two separate poles of advice:
    1) It’s a business letter, so write the query/cover letter in a formal business tone, or
    2) try to bring out your personality on the page, come across like a marketable human being.
    So what’s the best advice to follow?


    1. Hello! I would say it’s best to be yourself but keep it professional and relatively formal, so you could mention any writing awards or relevant writing experience you have, but if you don’t have any that’s absolutely fine too! It is ultimately a business letter, so I’d only mention anything that feels particularly relevant to your work or to your career as a writer. If you have a very big existing social media platform that’s worth mentioning, but only if it’s really significant. Agents will just be looking for a cover letter that makes sense, pitches the book effectively, and shows you are serious about signing with an agent and writing books for a living. I hope that helps!


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